Competency Statement II
To advance physical and intellectual competence.
Working to advance each child's physical and intellectual competence is a fundamental part of my day to day life as an early childhood educator. Children should have every opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and encourage their progress. Every child is different, and so they each need individualized learning experiences. I should always look for ways to modify activities or lessons for children that need it. My teaching strategies show my talent with effectively planning how to support young children's physical, cognitive, and creative development while supporting language development among all children.
One of my goals as a teacher is to enhance a child's physical wellbeing. With my age group, 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds, we should be working on improving a plethora of movement-related skills. They should be building their coordination skills and working on understanding how to move their body with purpose. Children are exercising their movement skills regularly. As a teacher, I need to take the time to observe and assess their physical development. When I observe and evaluate their physical development, it helps me plan a course of action to help them reach a new milestone and to see any difficulties a child may have with specific skills. A great way of observing is by planning out a structured physical activity where you can watch for particular skills and overall development as I did in RCII-5. The activity I laid out in RCII-5 is simple, with added complexities to offer more challenges as needed to keep the game engaging. By asking children to hop, stomp, crawl, spin, run and jump during the activity, I can watch how each child performs. I want to know if the children in my care can or can't perform specific actions, so I know how to challenge their physical wellbeing. By facilitating an activity with prompts to follow, we get to practice following instructions while exercising and practicing healthy habits. It is a good idea to tell children why they are doing an activity and what benefit it has for them and their bodies, so they understand their goals. For physical development activities, I always tell children we are working on keeping our bones, muscles, heart, brain, and overall body healthy by exercising.
Supporting young children's cognitive development is a crucial task I have as a teacher. Cognitive development is how a child thinks, problem-solves, and learns. Cultivating those skills in preschool-aged children is something I work on constantly throughout my day as a teacher. We play memory matching games to build strong working memory and thinking skills. I observe them as they play make-believe and use their imaginations to roleplay. We practice sequencing skills by recalling what happened first, second, and last after reading books and after small group activities. We even work on sequencing skills when we talk about our schedule and routine for the day! A big thing I work on in my classroom is understanding cause and effect. When children can grasp the idea that every action (or inaction) has an effect, they can understand and navigate their world with more curiosity. The more curious a child is allowed to be, the more they will learn. Asking children open-ended questions such as, "What do you think will happen?" or "Why do you think that happened?" allows children to put their observations and experiences into words. As I wrote in RCII-1, asking questions to encourage independent discovery is key. I feel that children learn best when they are allowed to have structured, safe curiosity while being asked questions that help encourage a child to investigate for more information.
One of my favorite parts about being a preschool teacher is helping children unlock their inner creativity. Every child is innately creative, in my opinion. I enjoy doing process art, group art collaborations, and structured art projects with a predetermined plan with the children in my class. It is fun to see their individuality shine through each and everything a child creates. I feel it is important to offer children many different materials. Our art center is always supplied with paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, chalk, and mini chalkboards, with additional rotating materials like paint, clay, glue sticks, and oil pastels. We also include musical instruments to our gross motor area in our classroom because music is another important aspect of arts for children to explore. An art project I facilitated recently in my class was creating the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. I created an example with the materials we would use, and then with a group of two children, we went through the craft step by step with my model guiding them on what they're trying to make their finished project look like. I feel tasks like this are important to help children understand sequencing, planning, and following instructions. Process art activities allow children the freedom to create using materials in an unstructured way. I would supply the materials and ask them what they can create. I can guide children at the beginning of the process art activity by asking questions like, "can you make a tree with these materials?" or "how can you paint a sunset with these colors?" As I described in RCII-3, I asked them to create their winter landscape using various winter themed colors and materials.
Supporting young children's communication skills is an all-day, everyday kind of task. Children are listening to every word we say, and so we should always strive to model excellent communication skills. When children have opportunities to gain sufficient skills in communication, they thrive in all other parts of their lives as well. As a teacher, I believe it is my job to practice "serve and return." Serve and return is essentially just always providing children with feedback and responses to what they say. Teaching children their voices are heard, listened to, and responded to helps them build confidence in their speaking abilities. It also gives them more opportunities to practice! I believe children that have developed strong communication skills are able to solve conflicts with their peers easier, evaluate situations and problem solves with more ease, and they can express their preferences with confidence. In RCII-8, I described a name game the children and I will play during our morning group times. Singing songs is a fantastic way to build communication skills because children are highly receptive to music. Singing songs and playing song/rhyme centered games is a fun way to expand children's skills in communication.