Eight ways kindergarten holds the key to 21st-century instruction

6. Express

Mixing different forms of media and communication is an essential component of kindergarten class. Children look at photos, listen to music, watch video, tell stories, and of course, read books. We understand that people communicate in a variety of manners, and we bring them into play in our classrooms.

In upper grades, our entire world is expressed through text. For whatever reason, it seems that the only valid form of expressing knowledge is through text. Outside of class, students constantly interact and create video, music, and more. In class, we have students read from textbooks and almost exclusively require them to respond in writing.

7. Move

Children need to move. We all need to move. It’s healthy for both body and mind. We understand that in kindergarten. The furniture is arranged to facilitate movement, and we often have children move around to different parts of the room depending on the activity. Outdoors, it’s essential to provide time and equipment for play.

The mantra of upper school is to sit still and face the front. Classes are designed for quiet, motionless, obedient activities. That can be excruciatingly difficult for many students.

8. Relate

Finally, in kindergarten we strive to make learning as meaningful as possible. Learning has meaning as defined by its relevance to the lives of students. If children can’t relate to it, then it won’t hold their interest.

On the other hand, the number of bleary-eyed, daydreaming students in upper grades is testament to the fact that they don’t relate to much of what passes for learning in class. It’s usually a predefined package of content defined by an “authority” sitting far from the lives of our students—physically and emotionally. Just as importantly, this predefined content package is becoming increasingly inadequate in preparing our students for their lives after school.

If you have a few moments, I’d strongly encourage you to take a stroll down to the lower grades in your school. In fact, the lower the better. Spend a few minutes observing the dynamics in class. Note the energy, laughter, and enthusiasm … the genuine thirst for learning. Then ask yourself: Why can’t it be that way throughout school?

Sam Gliksman is the author of iPad in Education For Dummies®. He has been leading technology applications in business and education for over 25 years. As an independent educational technology consultant, he advises educators on how to integrate technology into learning initiatives. Sam leads the iPads in Education community, http://ipadeducators.ning.com/. Sam can be reached by email at samgliksman@gmail.com and via Twitter at @samgliksman.

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