What Should You Look For In A Quality Kindergarten Program?
Dr. Milt Uecker serves as our Lower School Instructional Coach. He provides ongoing staff development and assistance to WCCS teachers and administration in fulfilling a classroom in which students learn to think, problem solve, develop a love for learning and prepare to discover God's purpose for their lives in a modern world. Dr. Uecker has an Ed.D in Elementary Education and Administration from the University of Virginia. Previously, he has served as the Director of the Early Childhood Program at Regent University and Professor of Early Childhood at Columbia International University. He also served as the Dean of the College of Education and the Dean of the Graduate School at CIU. Bringing a high level of expertise to the conversation, for this week's blog, we thought we would have him briefly share his thoughts about what parents should be looking for in a quality Kindergarten program as they investigate options for their children.
A former colleague of mine at Regent University used to say, “We can “program” a child to excel in anything through repeated experience, but it is always at the cost of something else.” The classic example is creativity. No one argues with the fact that little children are creative and yet research has shown that by the second grade creativity seems to wane. Why? Because often in the conventional classroom, creativity is replaced with seeking after one “right” answer, and inventiveness is replaced with “Teacher, what do you want?” Academic and professional success is and will increasingly be dependent on the ability to think, communicate, solve problems, and persevere. In the near future, our children will be solving problems and working in careers that currently don’t even exist. Therefore, we must engage them in an early education that regularly provides these types of experiences.
The ability to create, think and problem solve are viewed as essential 21st century skills, and yet, these skills are often devalued within classrooms where rote recall, one right answer, and drill and practice take center stage. The brain is shaped through experiences, and the brain that “goes to school” is hardwired and in place by the age of five. If creativity is to blossom, then opportunities to be creative must abound. If communication skills are to be developed, then classrooms must provide new experiences that require thinking and the expression of thought through oral communication. In other words, curiosity, engagement, and thinking must be encouraged and practiced. As image-bearers of Christ, all children have potential in these areas, but without encouragement and use during the critical preschool years, children are likely to fall short of their full potential.
At Westminster Catawba Christian School, our developmental approach to learning centers on the education of the whole child—mental, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Every aspect of the child is viewed as equally important. From the perspective of a biblical worldview, the ability to create, communicate, and solve problems is part of the child’s very nature. These cognitive attributes reflect what it means to be made in the image of God. Additionally, a developmental education values the dimensions of cognitive development that extend beyond merely knowing.
At WCCS, our Early Childhood program is both developmentally appropriate and provides experiences that lay the foundation for future success. As we continue to work together, let us continue to enable children to “keep on increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)