Studying the students is as challenging as it is pivotal to the role of a good teacher. Transforming text into the minds of the students is not enough, what is required is to read their minds and create such an environment where it can grow mature and sound. For me early childhood teaching is providing opportunity to the young minds to understand themselves and their environments and then learn to accept or counter the surrounding phenomena. In order to reach that objective, a keen observation and a deep study of the young individuals and their behaviors is essential.
Creating a formal report of an individual child’s achievements and behaviors can therefore be very effective. The ability to study the students makes teaching a life long learning experience. For instance, observing child A. in academic and behavioral context was more of a learning experience for me than teaching. Child A. was a five years old Hispanic girl. Her dressing and tidy appearance affirmed her family’s concerns for her. Apparently the girl showed remarkable symbols of mental and physical health. She was active, strong and intelligent. To me she was just like any other five year old with no distinguished physical features.
Her family background was not much inquired as we were forbidden to however I managed to gather that she is the third in her family following a seven year old sister and a ten year old brother. I chose her as a case study because it seemed a challenging task. The teacher had reported that she is a very “disruptive child” and would often misbehave in the class yelling and hitting the class mates. I took her violent instincts as a tool to realize her potential frustrations. The disharmony between her outer and inner self was actually a subject of concern for me.
I could easily apprehend that deep down her tender soul remained some unfulfilled desires that recorded their impressions in her disruptive exterior. I also made sure that the class room environment and curriculum schedule were completely in accordance with the five year old intellectual and cognitive requirements. The class room aesthetics provided a cheerful colorful environment, which any child could enjoy. The soft boards upheld enough language and print symbols to attract a young learner. Strength of the class also was moderate. There were twenty five children in that class supervised by two young energetic teachers.
Furniture also was comfortable and totally in accordance with the requirements of five years old. Therefore, the general environment of the class could not be the stimulus for her mischief. The curriculum also was designed to develop a child’s language and learning skills without causing extra burden on the fragile nerves of a child. Latest techniques including phonetic and phonological awareness, expanding vocabulary and concept awareness, and developing writing, reading and comprehension skills were all implied as part of a curriculum. The class also encouraged intercommunications between peers and teachers.
Activities like modeling clay, painting and singing were the part of a day’s schedule. The overall schedule was lenient and could not possibly cause any strains or agitations. While observing the general atmosphere, I realized that there must have been something else causing the troublesome behavior of the girl, otherwise, the outer school environment and her family background (symbolized by her well taken care of appearance) apparently was not responsible for her conduct. On the other hand, Child A. behaved perfectly normal otherwise. There could not be a single psychological problem that could be associated with her.
Spending time with child A. gave me the opportunity to observe her overall academic achievement and social conduct. I observed that child A. is a fast learner and picks up new concepts and words quite quickly and easily. Compared with the other classmates, she is sharper and active. She is functioning above her required intellectual level. She is more independent and quick in finishing her work than the other class mates. Academically she is a promising student and a subject of less worry for her teachers than other pupils.
The days I was with her I made a few observations which I state here categorically. Child A. shows remarkable phonological and phonetic sound awareness skills. She can listen to the words and identify the number of syllables very well. She also can divide the words according to its syllables and has displayed the ability to pronounce rhyming words with similar phonetic endings. For instance, when I asked her to pronounce words with similar phonetic ending sounds with “rat”, she made “bat”, “cat”, “sat” and “fat”. She can also decode a new word by the letter- sound knowledge technique.
I introduced three syllable words like, “plant”, “water”, “hand” and “bottle” and she decoded them with less difficulty. After recognizing the letters individually and later pronouncing a word by joining the individual phonetic sounds collectively, she displayed her enhancing phonetic awareness skills. Child A. can recognize and write words with the help of their phonetic sounds awareness. She wrote various words like “eyes”, “plant”, “pour” and “grow”, quite independently. She recognized the words, spelled them and wrote them on her own.
For instance, in one work sheet sample, she was given the task to recognize word “what” and rewrite it. She successfully recognized the word as many times as it appeared in the work sheet and rewrote it on the same with out the teacher’s help. She is able to write her own name as well. She is able to realize that other names can also be written down on page with the help of phonetic awareness technique. I introduced my name to her which she wrote down in front of me without errors. As a young writer she shows improving tendencies. She writes neatly and proportionately.
She is quite easy going with two and three syllable words. She often completes her writing work without teacher’s help. Child A. demonstrates emergent reading skills. She listened attentively and followed various verbal instructions when working in a group. She comprehended logical connections and sequences in poems and stories. For instance, I read the poem, “Dig a Little Hole”, to a small group of children that included her as well. They had to retell the four stages introduced in the poem after listening to it. Child A. ot only retold me the four stages accurately, she also jot down the related words in a logical sequence, like, “dig”, “plant”, “pour” and “grow”. She also displayed remarkable picture comprehension skills and affirmed the knowledge that her thoughts can be expressed through written words. For instance, while drawing a picture she told me “I am drawing a foot”. Then she wrote “foot”. Similarly, while making the same drawing she said, “the eyes are smiling at you” and she wrote “eyes”.
Child A. displays improving cognitive development skills. Her listening and learning skills are impressive. Her vocabulary and verbal expressions also show improvement. Her response to rhymes and music is creative. She often copies the teacher while expressing herself. She recognizes and comprehends various symbols. She could associate particular meanings to symbols and pictures. She could name various pictures displayed on the flash cards and course books. She also displays effective language skills. She can express her self well and comprehends peers view point also. With my encouragement she conversed with me confidently and liked sharing her writing achievements with me.
Child A. seems an emotional child. She is very loving and responds emotionally to those who can pay extra attention to her. She loves to gain attention and thinks she deserves more appreciation. She also seems preoccupied by her physical appearance and class work. She becomes extremely happy when given praise for her dress or tidy work. In group working activities, she performed quite well. She often finished earlier than her group members. Despite of her teacher’s complaints about her misconduct with her peers, I noticed that she shows tendencies towards helping out her class mates in group activities.