Literacy | Literacy and development in the Young Child


Think about this scenario:

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Mr. Migel and Mrs. Colon are kindergarten teachers in the same inner-city school district. The children in their classrooms are mostly African American and Latino.  Both teachers are very dedicated to their profession. They have created classroom settings that demonstrate their philosophy and theory about what they believe early childhood education should be.

Mr. Migel has designed his room with content area centers, such as science, social studies, art, dramatic play, block play, and music. Each center reflects a theme the children are studying. For example, the children are studying spring, and there are plants in the science corner; recordings about spring in the music center; and books about plants, bugs, and new baby animals in the library corner. A zoo has been designed in the block center where baby gerbils have just been born, and a live hen is sitting on her eggs.  There is a place for children to buy tickets to the zoo, there are signs on the real and play animal cages, and children receive play receipts for money spent.

In the morning when they arrive at school, the children and Mr. Migel sing songs about spring, talk about spring, and discuss what they are going to do in school. The children spend a good portion of the day working with one another and with manipulative materials. Often there is a lot of noise, and sometimes children are not productively engaged. Mr. Migel has no formal lessons for reading and writing. When children want to look at books, they can. If the children decide to write a story, there are materials for them to use, and Mr. Migel is kind, supportive, warm, and caring. He believes that building a positive attitude about school and themselves is the most important part of the children’s kindergarten experience. He emphasizes social, emotional, and physical development. He also believes that the children will learn reading and writing as a result of their exposure to books and print in a spontaneous way, and that formal lessons in this area are inappropriate and unnecessary.

Mrs. Colon’s classroom is different from Mr. Migel’s. She, too, cares a great deal about the children. She is warm, kind, and supportive. She has organized the tables so that there is a definitive front of the room for her to carry out lessons. She feels that the children need to learn school behavior and be ready for first grade. According to Mrs. Colon, many of these children know almost nothing about reading and writing because their parents rarely work with them. She believes that they need to know the alphabet and need to be able to match sounds to their correct symbols as an aid to early literacy. She teaches a letter of the alphabet a week, and children use worksheets to reinforce what they have learned. The writing that takes place is mostly for the development of fine motor control to help the children learn to formulate letters, which they practice.  Mrs. Colon’s classroom is orderly, quiet, and organized, with specific objectives to be accomplished. Children do have the opportunity to play in her room, but she views this not as a time to learn, but as a time to relax after they have done their work. The reading specialist in the district is worried about both Mr. Migel and Mrs. Colon. She likes some of the things that both of them do but feels that each is lacking some important classroom strategies.

1.What theorists do Mr. Migel and Mrs. Colon embrace, based on the descriptions of their classrooms?

2.If you feel strongly that one teacher provides kindergarten instruction as it should be, support your premise with the appropriate theory.

3.Could each classroom be improved? If so, how?