Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Application of Knowledge in PreK

 The tuition for N’s school is increasing next year.  I’m not surprised…when we began the process of selecting a school, I quickly learned that it was going to be expensive and continue to become even more so.  This is what we signed up for.  However, when my husband saw the tuition increases, he pretty much flipped out.  The expiration of the Bush tax cuts definitely impacted our wallets in January and it was a little scary to see how that will track through to our attempts at saving.  We’re now feeling like any annual merit raises we receive will go straight to the cost of N’s education and we’re worried about how we save up enough to do all the things we hope to over the next few years. 
The saving grace in our house this week was the regular newsletter from the Director of N’s school.  My husband saw the newsletter and immediately texted me to make sure I read it right away.  The theme was “Cultivating Understanding Through Learning by Doing.”  Here’s a snippet:
Recently, the parent of a Pre-K student shared with me a conversation she had with her daughter about artists.  The parent was telling her daughter that her favorite artist is Matisse.  Her young daughter responded enthusiastically, and proceeded to tell her mother about Matisse.  The parent was amazed her young daughter knew about Matisse and knew specific things about him.  It is a true mark of understanding when a child can take information and apply it in a new context.   I was not surprised when she shared this story with me.  Her daughter learned about Matisse in the context of learning about shapes and color.  She made connections with things she was very familiar with and she created her own designs, in the same way that Matisse had.  She is developing an understanding of what it means to be an artist and how artists convey ideas from their minds to others through their art.  As Einstein said, understanding something deeply allows us to convey information in a simple, direct way.  When we truly understand we can express ourselves clearly, and we can apply what we know to new situations.  Developing understanding is critical in learning.
I’m the parent she’s referring to and N is the daughter.  The story is 100% true and when I shared it with the Director, I was expressing my gratitude for how broad N’s learning experience has been this year.  I am wildly impressed by the things she tells me.  This morning, for example, the first thing she told me was that it’s Groundhog Day.  She then asked me if we could watch the groundhog because she wanted to know if he was going to see his shadow.  She sang a song about the holiday and knew all about dear Phil, including the words from the annual proclamations!  After breakfast, I checked the news and told her that Phil didn’t see his shadow.  She responded with “That means that Spring will be here soon.  Yay for warm weather and the sun!”  I let her watch the video of the event online and understood it.  She’s three years old, people!  It’s amazing to me that she fully comprehends these concepts.  The school Director is right, it’s because they allow the students to learn by doing and apply their knowledge. 
Between seeing the mention of our daughter in the school newsletter and hearing her go on and on about Punxsutawney Phil, I think that both my dear husband and I are over the tuition hike concern.  J

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