Monday, October 12, 2020

Preschool and childcare


‘Preschool and child care have little impact on a child’s later school test scores’.

The above was tweeted by Greg Ashman. 

On 16.9.2020 I tweeted the following in response to the above.

Luqman Michel @luqmanmichel  Replying to @greg_ashman and @ConversationEDU

Why should/ would literacy and numeracy taught in preschool affect the Naplan results?

There was no reply to my tweet.

Let us examine this further.

If a child goes to preschool and is taught the letter names and letter sounds and perhaps even taught to read some simple sentences what happens to him when he goes to grade 1 as compared to a child who does not attend preschool?

Most schools I know of, here in Malaysia and from hearsay of schools elsewhere, start by teaching letter names and letter sounds. The kids who went to preschool will  get bored and frustrated when they go to school and will begin to dislike school. This is from my personal experience with 2 of my sons who said they did not want to go to school. When I asked why, they said that they were bored; that there was nothing new taught in school that they had not been taught in kindergarten (preschool).

While the kids who went to preschools are bored, the kids who did not attend preschool are now voraciously learning what those other kids have already learned. By the end of grade 1, in theory, both the kids who went to preschool and those who did not will be at grade level.

As such there will be no impact on a child’s later school scores.

The study (why we need such a study is beyond me but) says:

We found no statistically significant difference between the literacy and numeracy scores of school children who had attended preschool or childcare and children who didn’t. Nor did the duration of preschool or childcare attendance have an impact on later literacy and numeracy scores.

It is my opinion that kids going to preschool should be allowed to play and interact with other kids so they can develop socially and emotionally. If preschools are to teach kids letter names, then letter names should not be taught in grade one as this will cause boredom in kids who already know their letter names.

Let’s look at a different perspective.

Let us see what Sue Lloyd, a retired infant teacher and co-author of Jolly Phonics who has, since retirement, given Jolly Phonics training in 29 countries, said in her website.

On average, about a quarter of children find learning to read difficult. There is a tendency to think that these children are not very bright but this could not be further from the truth. I have known many highly intelligent children who have had problems with learning to read and vice versa.

This lady is the co-author of Jolly phonics and teaches the pronunciation of phonemes the way they ought to be taught. I believe any child taught by this lady will not shut down /disengage from learning to read. Of course, I disagree with her stance that SSP is the only way to go but nevertheless her way is just as good as any other method of teaching the pronunciation of phonemes correctly.  

The question we need to ask is why do a quarter of the number of children find learning to read difficult even when taught using SSP?

This is where we should consider what Thorndike had said in 1913. He said that initial input is very important. If the initial input is faulty (just like the first scaffolding on the ground) then definitely further input (just like further scaffolding) will not work.

Let us now get back to our topic.

Assuming kids who went to preschool were taught the pronunciation of phonemes of consonants wrongly, they would have shut down when taught to read even at the preschool level. When these kids come to grade one together with kids who had not gone to preschool and our teacher Sue Lloyd starts teaching correctly, I believe the kids whose minds have not been corrupted (not ‘planted’ with the wrong scaffolding) will be able to do better than those who went to preschool.

This may explain why, despite all the SSP taught in the UK, 25% of kids find learning to read difficult.

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