+1-631-475-0231 barrister@yannalaw.com

Education

Home » Opinion » Public information and Education » Education » Pre-school Education and early learning

A Proposal for Pre-School Education— the beginning

for children from those families in the Town of Brookhaven unable to utilize fully the existing educational, economic, cultural and social oppor­tunities of the Community.

Victor John Yannacone, jr., Vice Chair, Long Range Study Committee, Town of Brookhaven;
Lena L. Gitter, Educational Consultant;
Hon. Charles R. Dominy, Supervisor, The Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York

© 1964 Victor John Yannacone, jr.

The Town of Brookhaven has taken action to provide the children of those families unable to utilize fully the existing educational, economic, cul­tural and social opportunities available in the Township with the means to succeed in the existing public and parochial school systems and participate meaningfully in the Community experience, by establishing a pre-school education program for these children aged three to five years of age, ad­ministered by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for the Second Supervisory District and using facilities and services of the Department of Social Welfare and the Suffolk County Family Court.

The basic goal of the project will be the full development of the human potential of each child. The project also seeks an increase of parental awareness and understanding of the values of education and the parents’ responsibility for their children’s education.

The Town of Brookhaven seeks to mobilize all community resources, services and facilities to the end of accomplishing the goals and attaining the objectives of this Project.

There has been a growing concern among educators and the general pub­lic alike over the academic retardation shown in children from culturally and economically disadvantaged homes. These children frequently show inability to adjust to the demands made on them in the kindergarten and first grade. Research indicates that this academic retardation is a continuing process starting at a few months below grade level in the kindergarten and reaching two years below grade level at the sixth grade. In many cases children have been unable to move into the first grade after a year of kindergarten experience.

Research has shown that these children have been particularly deficient in skills which are involved in the learning process. Notably lacking are language abilities, both in communication with others and comprehension of verbal material. Marked deficiencies have been noted in the ability to concentrate or focus attention and in auditory and visual discrimination.

Handicapped by these deficiencies in their early years these children have little opportunity for success in school. The child faces a succession of failures which increasingly limit their motivation until apparently listless and dull they serves their time until the Law allows him to drop out of school. To these children, it is not surprising that school becomes and unpleasant and distasteful experience.

The Brookhaven Town Project seeks to remedy this situation through development of a special program for pre-school education of these children.

The Brookhaven Township Pre-school Education Program— A Summary Statement

  • The environment in the Brookhaven Project will be reality bound and designed to develop a sense of security especially helpful to children from disorganized homes. Order will be stressed to reinforce the child’s feeling of security in the schoolroom.
  • The child’s attitudes toward work as the basis of all accomplishment will be developed, as the child is taught to respect the results of their own efforts rather than to depend on the praises of others.
  • Self-help will be recognized as one of the major needs of the children. Techniques and methods of learning self-care without emotional overtones have been developed and will be utilized so that the child can develop independence and control of their environment. Special exercises in the skills of daily life will be of particular value to those children who do not receive such training at home.
  • The training materials and methods used in the program will stress development of all the senses. Sensorial materials will be utilized to develop in each child the ability to see, compare, differentiate and explore effec­tively their environment.
  • Self correcting exercises will give each child greater freedom in the expression of individual differences. It will be possible for each child to identify their own mistakes and become secure and confident in dealing with their own problems. Self-correcting exercises will serve as ego-strengthening experiences for the children.
  • Each child will retain psychological as well as physical freedom to move and work according to their own indiv­idual needs. Each child will work on an independent basis, so that those children with special needs can be taken care of without having the matter brought to the attention of the entire class.

The Right to Be Different

The Brookhaven Project will respect the right of ethnic groups to be different. The program will utilize not only pictorial materials, but also folk music to create a bridge between the child’s native culture and their present environment, to give him a feeling of belonging and to establish a better rapport between the home and the school.

The Project will draw on the vast resources of the Library of Congress, its wide selection of recordings of the folk music of various cultures, including American Indian, Negro, and Puerto Rican. These materials will be used also to broaden the background of the teacher and encourage appreciation of the traditions of other cultures by. the community at large.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

It has been said, “delinquents are made, not born.” No child is born either honest or delinquent. These are attitudes the child learns. He must be taught the rules of honesty with respect to property. He does not inherit this knowledge. The young child will formulate their own ideas of honesty from their environment, and the experiences they are exposed to at home, in school and in the community.

A child is always in the process of becoming . . . Becoming someone . . . Becoming something . . . Becoming honest. How will the Brookhaven Project’s program advance the process of becoming honest.

Becoming honest, and handling property are both learning processes.

The young child must learn to differentiate between what belongs to him and what belongs to other members of their family before they can be expected to recognize and respect ownership of property outside the home. Yet to under­stand “ownership,” the child must himself own something. Only when the child understands that some object is their very own, can they then learn the meaning of ‘mine’ as contrasted to the meaning of ‘yours,’ ‘their,’ ‘hers,’ or ‘theirs.’ The young child in the Brookhaven Project who rarely has either privacy or property in their home, must first be exposed to the concept of “ownership” in the prepared environment.

Respect for the property of others can best be learned by example.

Since these children will not receive this example in the home, the prepared environment of the school develops the sense of property in each child. There is a place, their place, with their name on it; a place to hang their coat; a place to store their things; their hat, their chair, on which to sit; a desk, their desk, on which to work; a drawer or cubicle in which to keep their own work. All this their very own. He will respect their ownership, and develop respect for the ownership of others. He will acquire the same attitudes toward the property of adults as they has had adults show toward their own property in the prepared environment.

Studies made on understanding the motivation for the taking of property from another without right emphasize that such action is “other-directed behavior.”

… they may compensate for their inferiority in school by winning the approval of their playmates by their boldness and ingenuity in breaking the laws of God and of man, including those of the teacher…” Rivlin, Harry N., Educating for Adjustment, D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc., N.Y.

Understanding that “stealing” is an indirect means to an end, we must prepare to meet the need or “end” before the overt act is manifested.

Dr. Maria Montessori in her studies of these deviations in the young child evolved a method of approach to the problem before the deviations became manifest. Satisfaction from success experiences as opposed to competition before the young child is ready for competition is emphasized. The pressure is off. The pre­pared environment meets their needs. It is self correcting and leads to success experiences. It is not competitive; the rewards are intrinsic. The child need not look for substitutes for status. Power is their mastery of the work apparatus. Affection is their in the form of the complete attention that the Teacher is able to give him because of the individual nature of the teaching method. In Dr. Montessori’s prepared environment, the apparatus is not an alluring toy, but a challenging work device. The child is not tempted to remove the item from the environment without permission. By meeting physical and emotional needs through the prepared environment, the need for other directed behavior is minimized.

Although financial need is an important factor in the development of anti-social attitudes and acts of delinquency in later childhood which the Brookhaven Project hopes to reduce through a program of early childhood education, merely providing day care to the children, of families with financial and overcrowding problems will not remedy the situation.

Children from homes where social disorganization can be shown, from arrest records or other similar objective data, should be preferred for training in the Project. Assuming that the existing research showing the great influence of early childhood experience upon the development of individuals is correct, then the development of strong constructive attitudes toward family, work and society within the Project program should exert a lifetime effect that is good, for the child and for the community.

The first evidence of the value of this program should be the better adjustment of these children to the public school system, with less delin­quency during their school years, as compared with other children from the same area who do not benefit from this program.

Role of Experience in the Formation of Concepts

The world’s great educators have from the time of ancient Greece—and probably before that time—recognized the value of coordinating sensory and mental training. Plato and Aristotle, both of whom dominated the intellectual world until the Middle Ages, stressed the importance of training the hand as a preliminary to the formation of right habits of mind. Plato furthermore, recognized also the paramount im­portance of aesthetic laws in their application to ed­ucation.

Their teaching was furthered by such great thinkers as Rabelais, Montaigne and Comenius—particularly the last. In the 17th Century, the English philosopher John Locke advocated the training of the senses and by doing so inspired Rousseau. Contributions to the cause were made by Salzmann, Herbart and Froebelo All these great educators recognized and stressed the value of development of sense perceptions as against the time-honored formal study of grammar. They revolted against the theory that education is a purely intellectual discipline. They maintained that the essential thing in education is the development of all human powers— physical, mental and spiritual, and that hand and eye training is as impor­tant as the study of Latin and Greek. [Tomlinson, R. R., Children as Artists, (1947) New York]

Sensory training. By experience with material, impressions are amassed, some often at first appearing unimportant. There is a further aim: knowledge of mat­erials, of the possibilities in plastic handling, in tectonics, application, in work with tools and machines—such as is never attained through book knowledge and traditional verbal instruction.

Basic sensory experiences—gained by these exer­cises—­undergo development and intellectual transformation, and later are brought into relation to other experiences. It is not possible to skip any stage in experience, though it may sometimes appear desirable. From the first inar­ticulate experience, the whole of life is one continual growth. Therefore it is indispensable in human development to pass through all stages of elementary experience in every field of sensory activity. [Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo, The New Vision and Abstract of an Artist, New York, George Wittenborn, Inc. (1947)]

Many schools of psychology maintain that the individual is born with a certain degree of intelligence which remains the same throughout life. The functioning of the intelligence, however, ‘depends to a great extent upon mental constructions that are built by experience and by conscious thought. It is this development that can be aided by education.

When we speak of sensorial education, many people object that children do not have to attend a school for this. While it is quite true that the sensorial impressions received in school are very poor compared with those, obtained from the outside world. Nevertheless, sensorial impressions are not the same thing as sensorial education. It is possible for an individual to receive any amount of sense impressions and be ‛none the wiser.’ We know that there are adults who can travel around the world and when they return be unable to recall anything of interest. Sense impressions alone are not enough; the mind needs some education in order to discern and appreciate. Otherwise, it is a case of “eyes that see not, and ears that hear not.”

What is needed are not more and more sense impressions which only increase fatigue, but education of the senses.

A common misconception concerning sensorial education is that the aim is to sharpen the senses physically by means of repeated exercises. When we “educate” the senses we are not trying to make the child see better, we are helping them to know what it is that they see. By providing strongly contrasted sensations followed by variously graded series of sensations, we are teaching the child to differentiate. For example, if we show a child first red, then blue, then several shades of blue, we are teaching the child what is red, what is blue and something about blueness. At the same time the child is learning to compare, differentiate and contrast; to distinguish different sense impressions and to put them in some kind of order. This is the beginning of a conscious awareness of the environment as opposed to the unconscious knowledge that they already has, and as the child isolates the sense impressions and the qualities perceived, they are gradually building up abstract conceptions: red­ness, blueness, darkness and light, finally color. This is the beginning of the development of the intellect.

After the child in the Brookhaven Project has gained some con­fidence though their mastery of simple tasks involving their daily personal life, they will be introduced to the sensorial materials.

The purpose of the self-correcting sensorial materials is to permit the individual child to proceed and develop at their own speed without com­peting with the rest of the class. The teachers put no limitations on how often the child wants or needs to use a particular piece of apparatus. After the child feels secure in the mastery of one piece of apparatus the Teacher will present new material and lead the child onto the next step in their sensory education. The child will be free to move about the classroom and may take the work to their desk or work on a mat laid out on the floor. The purpose of the floor mats and the small individual table mats are to place a topographical boundary around the child’s work, a boundary res­pected by the other children.

One of the ground rules of the programs is that no child is permitted to interfere with the work of another child thereby teaching the child respect for the work and achievement of others. Although the children will not have any specially assigned places and will be permitted to work throughout the classroom always respecting the basic rules of order. All supplies and educational materials are displayed in a certain order on shelves around the room. Although a child is free to take and use any material in the classroom not already in use, they are also responsible to return the item to the exact place it was taken from, developing in the child an awareness that freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand. The development of this basic discipline of order frees the teacher for individual help to those children who require it.

Learning requires concentration, and the only way a small child can concentrate is by fixing their attention on some task they are performing with their hands. From the very first, the hand is used to explore the world, and all through their development, the hand is the child’s teacher.

The children of this Project will be preparing themselves to enter the existing public school system, but at the same time they will be gaining values to live by. They will be learning that work is required to meet the basic needs of themselves and others; that work has different rewards and at the same time is both demanding and satisfying. In the operation of this program, work and school are not separate worlds. School is work.

No matter what the age, something happens to a group or to an individual child when they undertakes a real job. There is pride in accom­plishment.

“>

<>

Work of The Pre-school Child

Let us first consider some of the problems of the very small child; problems they must solve on the road toward becoming an adult.

At first all is confusion to the small child: time, space, casual relationships, distinguishing between the real and unreal. To a two year old, everything they have already experienced happened yesterday. Space is a mystery; if boats are fun in the bathtub, why not take one home from the marina.

Nevertheless, by the time the normally advantaged child is three years old, they have overcome these difficulties and are talking about time, space and sensations, and many other things by means of the language they have learned. They have explored their environment, picked-up, poked, prodded, climbed upon and jumped off, they have thrown, trod, splashed, squeezed and done countless other things.

As the child grows they are eager to perform adult tasks and develop adult skills. The child who lacks cultural opportunities is seriously handi­capped in their capacity to cope with the ordinary public or parochial school system through their lack of meaningful experiences with the world around them.

In the program planned for the Brookhaven Project, each child will have the experience of self-care and care of their surroundings, developing self-confidence and a sense of responsibility. In the pre-school environment rich in sensory stimuli, the child will grow familiar with their world and lay the foundation for later conceptual thinking, as well as form the positive, productive attitudes necessary to make him an asset to their community.

Repetition is a great part of a small child’s life. Children need the opportunity to repeat actions or to hear the same song or story over and over again as an outlet for their own energy and to perfect their skills. Even though the child of three may understand the concept of time, they are still unhampered by carefully worked out schedules for the years to come, or even the minutes to come Children live in and for the present moment and thinks nothing of repeating the same action twenty or thirty times.

When the child is permitted to do real work, meaningful constructive activities, they find a direction for their inner energy. When they derive joy and satisfaction from the work, they discover the pleasures of work and have no need for other incentives, tangible rewards or even praise. In fact, inducements or rewards tend to disrupt the child’s—the working child’s— concentration.

“>

<>

Positive Attitudes Toward Work

The Brookhaven Project seeks to provide an early positive influence on each child’s attitude toward work as the basis for accomplishment.

The experiences of each child in the Project will form the basis of their self-fulfillment in the future regardless of whether their intelligence lies in their hands or in their heads.

“>

<>

Geometrical Inserts

Metal frames, with geometrical inserts which can be lifted out of the frame with a small knob on the insert. The children can feel the form and outline or trace them with a pencil. At first the children merely fill in the outlines with pencil, but as they become more adept at handling the forms the combine them with each other gradually discovering more and more possibilities.

“…discovery is in its essence a matter of rearranging or transforming evidence in such a way that one is enabled to go beyond the evidence to new insights to the degree that one is able to approach learning as a task of discovering some­thing rather than learning about it, to that degree the child will be rewarded by discovery itself.” Bruner, Jerome S., On Knowing (1962), Harvard University Press, Cambridge

Around the Room: the “Geography” of the prepared environment.

Young children seem to work most comfortably on the floor and ample space must be provided to allow for traffic to flow around them. The tables and chairs must be easily lifted and moved by the child. Small mats or rugs, approximately two by three feet in size, that the children can roll and unroll easily by themselves, should be provided for the children to sit on and work, not only protecting the child from a cold floor but defining the work area, protecting the materials the child is using and providing the child with a structured extension of himself.

In the ideal classroom, their would be a coat closet in the anteroom, but if this is not practical, then a section of the room must be reserved for the storage of the child’s personal property—a hook for their jacket, a place for their overshoes, and a cubicle or drawer for their own ‘work’ and ‘possessions.’

Another section of the room must be devoted to the exercises of prac­tical life, providing a place for the care of the child and the environment. Each child will have their own personal comb, hand towel and soap. There will be shoe polishing equipment, as well as the mops, brooms, dust cloths and scrub brushes and buckets, all easily manipulated by the children in order that they may care for the general maintenance of their own classroom.

Low shelves should be built around the room enabling the child to reach comfortably for any apparatus they might need and just as easily return the item to its proper place. Color coding is provided to help the young child with the orderly return of materials—one of the basic ground rules of Dr. Montessori’s prepared environment. The scrub bucket might have a red trim to match the red mark on the spot where it is to be stored and returned after use.

Such color coding is in reality a preliminary matching exercise in pre­paration for the reading experience. Reading is simply the decoding of symbols. In the prepared environment the young child begins to think in terms of symbols, and comprehend the message of symbols—color marks the spot—every routine action a structured exercise. In the everyday chaotic environment of the child, the structured exercises of the program will furnish the basic experiential background for reading and other scholastic activities.

  • To help each child develop a positive self image and encourage in each child the foundation for independent thought and action.
  • To develop in each child an awareness and understanding of their environment.
  • To improve communication skills, per­ceptual awareness, and motor coordination increasing the level of each child’s readiness for school achievement and participation in community activities.
  • To develop in each child the ability to think quantitatively, understand the structure of the number system and the logic of the arith­metic operations.
  • To foster aesthetic values through experiences in art and music.
  • To promote good health in the children and encourage physical development.
  • GOAL I. To help each child develop a positive self-image and encourage in each child the foundation for independent thought and action.

    Erik Erkson has observed that in the development of ego identity, an integral part of the healthy personality, there are three successive stages of development for the child—basic trust; autonomy; and initiative.

    Basic trust begins in infancy with the child’s relationship to their “always there” mother, and extends ultimately to their relationships with others.

    The child’s first sense of autonomy appears when they takes their first unaided steps, and repeats itself often as they insists on “doing it by himself.”

    The development of self concepts through sensory-motor experiences may be the basis of the child’s awareness of himself as an emergent adult. The development of self concepts also serves as the basis for the child’s ability to relate in a group, for not until the child is able to master himself, and develop an understanding, even sub-consciously, of their responsibilities as well as their rights, can they begin to understand the needs of others.

    When the small child achieves an awareness of their own identity, they are then ready to investigate the world around him and wonder about their place in it.

    There are several techniques to assist the child to see himself as an individual:

    ∙ Pictorial displays showing a variety of ethnic groups of children, family groups, and community groups in a variety of activities, at work, at play, at home, at school, at worship, and so on.

    • Full length mirrors in halls and lavatories, easily accessible to the child as they enter the school in outdoor clothing, after they have taken off their coat, scarf, boots and other outerwear; and as they go about the various activities of their school day, seeing similarities and differences among members of their peer group, faculty, and visitors.
    • Full-view photographs of each individual child, taken in school, preferably with some form of Polaroid [the original “instant”] camera. The photographs may be used for basic identification of self; taped on the doors. of the “cubbies{ where each child keeps their outdoor clothing or personal articles. Photographs of each individual child engaged in school activities with other members. of the group could be posted at eye level about the classroom.
    • Individual wrapping paper images to which the child can later ‘map’ himself in a one-to-one relationship could be placed at child level along a corridor of the school. To make the images, use a roll of Kraft wrapping paper; prepare a piece about a foot longer than the child, have him lie down on the paper, then trace their body outline using a Magic Marker and, depending upon the child’s ability with scissors, either cut out the outline or have the child do this for them self. The children may color in the details of themselves as they sees themselves. These ‘self-portraits’ can be mounted.
    • Certain games and songs are appropriate in aiding the child to develop an understanding of their environment. Many different people from many, far-away lands have given our chil­dren of America story-songs for singing, games and rhymes; riddles for guessing. This is our Folklore—a rich soil in which our boys and girls can grow, discovering their heritage.

    Over the years of our country’s history, as newcomers made this their native land, and children of each generation played together, by word of mouth—from lip to ear, the children have gathered our folklore. Songs that mothers sang long ago in the twilight hills of Kentucky, games played in the schoolyard of a little town in Illinois, Rhymes and jingles chanted through the summer night on the sidewalks of New York, tales told by the hearthside in the great Northwest—our American Folklore.

    For the children of this project whose needs are special, every opportunity must be explored which will give them new experiences in hearing and using words, in perceiving ideas and in recalling and making associations.

    Cultural anthropologists say that play is a means of transmitting cultural values and patterns of behavior, especially with children. These rhymes and verses—our folklore—are a product of our culture and many were originally created by children. The main purpose of teaching the children these simple rhymes and riddles and having them use them in play has been to stimulate learning. Needless to say, the child’s enjoyment of the material is the first step in this direction.

    Daily living activities including washing, dusting, buttoning and the activities of practical life structured to enable the child to gain con­fidence in himself through successful completion of work meaningful to him. These daily living activities also provide enrichment of perception and vocabulary.

    “>

    <>

    GOAL III. To improve communications skills, perceptual awareness, and motor coordination increasing the level of each child’s readiness for school achievement and participation in community activities.

    The use of the Teacher as a language model is perhaps the most important path to this goal.

    Normally an activity is started when the child can respond to it, however, with the children from limited backgrounds in this program, because they have not had the opportunity to learn and understand the use of language to the extent of more advantaged children, the Project program must provide patterns which will make it possible for these children to respond.’Much time may have to be taken for the process of “input” before we can expect adequate responses from the children.

    Beginning with the language or verbal facility each child has, the Teacher must gradually extend this facility and enlarge their vocabulary. In a certain sense, this pre-school program could be called a time for language training, training which, of necessity, must be carefully programmed. The techniques and experiences provided the child must stress the visual and auditory senses, with physical involvement and activity of the whole child.

    Among the proposed activities to attain this goal are:

    • Conversations in order to improve several areas of communication: listening, talking and vocabulary enrichment for concept building. When these conversations are teacher directed, emphasis will be placed upon patterns of courtesy.
    • Reading well chosen story books to and with the children in order to establish respect for books and a love of reading. The known backgrounds and experiences of the children will be taken into account in the selection of books, following the principle that the Project programs will begin at the individual child’s level and proceed from that point toward the entrance level of the public school systems.
    • Simple nursery songs and folk songs to encourage the children to learn words and their meanings quickly.
    • Dramatization and role playing will be another avenue for vocabulary enrichment. Research done at the Institute for Developmental Studies has shown that the verbal performance of children from experientially deprived backgrounds is markedly improved in the discussion following the role-playing session. The books Caps For Sale, is an excellent story to use as an introduction to dramatization. The acting out of this delightful story may be done as a group. The use of telephones, puppets, masks, objects in the doll corner, and other props aid the children in expressing themselves verbally.
    • Poetry will be used to broaden the scope of the child’s language experience. Reciting to memorize couplets will be encouraged.
    • The field trips will be utilized to provide direct, personal experiences on which to develop concepts from which to build language.
    • Well chosen recordings will be used to develop listening skills. Songs that refer to familiar things will be used as basic introductions to musical form.
    • Pictures and small objects will be used to provide vocabulary enrichment.
    • Collections of common object pictures and miniatures of common objects, boxed in categories (clothing, foods, pets, &c) teach word meanings. Games using several of these boxes in classifying those objects provide additional learning experiences in language.
    • Interpreting pictures on the bulletin boards and the drawings of the children. will afford further opportunities for vocabulary enrichment. Questions by the Teacher can be used to unfold the sequence of the illustrated story.
    • Games that involve listening, carrying out directions, hiding and finding, rhyming, and other activities will be used to develop language abilities. Many of these “pre-reading” suggestions, as described in Russell’s Reading Aids and Listening Aids, will be incor­porated in the instructional program.

    Some of the techniques used to develop visual discernment develop the skills necessary for reading and increase the level of reading readiness.

    • Matching exercises are one of the most primitive forms of reading, the relating of symbols of identical properties to each other. The color tablets will be used as the simplest form of matching.
    • Classification of pictures beginning with the simpler lotto games, which are easily reconstructed to provide control of error, will be part of the reading preparedness program.
    • The sensory materials specially designed to progressively lead the child to an acuity in classification of the objects in their environment, will be used to teach many of the pre-reading skills.
    • The concept of rough and smooth is communicated (as difference) to the child using sandpaper and finely polished wood surfaces; the concept of large and small (as difference) by graduated blocks and cylinders. Further refinement of slight. differences will be developed through the grading of shades of a single color.

    Appealing to young children through sensory stimulation, these materials prepare them for more complicated learning efforts later on and at the same time play an important role in vocabulary building using these and other materials in the area of sensorial development, children improve hand-eye coordination, small muscle coordination and practice cortical opposition of the thumb and finger in preparation for writing. The Teacher, acting as a model presents the materials using care in keeping the principle of left-right directionality in mind.

    • The development of auditory memory and the ability to distinguish sounds by listening and organizing the sounds of the environment through the use of musical instruments and the identification of simple melodies and rhythms. Using the sound boxes and bells and bars developed by Dr. Maria Montessori to teach the concepts of loudness and softness; pitch and tone.
    • Activities designed to develop in the child control of their hands in preparation for writing. Drawing, scissor-cutting, hammering, manipulation of knobbed objects. The use of kinesthetic letters to train the arm and hand more specifically for writing, with lightness of touch stressed.

    Sandpaper Letters

    Sandpaper letters, two fingers wide, mounted on cardboard. By tracing them with their fingers and hearing the sound associated with the letter, the child learns to recognize the alphabet, not only through their eyes and ears, but through their fingers.

    The child develops a muscular memory of the form of the letters through touch, as a preparation for writing. If the child’s fingers move off the sandpaper, they knows at once by the different texture of the surface.

    “>

    <>

    Readiness

    The concept of readiness applies to the learning of elementary school mathematics as well as to reading. In Clark and Eads book, Guiding Arithmetic Learning, the authors state that in general it can be said that readiness of any child for learning in any given field of knowledge depends on:

    1. The background of experiences related to the field with which they approach the new work.
    2. Their physical development, including visual and auditory perception and motor development.
    3. Their mental development, including intelligence level, maturation, concepts and meanings.
    4. Their language development including speech.
    5. Their desire to learn and evidences of willingness to make an effort to learn.
    6. Their emotional and social adjustment.

    GOAL V. To foster aesthetic values through experiences in art and music, the Program at the Brookhaven Project will emphasize structured learning experiences in the areas of art and music.

    “>

    <>

    Music

    The active enjoyment of music derived from personal participation is bound to be a more stimulating experience that the mere passive pleasure of uniformed listening. Nevertheless, each year, thousands of children are denied natural musical fulfillment by discouragement in their early studies.

    Music can best be understood by a child through movement, clapping hands, marching, beating a drum, all in time to music can satisfy the child’s need for rhythmic activities.

    In musical activities, for many children, the concepts of form, struc­ture, poise and rhythm, the eternal verities of all art, are most easily dis­cerned and appreciated.

    Some of the musical experiences planned for the children of this project include:

    ∙ Rhythm. Clapping, skipping, walking, running to develop rhythmic sense as well as free interpretation of music leading to formation of rhythm band with the gradual addition of instruments and discovery of talent among the indiv­idual children.

    ∙ Singing. Songs, melody, folk songs, nursery rhymes; gradual develop­ment of original songs and the development of singing games.

    ∙ Listening to the sounds of the environment as well as the sounds of musical instruments and recordings, developing musical vocabulary and the ability to compare and distinguish sounds.

    ∙ Ear Training. The use of tuned bells and bars and other pre-instrumental materials to train the ear for tone matching and musical dictation and act as the foundation for discovery of keyboard harmony.

    The Musical Experiences of the program will serve as a bridge between the large muscle activity of “The Line” and the more intellectual activity of listening.

    “>

    <>

    The Line

    One of the most successful and one of the easiest to set up in the classroom, is known as the “Line.” It is based on the well known fact that. children like to walk on lines or fences and to balance themselves. The exercise helps to develop coordination of body and perception and in­crease awareness of laterality as well as of balance.

    All that is needed to present this exercise to a class is to draw a large ellipse on the classroom floor with chalk, paint or tape. Masking tape wide enough for the child to be able to place their foot on the center of the tape is particularly good.

    The child walks on the line being careful to place one foot directly in front of the other. Observation of the child while they does this exercise serves to show both their deficiencies and their progress.

    As the child’s skill increases, they may carry a glass of water in their hand, a flag or a bell, or balance a bean bag on their head. If the child’s attention fails, the water may spill, the beanbag fall or the bell tinkle. This particular exercise helps unstable and poorly coordinated children develop better cooperation between mind and body.

    Adding music to the exercise and encouraging the children to use simple rhythm instruments such as triangle or drum encourage the development of a sense of rhythm in the child.

    The exercise has particular value on rainy days or days when the chil­dren cannot participate in outdoor or active games. It provides a physical challenge and also acts as a tension reliever.

    Research has shown that as children improve in coordination their readiness to improve in other areas also occurs. Academic achievement apparently goes hand-in-hand with muscular control and coordination, for as the child is able to free more and more of their attention from the physical problems of movement they are able to direct their attention toward other areas.

    “>

    <>

    Awareness of the World Through Our Senses

    Many of the pioneers in the education of young children made us aware of how important it is for young children to feel, to touch, to taste; in short to have manipulative sensory experiences.

    Manipulative, sensory experiences can contribute to the goal of intellectual development, however, there is a distressing tendency to lose sight of the real needs of children to be served and to let equipment lead the program. [Kenneth D. Wann, Fostering Intellectual Development in Young Children.]

    The curriculum for the Brookhaven Town Project is designed to develop the awareness of the children to the world about them through their senses.

    “>

    <>

    Societal Purposes of the Project

    • To provide a training facility for young women of limited background in the care and education of young children.
    • To develop marketable skills in these young women and provide a source of skilled non-professional day care aides for the community adding to the Town’s industrial potential and capabilities.
    • To encourage proper work attitudes among the families of the children involved in the Brookhaven Town Early Learning Program.
    • To involve parents of the children involved in the Project in the care and education of their own children and provide these parents with sufficient experiences to develop responsible community attitudes.
    • To direct the education of young mothers without a complete High School Education toward development of proper attitudes toward work and education and equip them with basic home-making and child care skills, in order that they may support the formal pre-school program by their efforts at home with their own children.

    During the initial stages of the program, the women chosen from the categories of unwed mothers; sole parents; high school dropouts and unem­ployable High School graduates, should be from among the mothers of the children already selected for the program.

    A qualified psychologist should administer appropriate tests to screen out those women who are retardates, organics or suffering from severe emotional disturbance.

    A physician should administer a thorough physical examination with specific attention to communicable diseases.

    The women will be trained to assist in the presentation of the exercises of practical daily life; elementary child care; and to serve as examples of personal courtesy and the social graces.

    Since most of these young women will be ill prepared to accept. or understand extensive verbal instruction, the program must be based on education by demonstration and essentially non-verbal in approach. Each woman must experience the program activities for themselves.

    To reinforce the self-image of these women and develop group feeling, it is suggested that a simple uniform for the women in training be adopted. It could be styled much as a laboratory coat, but in color and with a distinctive emblem and designation, such as C.D.S. (Child Development Specialist)

    What follows is a general outline of the program for these women and comments on the general. community implications of it.

    “>

    <>

    Personal Grooming and Hygiene.

    In connection with food preparation and serving a program of good grooming and personal hygiene will be presented.

    Adult volunteers from the community as well as social workers will serve in training and advisory capacities. The women of the program will be taught to organize their outer selves and improve their own, personal lives as part of their preparation for assisting the children in the project to do the same.

    It is only through the development of an attractive self-image that these women can concentrate on the more abstract areas of career training and care of their homes.

    By caring for the well being of the children in the program, the C.D.S. trainees can both teach and learn, developing sound emotional relationships through the program.

    The adult volunteers will provide special skills in training the women, but more important, they will provide the stimulus and example of daily application of the principles being taught the CDS. trainees and enable these women to develop one-to-one relationships outside their peer group during the work day.

    Among the areas of the Educational Program for the Child Development Specialist Trainees that should be considered are:

    “>

    <>

    Survey of Children’s Cultural Materials.

    There is a vast array of children’s books, musical and story recor­dings, and suitable art including painting, sculpture and other forms, which can be used to enhance and broaden a child’s understanding and sensitivity to the world about him. These materials can be used very effectively in child development experiences. The women who will later participate in the instructional program for pre-school children must have a first-hand knowledge of these materials.

    Such a training program in the use of these cultural materials for children will also serve to provide necessary experiential background to those women who need it without embarrassing them by pointing out the need for remedial or enrichment work.

    “>

    <>

    A Survey of Science for Children.

    The delay in teaching of science has already been remedied in many of our elementary schools, however, the pre-school program of the Brookhaven Project provides the opportunity to expose the children to basic experiments with magnets, seeds, animal behavior, weather observations, the pattern of the seasons, and the use of simple scientific instruments such as the mag­nifying glass, telescope, thermometer and the like.

    The C.D.S. Trainees will learn the simple experiments and develop the method of making scientific observations of their own environment for the purpose of awakening curiosity and interest in investigation among the child­ren in their care.

    “>

    <>

    A Mothers Bank

    Much of the war on poverty must be a women’s war. An all out effort by the women of Brookhaven Town must be made to win this War. The cultural and financial resources of the Town of Brookhaven, the County of Suffolk or the Federal Government are alone not enough to succeed, human resources must be utilized to their fullest extent in the Community effort. A “Mothers Bank” serving the pre-school centers established under the Brookhaven Project is a first step toward tapping the vast potential of Brookhaven Town’s human resources.

    The Mothers Bank can provide the security of the friendly voice, the kindly manner, the respectful adult, the warm safe hand that leads to ‘special excursions,’ the one-to-one relationship that can be counted on and holds the promise of widened horizons and enriching experiences.

    The Mothers Bank respects the need for “spaces in togetherness.” It does not intrude. It is not emotionally upsetting. It is not gushy overdoting. But it does extend the feeling of sincere fondness that young children are so quick to recognize as genuine and it does build mutual trust.

    The Mothers Bank provides that extra special spur-of-the-moment excitement, as hand-in=hand a volunteer from the “Bank” and a young child visit the steam shovel at work just down the street, the house being constructed on the next block; explore the store that just opened; make that very special individual birthday trip.

    The Mothers Bank volunteer is a woman free of the responsibility of pre-school age children of their own, who find themselves with the time and desire to assist in a very special, yet limited, way in the growth of the children of the pre-school program.

    A simple walk to a nearby place in the neighborhood so often taken for granted, is a trip to the great wide wonderful world to the child with limited experiential background. The identification of simple things along the way and the encouragement from having an adult actually listen form the basis for success in the classroom situation. The hand of a Mothers Bank volunteer leads the child beyond the confines of their home and school into the community.

    <>

    The Teenagers

    Teenagers tend to be confused, not so much because of inner psychological conflict, but because in our society they tend to be suspended between the play-world of childhood and the work-world of adulthood. Lacking satisfactory status, they often become irresponsible just at the time society and the Community demand an increase in maturity from them.

    There is something to be said for the philosophy of apprenticeship even if not for the way in which it has been carried out. It used to give the young person a special status and recognition by the adult community.

    Providing our own teenagers with real, rewarding responsibilities would help to resolve some of the conflict between adolescents and adults.

    High School Dropouts who find themselves without marketable skills are in a delicate as well as difficult situation. The problem is compounded when the teenage woman becomes a mother and finds herself unable to cope with the problems of their infant, much less those of the unemployed and probably unemployable father of their child.

    There is a definite need for special programs to help these young people while recognizing their need for a status and identity of their own.

    The proposed program for training Child Development Specialists in the Town of Brookhaven serves the dual function of teaching skills and creating status; the program would provide hope and self-respect to the young mother and encourage them to continue the education and personal development of them young charges.

    [Bibliography omitted] * * *

    June, 1964