Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kindergarten Curriculum

Kindergarten children should be taught how to play music, learn songs and nursery rhymes (yes, memorize them), and learn their numbers, letters, and sounds.


Kindergarten is the time to establish the most basic of foundations. You cannot do math without number, you cannot read without letters, and you cannot learn without memory.

Kindergarten children need to learn numbers according to number theory, according to the natural patterns into which our Arabic numerals fall:

  0    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9
10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19
20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29

The pattern here is immediately obvious, and in my experience results in students learning their numbers extremely rapidly. The standard number line, which starts with 1 and ends with 10, completely masks this pattern, and slows children's learning down considerably.

We do of course have the Alphabet Song, but for some reason there are those who discourage its use. Discouraging its use is a great idea if you want to prevent children from learning their alphabet. Children need to completely memorize the song first, and then the teacher needs to have everyone sing the song as she points out each and every letter.

I have also come up with a little song/poem for the vowels:

A, E, I, O, U       ( / u / u / )
A E I O U           ( / u / u / )
All these letters are the vowels     ( / u / u / u /)
And sometimes Y is, too!             ( u / u /  u / )

 After each line I showed the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables to help with the rhythm.

Kindergarten children ought to be learning the names of things---objects and animals, in particular---and songs, nursery rhymes, fables and fairy tales (these latter two preferably in verse form) are ways of introducing the names of things, as well as address various moral subjects. Pictures should always accompany these, so that they can see that the words are indeed names of things.

So, for example, if you were to teach the fable of the fox and the grapes, have a picture of a fox and some grapes. And just start telling the story. When you get to the word "fox," point to the picture of the fox, and when you get to the word "grapes," point to the picture of the grapes. Don't tell them the words outside of the context of the story. It is the story which gives the words (and the objects) meaning. In a context of meaning, they will better remember the facts.

Also, if you choose to read/tell a story, that cannot be the one and only time you read or tell it. Rather, the students should memorize each and every story/fable/nursery rhyme. Spend the day learning the piece, and each Friday review each piece the students were to have memorized, as reinforcement. On Mondays, see how well the students memorized the pieces. If they haven't memorized them well, review until they do. This will take longer at the beginning of the year, but as students memorize more and more, their memories will improve, making memorization easier.

Memorization is important because memorization exercises and thus expands memory. And the stronger your memory, the more you can learn. Since the entire purpose of an education is learning, one should use any and all established methods of improving memory. And Kindergarten is the time to do it.

Kindergarten children should also learn music. Learning music has been tied to improved math scores, improved reading scores, and better learning outcomes overall. Further, they will reinforce the rhythmic literature and learning methods you will be using. So in a real sense, what we are talking about here is an education literally rooted in music.

Wood sticks are a good thing to start with because with them you can teach rhythm. You can then use them to emphasize the rhythms of the songs, etc. Use of these sticks---as well as keyboards, to which you should eventually move---will also improve movements and dexterity. The more in control of their bodies children are, the more self-control they exhibit in class. So training their bodies to move is an important aspect, all too often overlooked. Learning to play musical instruments will help students learn physical control over their own bodies.

So, too, will martial arts, and probably the best one to use in a classroom setting is Tai Chi, since it is slow and contained to a small location. Its slowness and the emphasis on paying close attention to both one's movements and one's breathing also makes it fundamentally meditative. The school day should begin with Tai Chi exercises to get everyone in the right physical-mental state to learn.

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