How Education is Like Building a House
I’ve always said that the most serious impediment to educational progress during the early years is the refrigerator door. Too many parents want to see tangible evidence that their little one is learning something. That is, they want to be handed a worksheet or project that they can take home and hang on the refrigerator door with magnetic fruit so they can say, “See! My child learned his letters! He learned his numbers! He learned his colors!”
Unfortunately, this puts pressure on early educators to focus on products rather than processes. As a result, they spend a lot of time “instructing” the children to produce the desired worksheet or project instead of truly “educating” the children by giving them the sort of opportunities that permit them to develop the broad concepts and general skills that make learning anything specific incredibly easy and immensely enjoyable later on.
It’s like building a house. If you put all your money and effort into the roofing tiles, the siding, the window shutters, and the landscaping, you’ll end up with a house that looks very pretty. But if you have neglected to pour the concrete base and erect the steel and wood frame, all that pretty stuff will be hanging on nothing and will soon fall apart. You might have some nice pictures to look at, but you won’t have any place to live. Meanwhile, pouring the base and erecting the frame may not produce many photo opportunities, but it does provide a solid foundation upon which all the nice looking stuff can be added with meaning and integrity.
As any first grade teacher will tell you, the children who are succeeding in school are not characterized by their accomplishments of the past, but rather by their ability and eagerness to learn in the future. And that is why our classes at Romp n’ Roll encourage the kids to absorb, adapt, organize, explore, investigate, experiment, and problem-solve through fun, fascinating, free-form play. So when your child finishes a Romp n’ Roll class, don’t expect him to hand you a project that you can hang on your refrigerator door every time. Instead, count on him to have inspiration in his eyes, confidence in his gait, excitement in his voice, and a smile on his face.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.