Why you won’t see flashcards at The Nest…
When it comes to materials, what you see and what you don’t see at The Nest is based on intentional choices that reflect the school’s educational philosophy as well as our beliefs about how children learn.
You won’t see flashcards or workbooks or computer software for children at The Nest. You won’t see toys that light-up or make electronic noises.
You will see magnifying glasses, abacuses, many types of blocks, clay, crayons, dress-up clothes, books, mirrors, dolls, buckets of rice and flour and cornstarch with a variety of measuring spoons and cups for pouring and dumping, puzzles, musical instruments, among many other materials.
A recent reprint of an article from 2003 in the U.S News & World Report entitled “Learning: The Power of Simple Play” describes the reasons why we emphasize the latter and not the former materials in our approach to education. There has been virtually no research that demonstrates that children are at a learning advantage by engaging in memorization of facts or “cramming” for kindergarten at the preschool age. Children are hard-wired for learning. They are learning everyday at almost every moment. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that creates anxiety in parents about whether or not their 2-year old is going to be “kindergarten-ready”.
According to Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, director of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware, “We have parents of newborns asking us, ‘When should I start the flashcards?’ The marketplace knows parents are eager, so it makes products that claim to make your child’s brain bigger and smarter. Yet there’s not a shred of evidence that any of these products have any effect on kids’ heads…We are confusing memorization with achievement.”
At The Nest, we trust children and the natural learning processes with which they enter the world. We believe that it is our job to nurture and support these processes by providing engaging, rich, interesting experiences and materials.
We encourage parents of young children to strive to celebrate and be present with where their children are during their preschool years and celebrate the wonderful learning that is occuring RIGHT NOW. It’s inevitable that you will look ahead to kindergarten and wonder what your children need to know and what they should be able to do to be ready for that transition. This article (“Ready for Kindergarten?”) was written for parents, and provides a description of the “kindergarten-readiness” skills for which kindergarten teachers are typically looking. We are confident that the constructivist pedagogical approach at The Nest supports children in developing the important concepts and skills that will mean success in kindergarten and beyond.
What a great post! As a parent, I gravitate toward the simple toys and away from those with lights and noises, and I love that my son’s school environment takes the same direction. Like all parents, though, I do sometimes worry a little about things like “Is he saying enough words? Is he doing enough things? Is he comparing well with the other kids?” How refreshing to have some clearly-reasoned ideas and research to let me relax and follow my instincts.
– Holly Wilhelm