Accelerated Learning Needs To Be Child-led
Our 5 year old San Yu (our Chinese program) students took a mid year assessment recently, testing Standard 1 materials. Most of them scored exceptionally well.
We run accelerated on many subjects. For instance, the 6 year old children would have been prepared to Standard 1 Chinese by term 2 of their K2 year (6-9 months ahead). With a particularly motivated 5 year old class who leads our pace with their eagerness, we are running much faster. The San Yu accelerated classes are optional and elective.
Why do we accelerate learning? There's two key reasons.
Firstly, we believe in early learning. It's important to read the child's cues and keep learning joyous. When a child wants to find out more, initiate more practice, indulge her and let her soak up earnestly.
In a series of research relating longitudinal study on gifted children conducted by Julian C. Stanley and team, it is found that these intellectually talented children do not need brand new materials or teaching methods. They simply need to access harder material at their own pace. For instance, a 6 year old devouring high school math material.
Secondly, we prepare children for all streams of primary which start year 1 at different entry points. We feel it is our fiduciary duty to prepare our students adequately and provide them with a solid foundation.
Unfortunately, there has been trends of schools creeping up their standard at each level. Some practice enforced harder materials for all to cherry pick better students, to train the 'muscles' so the students can score better in the final formal exam.
The creeping up of standards enforced at entry by some primary schools has filtered down effect to preschools. It contains many pitfalls.
In a study conducted by David J. Nicole et al on 'Formative assessment and self-regulated learning' shows how regular checkpoints provide feedbacks for a child to intelligently self-regulate learning and build on his ability. This empowers a child to take a proactive approach to his learning. Intelligent self-regulation requires the child to take into account his interest, his present state of readiness.
When a school chooses unilaterally harder material, not based on feedbacks nor readiness from its students, it interferes with the student's intelligent self-regulation on learning.
In the other words, a school may not have taken into account a child's readiness to master the concepts and may be unwittingly forcing the child to rote memorise ways to score. A child with straight As may have blandly learnt how to score well for that system. The years of schooling may be means to an end, a 'good job' because of his 'good grades', a myth we should stop perpetuating to our children.
When a child moves at a certain pace because he is used to someone nudging (or pushing) him along, he does not appreciate the journey nor could he see the goalpost. What happens when the force stops pushing him?
Enforcing harder materials on the cohort does not add to our child's IQ and most definitely, not motivation.
Learning is a lifelong process and it is paramount to keep the experience joyous. Let our child leads us in his learning.