Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog


2 Comments

Use Your Noodle: Working Memory

Working Memory.  Sounds like “edu-speak,”, huh?  Maybe it could be referring to a portion of computer processes going on right now within this box of plastics and metals. Could it be the opposite of “Broken Memory?”

Simply stated, it refers to the actions your brain performs when you are “in the moment” and trying to recall and hold onto information to complete a task.  For example, you meet a new co-worker in a 9:00 am meeting.  At 9:15 when you try to introduce her to another employee, you are cursing your memory because you cannot, for the life of you, recall her name.  That is working (or maybe not) memory.

We use working memory for everything from dialing a phone number to knowing which exit to take on the freeway.  Working memory is where we pull up relevant information, analyze how to use it and put it to work.

So how does this effect my preschooler?  Many of the difficulties that young children have fall within the boundaries of working memory.  Is your child “not listening” in class?  Are they seemingly unable to follow directions?  Do they frequently get distracted when they are supposed to be working on a task?  Do they find it difficult to stay on topic when they are part of a discussion?

Young children are growing in this area.  As Pre-kindergarten teachers, we see working memory developing on a continuum.    It is common for new four year olds to have difficulty following 3 step directions.   They have a hard time remembering each part of the direction, holding these in their head and then acting on each in order.

When remembering a string of steps is important, we try to help our students succeed by making our directions as succinct as possible.  We choose to use three or less keywords that represent tasks and routines the children have already had many experiences with.  For instance, when it is time to come inside a commonly overheard chant is, “Boots, coats, carpet!”  This short phrase replaces, “First take off your boots and put them on the tray, then hang up your coat, finally go back to the carpet, have a seat and put on your shoes.”  We have found that using less words makes the directions “stickier” and much easier to recall.

Working memory is visible in kid-writing, too.  Young children generally go through very distinct stages of writing.  When our Pre-K students get to the stage of writing where they begin using letters to represent sounds they hear in our language the first sound in each word is usually all they can hold onto.  With practice, they learn to repeat the word and listen for another sound, maybe a middle or an end.

There are times when the capacity to access working memory goes on the fritz.  Imagine Lucy is sitting in Morning Meeting, watching the teacher, remembering that she needs to look at the speaker, listen with her ears and keep her body safe.  She is holding all of these routines in her working memory while also processing, analyzing and sorting the information spoken aloud in the group.

While she is listening, Lucy thinks she hears one of her peers say her name.  She looks over and sees a couple of friends giggling.  Lucy isn’t sure what is going on, but thinks they must be laughing at her.  She is embarrassed and angry.  Lucy hollers across the room, “Quit laughing at me!”

In this example, Lucy knew that yelling out during Morning Meeting was not the best way to solve her problem, but was unable to pull up other options into her working memory once she began to feel stress.   This can be especially difficult for adults to understand and accept.  Often patience and acknowledging this is development in progress is the best approach.

 

 

 


3 Comments

“He won’t let me be [do] what I want!”

This is a common complaint in the Pre-K classroom. Sometimes it’s “he”, sometimes “she” and most often “they.”  No matter which pronoun precedes the declaration, it is certainly “not my fault!”.  The Pre-K child’s development of fairness, self and place in the social world drives the logic behind feelings of inequity.

Here is an example of a conversation I overheard recently.  Two children were already engaged in a game of “family” under the loft.  Two other children wanted to join in on the game:
(all names are ridiculously fictitious)

Ivan: Mrs. Forst! Mrs. Forst! She won’t let us play! 

Blessing: But, Mrs. Forst, They aren’t playing right!

Harold: Yeah! She won’t let us play her game!

Mrs. Forst:  Blessing, tell me what happened?

Blessing: Ivan “grrrrrred” at me and he breathed in my face.

Ivan: I was a bear! I was a BAD bear and I was going to eat her.

Blessing: And Harold just yanked all of our food away. He didn’t even ask!

Harold: But I didn’t have any food.

(at this time the words were flying like bats out of a cave, I had to do something to make the discussion more focused…)

Mrs. Forst: Ivan, what do you want?

Ivan: I want to play with them.

Mrs. Forst: Blessing, what do you want?

Blessing: I don’t want them to be bad bears and steal our food.

Mrs. Forst: Ivan, ask her how you can play in their game.

Ivan: What can we do in your game?

Blessing: You can be good family or pets.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Letter Reversal in Preschool Writing…

Here is an example of why we needn’t worry so much about our little ones’ writing.

Letter Reversal in Preschool Writing….


Leave a comment

A Peek Outside (and in)

Here is a peek at what has been going on outside WTN lately.

 

 

We’ve seen:

  • persistence
  • cooperation
  • innovation
  • independent play
  • the scientific method
  • self-regulation
  • problem solving
  • attribute sorting
  • careful observation of classmates and nature
  • social and physical experiments
  • coordination of motor tasks
  • kindness
  • humor
  • compassion

All of these life enriching skills were practiced outside while engaging in student-driven play.


Leave a comment

A little while ago, we had a very special visitor to help us in our quest to understand ornithology.  Meet Rainbow Dash, a parakeet who loves to sing, flits happily around in his cage and was a lovely friend to spend time with.  While observing Mr. Dash, the children noticed that he enjoyed hopping from branch to branch and didn’t really fly much inside his home.  Although the children were a bit disappointed, they took it rather well when we informed them that, no, he was not going to have a chance to fly around the room.


1 Comment

Mud and Volcanos

Good Afternoon, Everybody!
I just wanted to send out a bit of an explanation concerning the state of your children’s clothes.  At recess today many were exploring the power of gravity, water, and the beauty of mud.  The photos below contain an image of a volcano with running lava, a view of our lovely gloves, and a nicely formed rectangular pit.  Great fun was had by all, but sadly, a trip to the washing machine will be in store for much of our outer-wear.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a comment

A Pre-K Pet?

Below is a list of possible pets that the Pre-K students came up with today.  We announced the possibility of getting a pet this week and thought that it would be best if the children were invested in said creature.  As you can see, we have some discussions in front of us.  We would love to hear what you have to say about this question as well.  Please vote and let us know which animal YOU think is the best for our classroom.