A synopsis of early learning...
…and a couple of celebrations.
Hello and welcome to the 27th edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Things in Education.
You read it right, and the math you are doing in your head is also correct. Fortnightly newsletter. 27th edition. It means it has been a whole year of this newsletter! And we are delighted. If you are a regular reader you will know that we celebrate much smaller milestones. So you can only imagine the excitement at Things Education today!
Over the last year, we have tried to distil our learnings into easy-to-access articles (they are IN your inbox). We hope that you have enjoyed them, been helped by them or been encouraged by them. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the newsletter, and the suggestions that we have received have made our editions much better.
As long as we are sharing things…we also wanted to share that Things Education, the company that shares this newsletter, is two!
As always, we would love to hear what you have to say. Tell us what you liked or disliked. Did you strongly agree or disagree with anything we said? Or just drop in and say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past year, we have written extensively about early learning, informed by our work with teachers on professional development, our observations in preschool classrooms, and reading and contextualising cutting-edge research. The development of the unboxED Early Learning Curriculum has been the culmination of sorts of our efforts over the last year. While we were learning, we wanted to share what we learned, and that is what we have been doing over the last year with our newsletter. In this edition, we summarise our previous articles to provide a holistic picture for you.
There has been a great push for strengthening foundational learning practices across the country, thanks to the policy statements of the NEP 2020, the guidelines for implementation by NIPUN Bharat, and the curriculum framework set out by the NCF 2022.
In the 26th edition of our newsletter, we wrote about four principles of early pedagogy that we think should be the main focus of teacher training and upskilling workshops over the next few years, to meet the vision of these policy and curricular documents. Teachers are capable, and with the changing expectations, they need to be supported.
You can read the detailed post at this link: What are the 4 essentials of early pedagogy?
"I think yours is the best… …in the country on education for educators - evidence informed, engaging and practical." – Anustup Nayak
An area of early learning that has been a subject of intense debate among educators for several decades is the phonics approach to learning to read. Data has shown that there is a very real reading crisis in our country, and research points towards the benefits of a systematic phonics approach to ensure long-lasting reading success.
In the 25th edition of our newsletter, we wrote about the need for the phonics approach, what a systematic approach means, and how we can ensure a fun, multi-sensory approach to phonics instruction.
You can read the detailed post at this link: Is phonics really necessary?
"I have been loving these newsletters. They have been so useful to think about our own intervention in foundational literacy." – Sunadini
Phonics is important. However, phonics is just the starting point, focused on skills of decoding and reading fluency. The literacy practices of each child’s home form the missing piece in the reading crisis puzzle of India.
In the 2nd edition of our newsletter, we explained that no child enters school with zero literacy skills. Children have extensive vocabularies (in their own language, if not the language of the school) and literacy skills (tied to home literacy practices, if not school literacy practices). The solution lies in understanding how to bridge the gap between the practices of the home and the practices of the school.
You can read the detailed post at this link: Why are students struggling to read?
"Thank you for sending this... This was really informative and I look forward to more emails from you." – Mangal Pandey
Learning to read and learning to write go hand-in-hand. But today, in many schools across the world, handwriting classes are being replaced by typing classes. So, has handwriting become an obsolete skill?
In the 19th edition of our newsletter, we summarised the research that explains how learning to write by hand plays an important role in language development and learning to read.
You can read the detailed post at this link: “Let’s drop those handwriting classes…”
"I find your newsletters really interesting and helpful. Please keep sending." – Sanjeev Saxena
Talking about writing, we often think that preschoolers and kindergarteners – children between ages of 2 and 6 – don’t write at all. But toddlers engage in 'scribbling', and this is a very real form of writing, known as emergent writing. These are important steps towards writing letters, words and phrases.
In the 20th edition of our newsletter, we explained what early writing looks like and how we can support children’s development of writing skills.
You can read the detailed post at this link: “Kindergarteners don’t write…”
"Love love love this. Spent much of my time [at Harvard] researching exactly this idea. The importance of handwriting and drawing cannot be overstated—no matter what the developmental stage of learning." – Audra Irvine
At the same time, in order to use the right grip for scribbling and writing, children must develop and strengthen the small muscles in their hand through fine motor activities.
In the 23rd edition of our newsletter, we wrote about the focus areas of fine motor development along with examples of activities with simple material available in the classroom.
You can read the detailed post at this link: Fine motor development in the foundational years…
"I am really inspired by Things Education and especially the newsletter. Really look forward to reading that every time :)" – Sonam
While there may be many debates around the best pedagogical approaches to early learning, the need for the phonics approach and the need for handwriting practice, what most educators seem to agree on is the importance of reading storybooks in the early years. We have seen many interventions that provide digital reading solutions to all age groups. Yet, there is ample research to show that physical books are much better for learning to read and comprehend.
In the 4th edition of our newsletter, we summarised the research around how the brain restructures itself to become a proficient reader, and how digital reading devices are hampering this restructuring.
You can read the detailed post at this link: What is reading digitally doing to our brains?
"Helpful! Thanks for sharing latest research summaries with examples to understand the future and trends of education…" – Shaheen Khalpa
Apart from early language and literacy acquisition, we have also written about classroom management and pedagogical practices, among other things. We will summarise them in our next edition.
In the next year, we will also move our focus from early language learning to foundational numeracy, skill building in preschoolers and socio-emotional-ethical value-building within the preschool classroom.
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