Personal Teaching Philosophy in Early Childhood Education

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I believe children learn optimally through constructive social interactions with their teachers and peers and through hands-on experiences with their surroundings. Overall, I believe that learning is the internalization of knowledge and information that exist outside of a learner. Social interactions and hands-on experiences are essential to intellectual development among children (Gray & MacBlain, 2015). I believe that a teacher’s role in education is to create a learning environment conducive for practical learning through social interactions among learners and their teachers. On the contrary, I believe the role of a learner, particularly a child within a classroom, is to internalize the values, attitudes and behaviors advocated for by their teachers. Succeeding sections of this paper expounds on my teaching philosophy in regards to the role of the child learner, role of the teacher, and the necessary conditions of a learning environment.

Role of the child in learning

I believe children within a classroom develop their cognitive and behavioral processes by observing and listening to their teachers and their peers. Social cultural theory postulates that the cognitive development of children relies on the children’s interaction with either peers or adults who the children perceive to have advanced cognitive capabilities (Augustine, 2011). For example, children learn how to sharpen a pencil by observing an older peer or a teacher demonstrate how to sharpen a pencil, and then practice the skill of pencil sharpening to gain hands-on experience. Thus, I believe a child is an active agent in the learning process whereby a child actively learns to solve real-world problems like sharpening a pencil by internalizing knowledge through observation and practice.

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My understanding of the role of a child in the learning process is informed by the four elements of observational learning postulated under Albert Bandura’s social cognitive Theory. Social cognitive theory asserts that children learn by keenly observing the outcomes of actions performed by their peers or teachers (Gray & MacBlain, 2015). If a child observes a peer being applauded for obeying a teacher’s instructions, then the child will imitate the peer to attract the same reward of applause. Contrarily, if a child observes that disobeying a teacher attracts ridicule or scorn from the teacher, then the child will avoid disobedience towards teachers. 

I believe that understanding the four steps of observational learning including attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivational processes is important in understanding how a child actively internalizes social interactions to gain knowledge. At the first stage of attention, children pay optimal attention to a teacher or a peer they adore as a role model (Carr & Donggun, 2017). In the second stage of retention, children retain simple steps of performing an activity more than they retain complex step. The third stage of motor reproduction involves building sufficient cognitive and physical dexterity to repeat memorized behaviors of role models (Dale, 2015). Lastly, the stage of motivational responses depends on the attractiveness of rewards or punishments that follow specific behaviors.  

Based on the four stages of observational learning, I believe that children pay keener attention to the visible behavioral actions and consequences of those actions than they pay to the utterances of the teachers. Based on the first two stages of cognitive development proposed under Piaget’s cognitive theory, children below seven years have not developed intellectual capacities to understand their environment through logical thinking (Illeris, 2009). Rather, children below seven years learn through sensorimotor, particularly visual, perception of symbols, signs, and words (Pritchard, 2013). Thus, I believe the role of children in a classroom is to engage in active sensorimotor perception of their environment and repeat what they observe through motor reproduction and motivational processes.

Role of the Teacher in Learning

I believe that my role as a teacher is to guide children during learning through actions that either encourage or discourage specific behaviors. As aforementioned, children learn actively through observation and reproduction of behaviors they observe. As postulated in Vygotsky’s social cultural theory, the motivation to repeat an observed behavior depend on the perceived consequences of the underlying behavior (Anning, Cullen & Fleer, 2009). Thus, children are motivated to repeat behaviors that attract rewards and avoid repeating behaviors that attract punishment.

As a teacher, I believe my role in a child’s learning is to dispense rewards and punishment in a manner that optimizes desirable behavioral responses and discourages unwanted behaviors. Skinner’s principles of behaviorism, particularly the concept of operant conditioning, assert that the type and timing of consequences accorded to behaviors serve to either weaken or strengthen the behaviors. As a teacher, my role involves employing both positive and negative reinforcements to strengthen desirable behaviors among my students. 

I understand that children are more likely to repeat admirable behaviors like observing silence in class if their silence is rewarded through reinforcements continuously. Continuous reinforcement schedules encourage progressive behavioral changes among learners (Pritchard, 2013). Thus, my role as a teacher will involve paying close attention to learner’s behavioral responses and providing appropriate consequences or reinforcements to increase the prevalence of positive behaviors among my students.

Creating a Favorable Learning Environment

As aforementioned, I believe that children’s role in learning involves internalizing behaviors they observe from their peers and teachers. Thus, optimal learning only occurs in an environment where children can optimally transfer what they observe from their working memories to their long-term memories (Lecce, Marcella, Pagnin & Robin, 2017). The information processing model of cognitive development asserts that children retrieve what have been transferred into their long-term memories through recognition, recalling, and reconstruction. 

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Children can recognize and recall what they learned earlier if teachers had provided memorable and strong sensory stimuli while teaching. For example, a 4-year-old child can recognize a red color during a test if the teacher had visually presented a red color in class during earlier lessons. In this context, I believe a classroom that promotes optimal learning should contain visual learning aids including sensory-stimulating learning charts to enable students recognize and recall concepts learned in previous sessions (Bullough, Hall, MacKay & Marshall, 2014). 

Key Lessons Learned from this Course

This course on the philosophy of early childhood education taught me that children still lack cognitive abilities to learn on their own. According to Piaget’s cognitive theory, cognitive structures of children develop in progressive stages whereby children below 7 years cannot learn to interact with their environment without guidance from an adult (Lecce et al., 2017). Preschoolers depend on their teachers to know how to interact with their peers and how to respond to new situations in their lives (Blenkin & Kelly, 1996). Therefore, this course made me appreciate that a teacher in early childhood development is the primary sources of knowledge for preschool learners. In future, I will pay more attention to my behavioral responses to ensure that my preschool students do not observe and reproduce any negative behavior that I might inadvertently portray during my interaction with them. 

In conclusion, I believe that a teacher in early childhood learning should always portray positive behavioral responses because preschool learners gain knowledge by internalizing and reproducing what they observe from their teachers. Thus, teachers should exhibit modeled behaviors to promote positive learning among children. Also, preschool teachers should incorporate sensorimotor learning aids in preschool classrooms because preschoolers learn optimally through sensory perceptions and hands-on practices. 

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  1. Anning, A., Cullen, J & Fleer, M. (2009). Early Childhood Education: Society and Culture. Cambridge: SAGE 
  2. Augustine, S. (2011). The Philosophy of Teaching: A Study in the Symbolism of Language. Raleigh: Literary Licensing
  3. Blenkin, G & Kelly, A. (1996). Early Childhood Education: A Developmental Curriculum. New York: SAGE Publications
  4. Bullough, R., Hall, K., MacKay, K & Marshall, E. (2014). Head start and the intensification of teaching in early childhood education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 55-63
  5. Carr, M & Donggun, A. (2017). Learning styles theory fails to explain learning and achievement: Recommendations for alternative approaches. Personality and Individual Differences, 116(3), 410-416
  6. Dale, S. (2015). Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. Pittsburg: Pearson Education\
  7. Gray, C & MacBlain, S. (2015). Learning Theories in Childhood. Cambridge: SAGE
  8. Illeris, K. (2009). Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning theories in their own words. London: Routledge
  9. Lecce, S., Marcella, C., Pagnin, A & Robin, B. (2017). Theory of mind and school achievement: The mediating role of social competence. Cognitive Development, 44, 85-97
  10. Pritchard, A. (2013). Ways of Learning: learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom. London: Routledge
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