Teaching Low Income, Disadvantaged Children in A Predominantly Latino Community Where Behavior and Legal Status Are Issues
Wissenschaftlicher Aufsatz 2012 9 Seiten
Being an Internship student and teaching in a preschool has provided me with numerous and varied benefits for an aspiring teacher as myself. The way a school operates; receiving feedback on skills, learning disciplinary measures, and serving as part of an educational staff are some of the opportunities I have experienced. Two of the most valued benefits are the classroom experience and the chance to be mentored by experienced teachers. This paper will discuss the behaviors I have observed in the children throughout the internship, as well as the connection of these behaviors to educational and development theories for children aged three to five, specifically disadvantaged children in a Latino community. The benefits received by completing the internship in relation to future growth and through supervision will also be examined. Suggestions and recommendations will be made for individuals wishing to complete an internship. The paper will conclude with a personal growth section where it will be explained how completing this process has altered my future goals and impacted me personally.
The site used in this paper is a non-profit bilingual preschool which provides expert education to disadvantaged, low-income, and at risk children in a Latino community. The ages of the children are from three to five years old, and the purpose of the program is to prepare these Spanish speaking children for the transition to kindergarten in the public school system. The wish of the school is to make English their primary language, while explicitly supporting Spanish literacy and to help families to connect with the community resources and to adjust to the American culture. Social and long term academic success is paramount to the preschool. Every child enrolled in the school was born in the United States making them American citizens, but their parents may not be legal residents. Research shows that parent involvement enhances the academic achievement of children. Latino-English students are consistently low in the achievement gap, which leads itself to the assumption of lack of parent engagement (Smith, 2006). This preschool is helping parents with the knowledge of the importance of attending parent-teacher conferences, as well as assimilating more rapidly. The work at this school is especially significant because the public school system in the area does not offer a bilingual pre-kindergarten program.
The 13 year old preschool is relatively small and offers two half day programs designed for children of economically challenged families. The capacity of the preschool is 72 children that are divided into two shifts-morning and afternoon. There are three different classrooms with a different room for each age group. For this paper, the room with the four year olds will be observed. This particular room is divided into nine different interest areas: the art interest center, block area, dramatic play area, manipulative area, library, math and music center, science/discovery center, and the sand and water table. Outside, the playground is also a field of study.
Behaviors Observed During the Internship
One week before the beginning of preschool, a visit was made to the homes of the children in the four year old classroom. At this meeting the school's agenda, curriculum and what the parents can expect is discussed. At this point parents are also encouraged to ask questions and voice any concerns about specific behavioral or learning issues they may have. These home visits were positive, informative and insightful. The parents seemed eager to be involved regardless of their economic and social status. Children and parents alike seemed to look forward to the beginning of school. However, that next Monday morning, some of the children did not seem as eager, they did not want to stay, would not let their parents leave, and/or could not stop crying. Most did not remember the teacher's name. This first Monday was for learning names and familiarization on both the children and staff's behalf.
After introduction to the various areas of the classroom, the children were allowed to choose their areas of interest. The art interest area was equipped with a multitude of materials, such as clay, colors, easels, and finger paints, etc. One particular activity was making rainbows with colored paper. Rainbow lines were drawn for them and they were instructed to tear the correct color of paper and glue into its specified lines. The children glued a new color to each row and it was noticed that as the project progressed, their procedures became less exact when covering, slipping over into the next row and spacing farther apart. The children were becoming more creative and possibly losing interest with the time it took to complete. They were learning about cause and effect, developing hand-eye coordination, planning skills, and developing the small muscles in their hands.
The observation in the block interest area was that children were learning socio-emotional skills by learning to share in small groups. They were expressing creativity, increasing their attention span, and developing knowledge of spatial concepts. Sorting by size and counting as they played was observed. This play helped them develop larger muscles by lifting, grasping, moving, and carrying blocks. Some children adapt more readily to the sharing concept than others, while some still have the 'mine' mentality, but all generally play well together. Concepts are developed in the block area, for example a red block placed in front of a car will represent a stop sign, thus enabling the child to make sense of the world (Hatcher & Petty, 2004).
During the dramatic play observation, it was noticed that the children used more advanced cognitive skills than in non-pretend play and it was observed that their attention span was increased. Role playing in pretend play began as imitation, but soon the children were expanding their roles to incorporate actions relevant to the role they were playing. The interaction with their peers promoted social skills and the use of listening and speaking skills. Puzzles, blocks, and counting toys are some of the learning tools used in the manipulative interest center where children develop motor skills, and small and large muscles.
Preschool literacy is what children learn about writing and reading before they can actually perform these skills. It is important to build this foundation so when they become age appropriate to read, they will be interested and ready (Ghoting, 2006). It was observed that children were excited to recognize their letters and genuinely interested in recalling stories they had been read. Observations in the math and music center were the development of problem solving skills and one-to-one correspondence. The children were able to discern two apples from three oranges for example. They were also using hand eye coordination and small muscle motor control. Science/discovery center allowed children to question, observe, deduce, explore and describe items from their environment. It was observed at the sand and water table that besides the already mentioned skills performed; the children also learned physical science, math, and physics. The playground was a place where the children learned social skills, interaction, as well as coordination.
Having observed these children during class time, a possible explanation for many of the common behavior patterns is the fact that Spanish is the primary language spoken at home. Furthermore, many of the students' parents are in this country illegally living with substandard economic and social conditions. There are instances of family illiteracy, domestic violence, and abuse of alcohol and drugs. Some of the students show leadership skills and are quick to participate and make decisions which indicate encouraging, supportive parents. These students get frustrated with other slower children and show signs of autonomy but show feelings of guilt at the instance of failure. Others display self-doubt leading to the assumption of overprotective and authoritative parenting.
Specifically, observations will be noted for four students who will be called Chris 1 through Chris 4. Chris 1 has not grown out of his everything is 'mine' mentality. Every toy is his, especially the ones others are playing with. He is in constant need of attention from either the teacher or teacher's assistant. Chris 2 would attempt to impose his will on the other children, but when asked to help in any way, he is willing and helpful. Chris 3 showed that he wanted to keep the peace at the first sign of conflict and seemed to be the most docile and even tempered of the class. Chris 4 cried and threw temper tantrums if he did not get to pick the games, events, or stories and was observed comparing his stature with his peers. Some students showed signs of being the oldest sibling or only child requiring undivided attention, dependability, high level of achievement drive, and being spoiled. The students that are the middle children convey feelings of being left out, cheated, and would slip into a 'poor me' attitude. The children known to be the youngest wished to be pampered and if allowed would take control and tend to boss the other children around.
Connections of Behaviors to Theory
There is a relationship between environmental factors and social-emotional impediments and academic readiness in preschool children (Blackmon-Mosley, 2011). Erikson (1994) explains that a child cannot successfully progress to the next stage of development without solving the psychosocial problems of the previous stage. Therefore, if a child's fundamental needs according to Erikson's eight stage theory of psychosocial development, are unmet in the first three stages of development, atrophy between the successive stages will develop, resulting in inferior academic readiness (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). The first three stages of Erikson's theory are specific to children from birth to age five and they include "trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame and doubt, and guilt vs. initiative" (Blackmon-Mosley, 2011, p. 15). As stated in the second stage of autonomy vs. shame, overprotection may result in poor achievement, self doubt, and shame. This stage usually occurs in children between 18 months and three years of age, but it was clear from some of the student behaviors that they had not moved on from this stage yet as they still showed signs of shame when making mistakes. The third stage is seen in children aged three to five years old and appears as a result of developed skills. Initiative vs. guilt was observed in several students that were leaders and eager participants showing signs of autonmy and independence. Social factors can help resolve the conflicts giving parents and teachers an influential role in the recognition and provisions for overcoming each conflict.
Many observations of the children suggested Adler's theory of birth order and how it influences personality. This environmental factor will shape an individual's life in conjunction with socio-economic and educational influences (Kum, 1995). Adler describes the birth order effects as:
1) Children of the same family are not born into the same environment. The second child is born into a different psychological situation than the first.
2) It is not the actual order of the birth, but the psychological situation which is important. If the eldest is feeble-minded, the second may assume the role of a first- born.
3) Marked difference in age between siblings tends to reduce competition between them.
4) Birth order is not an absolute determinant, only an influence. The reaction of the parents to the child is at least as important. (Adler, 1964, pp. 96-120)
There are other elements of birth order effects which are the years between children, changing of environmental factors, and the total number of siblings. Children that are born first are generally serious, directive, aggressive, conscientious, goal oriented, exacting, conservative, responsible, competitive, and anxious. Though they learn how to use power at an early age, they may use this concept to protect, help, and lead. First born children can feel unloved with the birth of a second child because they feel a loss of their mother's love for the newborn, commonly referred to by Adler (1964) as being "dethroned."
The individual born as the middle child may possibly avoid confrontations and thought to be mediators. Besides being loyal to the many friends they will have, they will have highly developed social skills. They can be even tempered but feels left out of family privileges and significance (Adler, 1964). Middle-born children may either have difficulty find a place or be a consummate fighter of inequities. The baby of the family is charming and entertaining, as well as somewhat of a daredevil. They may often be coddled, which Adler (1964) believes is the worst behavior a parent can show a child. When entering adulthood, the pampering could lead to irresponsibility, selfishness, and dependence, as well as bossy. The only child will either take on characteristics of the first or youngest sibling and likewise be pampered, especially by the mother causing interpersonal problems if they are not particularly affable. Having to be on their own, they will become independent and do not mind being alone.
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- teaching income disadvantaged children predominantly latino community where behavior legal status issues