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Not Just Coloring

Do you notice the pencil grip? The concentration? That she is sitting backwards on the bench? That she is working hard...and peaceful at the same time?

The truth is that OCA students don't color all that much. There are lots and lots of things for them to do at any given time that are more valuable and enriching than coloring, but this simple picture shows a ton about what's important to the correct formation of a young scholar.

A good pencil grip is a great indicator of reading and writing readiness. When properly instructed, children will automatically pick up and grip a pencil in an efficient manner. If your child is holding the pencil awkwardly, or with tension, then you can look back to their kindergarten experience and know that something went wrong.

Child Development in the Classroom

Back in the mid-1990's, the California legislature determined we should raise academic standards, which isn't a bad idea of course. But what occurred next was a travesty and has hurt a couple generations of children, and if left unchanged, will continue to do so. What we know about how children grow and develop was thrown out the door and replaced with inappropriate practices for our youngest children.

Kindergarten, as determined by typical 4-5 year old truths, should be a place where children develop motor-sensory skills. Auditory and Visual perception skills, gross motor and fine motor, tactile and kinesthetic. These skills can only be learned through active exploration and discovery. This means doing - not reading and writing about doing. Kindergarten students who continually play with clay and sticks, sew and cut, dance to rhythm and chant with rhyme, paint with their fingers...will develop the sense of lateral dominance (right and left) as well as the fine motor skills to easily pick up a pencil when its time to learn to write their name.

Pushing children to learn to write and read in kindergarten when they just aren't ready is one of the reasons why students later struggle and even fail in school. Their foundation is weakened, and we all know the consequences of weak foundations.

And here is a crazy fact - Even among kinder students who are ready developmentally to begin reading and writing, those who instead spend their time doing science, art, music, movement and such later outscore their peers who were asked to spend their kinder years with pencil in hand.

At OCA, we use Pedagogy (the science of teaching), Human Development and Brain Science when we formulate our education design, not current fad nor legislation.

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