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Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching

This is an excerpt from Moving with Words & Actions by Rhonda Clements & Sharon Schneider.

To ensure student learning, you must not only know your content and its related objectives and pedagogy, but also have knowledge of the students to whom you wish to teach that content. This understanding was missing in earlier times, before the realization that students in kindergarten through grade 12 learn best through active engagement in their individual ways. This awareness is sometimes referred to as knowledge of students to inform teaching, and many early childhood professionals have adopted this thinking for their lesson planning (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, & Equity [SCALE], 2016). They recognize that effective teachers take into account many factors that can influence the success of a lesson, such as a child's limited English ability, or differences in travel experiences, or even how much sleep a child had before coming to class. Therefore, the following lists identify characteristics of preschool and kindergarten students you should consider when planning age-appropriate lessons. This will increase the likelihood that your students will be able to participate more fully in the lessons.

What Young Children Can Remember

  • Colors, shapes, letters, and figures described in movement tasks
  • Objects associated with a particular setting
  • The names of story characters
  • Past experiences to yield new movement patterns
  • The names of locomotor and nonlocomotor skills

How Young Children Can Practice Creative Thinking

  • Pretending to move like an object or thing
  • Imagining that the body is manipulating an object to complete a task
  • Visualizing items that cannot be seen
  • Discovering a novel way to move
  • Following an imaginary pathway

How Young Children Like to Solve Simple Problems

  • Recognizing how things are different and alike
  • Working out a movement response
  • Finding ways to improve the movement response
  • Using the body to show how different objects feel when touched
  • Discovering how to link movements

Young Children's Beginning Language Development

  • Identifying the names of the body parts
  • Demonstrating the meaning of words to a poem, song, or story
  • Discussing facts related to objects or things
  • Assuming the language of an imaginary character
  • Making wants known
  • Conveying words that express emotion

How Young Children Understand Themselves

  • Using specific body parts to show how they feel
  • Using specific body parts in the development of a game
  • Realizing they have the ability to control the speed with which their body moves
  • Learning the roles of people who influence their life
  • Realizing that the body can perform movements related to specific animals

How Young Children Can Interact With Peers

  • Switching roles with a classmate
  • Manipulating a partner's body to move in specific ways
  • Working with classmates to form a large object with their bodies
  • Demonstrating cooperation with classmates

Learn more about Moving With Words & Actions.

More Excerpts From Moving with Words & Actions