A recent article in The Atlantic discusses the growing concern among researchers and parents that pushing preschoolers to focus on pre-academic essentials, such as phonics, could actually be decreasing our children’s enthusiasm about school. The article notes that young children learn best by exploring the world around them in their own way, and by engaging in conversation with adults and other children. When teachers quickly push children from one structured activity to the next, conversation falls by the wayside and development suffers.
Portland Kinderschule has long used an active and exploratory model for educating students. This model lends itself well to immersion education. At Portland Kinderschule, German is taught conversationally. Formal “sit-down” education times are focused on discussions about things the children encounter in the world around them, reading stories and acting out small plays. Free-play time is abundant throughout the day and children are given space to explore. Many children are able to converse with each other in German and this is encouraged by teachers.
Our program not only fosters development by focusing on exploration and conversation but also has the added benefit of doing all of this while teaching students the German language.