Preschoolers: Is Bigger Better? – Teacher’s Corner

Teacher’s Corner
Teachers often decide what children can do based on their age, grade, and/or size. Here are some other things to think about.
When a student is bigger or smaller than many other children in their grade or their age, teachers can easily over- or under-expect of them. Tall students are often expected to talk like, be as outgoing as and be able to control emotions like an older child – just because they look older than they are. Small children are often not given the opportunities that larger children are. They are not given a chance to speak for themselves, try physical activities, or be independent – just because they look younger than they are. Be careful about how your student’s size, age, or grade affects your expectations of them.
Students’ behavior and maturity are also important in deciding what they can handle. What a student is big or old enough for may not be what she is really ready for. One good plan for teachers is to try things out, carefully watch what happens, and then make final decisions.
If a student is a different shape than many of his peers (for example, heavier or thinner), he may be labeled by other students. These labels can be hurtful and can stick with students for years and years – even into their adulthood. Teachers can help by paying attention to how students are being labeled and helping them reject any hurtful “names” or “ideas” that they are hearing.
After the prompts we have included suggestions regarding ways to use this blog in your classroom and why this blog can be a useful tool in your classroom.  So, get your students to think, pair, and share and see what develops.

The following are writing prompts and discussion topics you can use with your students about how size affects expectations.

  1. Do you think that sometimes taller, bigger children are treated like they are older than they are? If yes,
    • Is this a good thing for them? Why?
    • Is this a problem for them? Why?
  2. Do you think that sometimes shorter, smaller children are not allowed to do things other children their age are allowed to do? If yes,
    • Is this a good thing for them? Why?
    • Is this a problem for them? Why?
  3. Think about a parent deciding whether a nine-year-old should be allowed to have a later bedtime or stay overnight at a friend’s house. What are two things other than age that the parent should think about to make this decision? Be sure to explain why the two things are important.
NOTE: If you prefer that students not be required to write about or discuss themselves, suggest they respond to the prompts by talking about their experiences with friends or relatives instead of themselves.
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
    • Use the blog for discussion topics
    • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
  2. For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
  • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
  • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
  • What would be your advice on this topic?
  • What was left out of this article?
  • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.

What do you think?

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