Educating Early

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educating earlyEducating Early is a lesson that provides you with the opportunity to consider the value of educating early and if schools are preparing students for the real world. This lesson is centred around the theme Social Organization from the IB Language B curriculum which explores the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning about the way we educate young children in different places.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
Watch a clip from the movie Matilda about her first day at school. As you watch, answer the questions in the video. What does the Principal tell the students to do in this scene?

Click here to reveal the answer and read the transcript
1. Grow up quicker.
2. Heads up.
3. Shoulders back.
4. Stomachs in.
5. Stand up straight.
6. Change those socks too pink

A: Hey you, you going to school.
B: I am first thing.
A: Tomorrow yeah yeah yeah yeah okay okay you get a real education at this place

Matilda had always wanted to go to school because she loved to learn. She tried to imagine what her new school would be like. She pictured a lovely building surrounded by trees and flowers and swings. Well, it was a building and children so regardless of what Crunchroom hall looked like she was happy to be there, after all, any school is better than no school at all isn’t it?


C: You detention, what’s your small grow up.
D: OK it’s much better than being out there.
B: Is that our teacher?
D: No that’s the principal Miss Trunchbull.
B: Gotta be kidding?
E: uUh-huh you squirts better skedaddle I’m not kidding the Trunchbull eggs snap the whip in there to see who’s trying to hide something.

You will hear a radio broadcast on the importance of recess for young children. Match the statements with the three speakers.

1. We don't need to control children.

2. They are sharpening pencils less.

3. Finnish children are healthier in many regards.

4. Some school cut recess for more academic work.

5. Children are absorbing more information faster in the classroom.

6. Children are developing better socially and emotionally with longer recess.

7. Positive behaviour is also being worked on, in addition to recess.


Click here to view transcript and answers

Recess at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, looks much like recess anyplace else. Some kids run and squeal, others swing, while a half-dozen of their peers are bunched up on the slide.

Journey Orebaugh, a 6-year-old in an off-white princess dress, is playing family.

“You just get a bunch of people and just act like who you want to be,” she says. Journey likes to play the mom.

But in one sense, recess at Eagle Mountain is different. Journey gets more opportunities to role-play than many of her peers because recess happens a lot here — four times a day, 15 minutes a pop for kindergartners and first-graders.

That’s much more time on the playground than most public school kids get in the U.S. Over the past couple of decades, schools have cut recess time to make room for tests and test prep.

Ask Journey why she and her friends get so much more recess time, and she giggles. “Lucky,” she says.

But ask the adults, and they’ll tell you it’s because Eagle Mountain is part of a project in which the school day is modelled after the Finnish school system, which consistently scores at or near the top in international education rankings. The project’s designer is Texas Christian University kinesiologist, Debbie Rhea.

“I went over there to find out where they’ve come in the last 20 to 25 years. Yes, their test scores are good, but they are also healthy in many regards,” she says.

The biggest difference Rhea noticed was that students in Finland get much more recess than American kids do. “So, I came back with the idea to bring recess back to the schools. Not just one recess, but multiple recesses.”

This year, Eagle Mountain Elementary started tripling recess time, from 20 minutes to an hour. The program also focuses on character development – things like empathy and positive behaviour.

Rhea is working with a handful of local schools already. More will join next year in Texas, California and Oklahoma.

Teachers at Eagle Mountain say they’ve seen a huge transformation in their students. They say kids are less distracted, they make more eye contact, and they tattle less.

And then there are the pencils.

“You know why I was sharpening them? Because they were grinding on them, they were breaking them, they were chewing on them. They’re not doing that now. They’re actually using their pencils for the way that they were designed — to write things!” says teacher Cathy Wells.

Wells and fellow first-grade teacher Donna McBride have six decades of teaching between them and say this year feels different. They were nervous about fitting in all the extra recess and covering the basics, but Wells says that halfway through the school year, her kids are way ahead of schedule.

“If you want a child to be attentive and stay on task, and also if you want them to encode the information you’re giving them in their memory, you’ve got to give them regular breaks,” says Ohio State University paediatrician Bob Murray.

He has compiled research that backs up what teachers at Eagle Mountain are seeing in class. Murray says brain imaging has shown that kids learn better after a break for physical activity and unstructured play.

He and his colleagues wrote up a policy statement for the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that kids with regular recess behave better, are physically healthier and exhibit stronger social and emotional development. That’s as school districts nationwide have been taking recess out of the school day.

“They want more academic time, they want more time to do the core subjects,” Murray says. “They have pretty much carved away anything that got in the way of those minutes for teaching.”

Debbie Rhea, the Texas Christian University kinesiologist, sees her program as a shift away from that thinking to giving kids more than just academics.

“We keep thinking as adults that we need to control the way they do things. I wish we’d get out of that. They know how to play, they know how to structure their own play — they need that time to grow responsibly.”

When it comes down to it, Rhea says, our kids are better off if we just let them be kids.

Adapted from Turns out the monkey bar might be good for the brain by Christopher Connelly.

1. Debbie Rhea
2. Cathy Wells
3. Debbie Rhea
4. Bob Murray
5. Cathy Wells
6. Bob Murray
7. Debbie Rhea

Read the text about the first day at school for young children.

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about educating early:

  • academic work
  • character development
  • educating early
  • education rankings
  • empathy
  • kinesiologist
  • junior infants
  • paediatrician
  • positive behaviour
  • principal
  • recess (US)
  • role-play
  • social and emotional development
  • transformation
  1.  Discuss the following points about why and how is education important for pre-school and primary school education and preparing for the real world.
  2. Imagine you are a reporter for your school’s newspaper and you have been asked to write an article on the first day of school. Interview two or three people about their experiences on the first day of a new school.
  • Give the article a heading.
  • Start with a description of a scene then explain the topic of the article.
  • Use a mixture of quotations and explanation to develop the article’s ideas.
  • End the article with something that refers back to the beginning.
We add activities and exercises like this lesson Educating Early, regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to discover their interests, values, belief and culture.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to consider how events which take place impact an individual's life.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to look at the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

Here you will find exercise to practice for the different sections of IB English B examination for either the Standard (SL) or Higher Level (HL) papers.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of English grammar to communicate effectively.

Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically.
Levels Links:
This educating early lesson is for students at an advanced level of English. This will probably be suitable for students in their fifth or sixth year of English studies. We add exercises on grammar and vocabulary as well as whole text activities on a regular basis. In addition, we provide test practice activity for students who are preparing for the C1 Advanced which is part of the Cambridge Assessment English Main Suite as well as the English Language B for the IB Diploma. The material will also support students studying for the Cambridge Advanced courses.

We also provide free resources across the full range of levels to provide the tools to communicate in English well.

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