Preventing Failure Before It Begins: The Power of Pre-Teaching in Elementary Education

by Ilene Rosenthal, CEO Footsteps2Brilliance

Children do not all start school with the same language and literacy skills. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, 2 out of every 10 children enter kindergarten with skills two to three years lower than their grade level, and another two start school with a one-year disadvantage. When we expect students to absorb new information without a solid foundation, we set them up for failure and the need for reteaching. This vicious cycle of playing catch-up disproportionately affects historically underserved students. Elementary education determines whether students move through their educational journey with enthusiasm or reluctance. To prevent failure before it begins, pre-teaching emerges not just as an alternative teaching method, but as a beacon of transformative change.

What is Pre-teaching?

Pre-teaching is more than an educational strategy; it’s a philosophy that champions proactive learning. By introducing students to key concepts and vocabulary ahead of class, pre-teaching equips them with the foundational knowledge necessary to engage with new material confidently and effectively. This method is an integral part of an asset-based classroom. It harnesses the diverse experiences and backgrounds that students bring to the classroom and provides each child an equal footing on the path to success. 

Since teachers can’t do it all, the transformative power of pre-teaching must extend beyond the classroom. The entire educational ecosystem—after-school programs, volunteers, and parents—must have access to resources and activities that closely align with the classroom’s scope and sequence.

Aligning Supplemental Activities with Classroom Scope and Sequence

The classroom’s scope and sequence provides a roadmap of the curriculum, detailing what concepts will be taught and when. Having access to activities that align with this roadmap means that parents and tutors can prepare students for upcoming lessons as a seamless continuation of their classroom learning.

Alignment ensures that pre-teaching efforts are relevant and contextual. This enables students to step into the classroom ready to engage with the new material. However, since parents are unlikely to have teaching degrees, effective systems must provide aligned materials that have supportive features. Such features should include read-aloud, game-based pedagogy that contains multi-lingual support and is non-threatening to parents as well as their children.

Copy of Zoo animals SQ (1)

The Risks of Misalignment

Without alignment to the classroom’s scope and sequence, pre-teaching efforts can be disjointed and confusing for students. Misalignment can also cause cognitive overload, leaving students frustrated and unprepared for the next day’s lessons.

Ensuring Effective Pre-Teaching

To ensure that pre-teaching is effective, tutors and parents should seek out resources that mirror the classroom’s scope and sequence. This might involve:

Regularly touching base with teachers to understand what’s coming up in the classroom and how at-home activities can complement these lessons.

Utilizing platforms like Footsteps2Brilliance that align their content with the scope and sequence of classroom curricula. Supplemental activities should be in harmony with classroom learning.

Tailoring at-home learning experiences that not only pre-teach upcoming content but also reinforce previous lessons.

By aligning activities with the classroom’s scope and sequence, tutors and parents can turn pre-teaching into a powerful tool for educational success. This approach not only bolsters students’ confidence and readiness to learn, but also ensures that they remain in step with their classroom journey, maximizing their potential for success.

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