It is our goal during the 4-5 year to give children a firm foundation which will help them become ready to meet the challenges of public/private schools. At the co-op, we strive to create an atmosphere where learning is fun – a natural part of play, and to help the children become capable, confident, responsible, life-long learners.
The 4-5 year is a stage of amazing social and emotional growth as these children are prepared to move on to their next school experience. The Preschool day is now more structured and the school week lengthens to allow for projects that can extend over days. Using center based, hands on experiences, students gain understanding in the areas of literacy, math and science as they explore their environment. The curriculum challenges the students to find answers to their questions rather than “learn” the answer.
A typical day will include:
- Outside Play: Children are quite skilled now in using their large muscles, and love to climb and run. Outside play time is a great way to burn off some energy and get the children ready for a more structured learning environment.
- Greeting / Story Circle: After making your child feel welcome, it is often time for a story. This is also the time for the teacher to discuss the day’s activities, and prepare the group for what to expect that day. Assignments are often allocated, for the children to take home, to be brought back and shared with the class the next day. Most children are now capable of raising their hand and sharing. We concentrate on building vocabulary and social skills as children learn that what they have to share is valuable to the overall classroom community, and develop confidence to stand and discuss their ideas in front of their peers.
- Discovery Time: Free choice snack is offered as part of discovery time, as we teach children to recognize their bodies cues. Projects will be more involved and comprehensive than in previous classes, and parents will take on the ever more vital role as assistant teachers, running experiments, taking dictation, and encouraging children to expand their thought processes. There is also a strong emphasis on building community, learning communication skills, negotiation, and problem solving to get along with other students and adults.
- Clean-up / Running Time: Children are now competent and capable to help clean up the room and prepare for the next activity.
- Music Circle / Goodbyes: During this time of song and movement, following directions will be encouraged, as well as creativity and finding joy in rhythm and sounds. It is also a time to discuss projects and themes that have formed part of the days activities.
Building friendships and learning how to be a friend are the primary interests of 4 & 5 year olds. However, none of us were born knowing how to achieve this valuable life-skill. Being a friend and making friends is a learned behavior; consequently, as children work out ways to deal with their emotions, it is usually during this time that parents hear those often hurtful phrases like, “You can’t come to my birthday party”, or “No girls allowed”. It is common for parents of children in this age group to wonder if their children will ever have friends, or learn how to be a good friend! Children can appear bossy, or to the other extreme, too timid to assert themselves during large cooperative play. Either extreme can be worrisome to parents. As their peers become more important to them, you may notice an increase in silly behavior, and the dreaded “potty talk”.
This is the last Preschool year for creating strong building blocks for their next school experience. Becoming prepared for kindergarten, whether academic or social/emotional, will be a large portion of parent meetings during the year, and children will be assessed at the end of the year for kindergarten readiness. The parent/teacher/parent instructor team will collaborate to foster techniques to encourage capable children, ready for their next educational experience.