Children in the Preschool 4’s Room are ready for more structure in their daily schedule and more complexity in their play and exploration. Emphasis is placed on increased expectations for independence in personal and social skills, as well as more challenging cognitive, physical and creative experiences. Activities are organized so that children work together on many projects in teams, requiring children to plan, create, negotiate and share ideas. We offer children problems to solve rather than rote memorization. Academic content areas such as literacty, math and science are integrated in daily activities.
Family and Staff Communication: There is still a lot of communication between teachers and parents, and our staff have several ways in which to relay important information. These include records of naps and a chart with activities of the day, a memo board, email and most importantly direct conversation.
Classroom Environment: The classroom is organized with a range of activity area/learning centers designed to provide opportunities for children to explore independently, construct, create and explore in small groups, play cooperatively, have large group meetings and still have some individual time with their teachers and peers. Interest areas include large block and dramatic play areas, a reading/quiet area, areas for art activities, sensory exploration and a broad selection of manipulatives such as puzzles, interlocking materials and shape and patterning materials. At this age children begin to stay focused on one activity for long periods of time and often build on activities from one day to the next. The environment is adapted in response to the emerging skills of children throughout the year.
Classroom Routine: The Preschool 4’s Program has a predictable sequence of activities each day. This allows children to know what to expect as the day progresses. Though the activities we provide change daily in response to emerging skills and interest, open-ended materials and uninterrupted time leads to many opportunities to use the same materials in more complex ways.
Self-help Skills: Children remove their shoes prior to nap and typically put their shoes back on after nap independently. Independence in self-help skills is also reinforced as children get their own items for their cot before nap and put them away afterwards, put their lunch boxes away after meals and learn to zipper their own jackets. We also encourage children to seek help from their peers to decrease their reliance on teachers over time.
Typical Daily Schedule
Classroom Activities: Examples include stacking, sorting and manipulating various objects such as blocks, puzzles and shapes; experiences with various art media such as drawing, painting, gluing and printing; singing and dancing; sensory explorations such as water, sand and play doh; climbing, running and riding; reading books; dramatic play; outdoor walks and explorations. As the year progresses, children typically recognize and represent using recognizable shapes, figures, letters and numbers. Children are encouraged to label their buildings, write notes and discover other ways to represent their understandings as they are ready. Dramatic play takes on increased significance as children develop more elaborate characterizations and they experiment with different roles beyond those they experience in their lives.
Socialization:Four and five year olds are ready to negotiate and solve problems with limited adult assistance. Children are encouraged to try to resolve minor conflicts independently and seek adult assistance for more complex social situations. Teachers maintain close supervision and help children talk through the problems that arise with their peers. They are encouraged to take the perspective of others, reliably control their impulses and wait for a turn and work out a plan with their peers to negotiate a turn for themselves. Our teachers take advantage of opportunities presented to help children develop the tools to work out conflicts that arise. Their teachers remain close by to supervise and facilitate their interactions.
Dramatic play becomes increasingly complex in the Preschool 4’s Room. Children work in teams with teacher facilitation to decide what and how they want to construct. Examples of dramatic play constructions include a grocery store, restaurant, doctor’s office, book store, space ship, theater, etc. They also accessorize the area with various props and labels they create. The area remains as they construct it for 2-3 weeks and encourages exploration, abstract thinking and complex symbolic play.
Blocks are an extremely important part of our curriculum. The children work together on buildings which they often save for two or more days. The children feel a great sense of ownership for their buildings. Photographs of various building styles are posted in the block area to provide inspiration for the children’s constructions.
News of the Day: The first meeting time of the day consists of “News of the Day”. During free play in the morning, if children wish to share their news, they ask a teacher or parent for help. After the teacher or parent draws a box for the child’s name in our news book (right under the last news), the child is asked to write his/her own name. (We don’t worry about trying to “fix it” if they use inventive lettering or scribbles, we will figure it out.) After their name has been written, the teacher or parent writes the child’s news (Exactly as it is dictated…grammatical errors and all!). Although embellishment of details is acceptable, we try to keep the news items to “real” events. During our meeting time, the children may choose to read their news to the children, or have a teacher read it for them. This is an excellent opportunity for early literacy and writing skills as well as social interaction and language skills and also provides an important home-school connection.
Technology is embedded within the classroom routines. Computers are a choice during free play as well as one of the activities during small group time. In addition, there is an interactive white board that the children can also use during choice time. The technology is also used extensively to share information with families or from the internet. The children in the Preschool 4’s Class have their own email address and families send and receive email that are reviewed during the morning meeting. They will also “Skype” with parents who are traveling and with the rest of the group when one is away on vacation.