Our 4’s are crossing that great bridge between their first tentative experience away from home and the self-confident autonomy of going off to kindergarten. For the most part, their 3-year-old skills are solidly established and are now being refined: they move quickly & gracefully; they assimilate new rules and routines easily; they ask peers to play & are willing to negotiate to keep the play going. They’re fully acclimated to the school environment and no longer need the comforting secure routines found in the 3 year old rooms. Fours enjoy novelty and big opportunities to explore on their own terms. Their thinking and motor skills are better so they get more satisfaction from doing puzzles, playing games, and experimenting with learning materials. They are quick to help, or talk, or change what they’re doing at a moment’s notice. And they have become joyfully self-aware: they now know that they know things. The world is a wonderfully exciting place for a four year old! So we tailor our schedule and curriculum to fit their emerging self-awareness and their tremendous curiosity about the world around them.
A typical day for our 4’s begins with Free Play, as it does for the 3’s. Teachers set up the room with challenging materials for children to explore individually and together. Teachers facilitate play and cognitive/perceptual development by unobtrusively interacting with the children in the various learning centers. Their goal is the development of language skills, social awareness of peers, creativity, cognition, and pre-academic skills–always with the objective of meeting or exceeding the skills outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
When Free Play is over around 9:45, the 4’s are ready to move into the more intense portion of their morning. After they clean up their toys (quickly– because that’s how 4’s do things), they have their first Circle to talk about the theme in depth, introduce the project for the day, and talk about the letter of the week. Then, they split into 2 groups: one group stays in the room to do the project and the other group goes to the Big Room, where they meet up with other 4’s who might have been their buddies when they were together in a 3 year old class. When the classroom group is finished with the project, they go to the Big Room and the other group returns to the classroom for project.
Our 4’s take a trip to the bathroom & wash hands before they go out to the playground in mid-morning. This age group can dress & undress themselves more quickly than our 3’s, so they get to use the playground in the middle of our school day. After the playground, they’re ready to refuel with a snack and some quiet reading time.
The morning ends with a last meeting time that includes a story, calendar, job chart, and sharing time (called “show & tell” by some schools), songs, finger plays, and sometimes a group game. 4’s have a pretty good attention span, so they usually love the routine of their last circle and the opportunity to contribute to a large group discussion.
By year’s end, our 4’s are really ready to shine in kindergarten because they’ve experienced predictable routines and challenging experiences in a safe and developmentally nurturing environment.
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