Applicable to all children, though you can find highlighted the ages where the goals are most prevalent:
Reading, writing, math, and solo craft play :
During this final year, the students are beginning to read, write, and perform basic math problems purely on their own. These behaviors should be cultured and grown within the classroom on a daily basis. Teaching to read and write is a lifelong endeavor and requires the utmost patience and encouragement from teachers and family alike. For Busy Bees, the object is not for students to achieve the knowledge immediately, but for the students to take the educational journey and feel comfortable with the subject at the close of the year. The teacher represents a guide through this new educational landscape and is there to provide all the support the student (and family) might require. Math, similarly, is a subject all students will not totally embrace or understand in the beginning. In our Reggio environment, it’s important to take a holistic approach with computing and numbers in order to reach all learning intelligences. Not only are the students encouraged to write and count, but recognize, group, think critically, and calculate. In this way, each student will be covered by the umbrella and feel competent and confident.
Interpersonal play, social awareness :
At this age, children are learning how to incorporate others in their world and they are looking for guidance from teachers and parents alike about how to treat new people in their lives. At this stage, school is the epicenter of where most of their social interactions take place, so it is very important for our teachers to help them understand as much as possible about working with others and being respectful of those around them. The children of Busy Bees are taught to consider and respect every person in their lives, beginning with friends and family and expanding to the people who enter their lives at school and other, outside environments. Not all interactions are positive for young learners, of course, and misunderstandings are common place in a budding environment. Teachers always have an open ear to the problems of their students, but also encourage the children to solve arguments amongst each other. This technique allows them to feel safe and accounted for, while introducing a special empowerment and independence knowing they can find solutions from within themselves.
Understanding why/how it works :
As children reach a certain developmental age, the question permeating their lives is “Why?” They want to know why it works or does not work, why a behavior is acceptable or unacceptable, why the world provides us with certain things and not others. During the fast-paced routine of a preschool, these wonderments of childhood can ultimately be lost and discounted, but for us they are some of the most important foundations of the school. The teachers encourage open thought and creative perspectives, every moment of the day is open to interpretation and the students and constantly asked their opinion and interpretation during the education process. This technique not only creates an environment of exploration which spreads across the school, but allows children to feel more relaxed in the satisfaction of having their most important curiosities answered.
Emotional stability :
At this in-between stage, the students are still having trouble coping with the transition into the mature setting of a classroom. Complications at morning drop off can be many and intense. Consequently, teachers make it their first mission to welcome every student into the school as comprehensively as possible. For those who are particularly hesitant and fearful, individual plans are created in conjunction with parents to resolve the issue over time. At Busy Bees, we know the burden parents must bear in saying goodbye each day to the most important people in their lives, and view a child’s comfort in the school as the ultimate goal to be achieved. Our school provides a comprehensive adaptation period for new arrivals where both the child and parents are welcomed into the Busy Bees community with ease. Similarly, each morning is a smaller transitioning period for all of the children in the school where they can enter the school without stress or expectations, just to play with their friends and gradually acclimate to the school day.
Expansion of Focus on complex tasks :
There is less of a focus on spontaneous play and more concern with a focused tasks at this stage and students might not be accustomed to this change at the onset of September. The aim for the entire school year is therefore to create a class of students from what may have been primarily a set of individual children. Teachers constantly engage the children with new and interesting approaches to the curriculum and subject matter of the week, making the material so inviting and enticing that it is impossible for them not to participate. Traditional dictation techniques are traded for a more inclusive, team strategy as the entire school becomes the educator and students often find themselves in the role of teacher. It’s also very important for our school that the children take pride and care in their classroom and space, and they are welcomed and taught how to not only focus on expected educational activities but also organization of the room and materials. In this facet, children become students and usually gain a priceless sense of self.
Skills leading up to reading, writing, math, and solo craft play :
Pre-reading, pre-writing, and pre-mathematics are all subjects children are beginning to naturally explore by this age. For us, it is important for the teacher to guide students through this journey by highlighting those points which interest the students most, therefore displaying an imaginative and interesting landscape from which to learn. The class will be introduced to the alphabet by way of letter shapes, sounds, and representations. Math will become present in every aspect using counting, grouping, and manipulation during most daily tasks. Throughout the year, the children will become so accustomed to these daily uses of usually complex subject matter that they will have learned the basic building blocks of education without using force or the confines of the traditional classroom.
At this age the most important goal for children is just learning how to accomplish tasks. From dressing themselves to creating a picture, they might have attempted it before! Our school takes a two point approach to this learning period: 1. Always be available to students who need help and encouragement with any task and 2. Always be teaching while you are helping. Using this method, the teacher may assist a student with putting on his or her shoes during the initial weeks or even months of school, all the while demonstrating how the process looks and how any individual (not just an adult) can accomplish the task. The best and most valuable gift we can give these young learners is to teach them how to “do it” for themselves. The goal is of course long term and no child is pressure or made to feel incompetent. As some students reveal themselves to be accomplished kinesthetic learners, they may even feel inspired to assist their classmates and the “team” environment of the class is strengthened all the more.
Now is the stage when children are learning to rely on themselves much more and create their own identities separate from adults. Of course our school provides as much comfort and care as necessary for every single child, but in order to allow the children to embrace this new identity and personality, teachers refrain from suffocating the children in moments of distress. If there is an upset in the classroom, our focus is on resolving the problem via the inclusion of the children. A social mediation might take place where all involved in an incident are asked to come to the teacher an explain their emotions and involvement. For those students who are the most affected, soothing and reconciliation coming from their peers is much more valuable than from an adult occupying a space, unequal standing in the incident. Using this method, the children learn conflict/resolution and basic mediation and expression skills at an early age and learn to cope with social stress much more efficiently.
In relation to autonomy, children should always be reminded that their possessions and even classrooms belong to them and their classmates! At Busy Bees we instill a sense of responsibility and encourage children to care for everything in their environment directly. If a teacher notices their faces are dirty, the child is first asked to try cleaning themself. If the toys of the classroom are disorganized, the students are instructed on classroom care and asked, in their opinion, the best way organize them. This is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks of childhood, but also a key developmental stage as it fosters self-confidence and inner strength in children and people in general.
Skills leading up to speech, coloring, group crafting :
Students should be partaking in all of these subjects on a daily basis. For many of the children, the early years of preschool are their first introductions to such activities and so the pace is always tranquil and patient. Teachers understand the term “goal” means the vision for the accomplishments at the close of the school year and feel confident in knowing the entire year is for practice, trial, and error. Our preschool provides a safe space for children to test their growing skills and be encouraged in emerging talents. Every student has special abilities which they can share and enhance the environment with.