Preschoolers! They are the reason we are in our chosen field!
During this fascinating age of childhood, preschoolers display growth in all areas in leaps and bounds!
At three years old, they are absorbing so much information. Many say they are like sponges!
By 4 years old, they are putting so much of the information they possess into words and actions!
The are growing and learning every day in every way!
Did you know that the average 3 year old knows over 2,500 words and the average 4 year old knows over 3,400*? (1) That is a lot of language acquisition!
*Biemiller, A. (2001). Teaching Vocabulary: Early, direct, and sequential. The American Educator, 25(1), 24-28.
In addition, their motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and social and emotional skills are developing and growing as well!
Your program staff are the front line, so to speak, who will plan activities and maintain an environment to support children’s development.
Their preschool lesson planning must be based on a sound understanding of the ability of preschoolers and typical milestones for each age.
Your role, as a director, is to communicate appropriate expectations to your staff. It is up to you to ensure that a supportive, developmentally appropriate, nurturing environment is available for all the children in your program in which their growth and development is encourage, supported and challenged!
This will require having the administrative information about this age group available. Some of this information may be above and beyond the immediate planning goals or understanding of your staff.
Example: You know it is important to be realistic about the amount of time a child can sit through circle time.
Many times, teachers (in their enthusiasm to "teach" the important skills in a large group) for get (or are not aware) of the limited time children can sit as a group. They will come to you with concerns or complaints about behavior problems at circle time.
Upon observation, you will note that circle time lasted for 42 minutes when it should have been no more than 15 minutes for these three year olds near the end of the year.
You will need some information on hand to review with staff regarding appropriate growth and development for each age group. In this scenario, my article The 6 Dos and Don'ts of Circle Time may be useful to you!
Another Example: You know that 3,4 and 5 year olds are so very capable of doing many self-help tasks on their own and that they should be encouraged to do as many as they can.
However, when visiting a classroom, you notice the staff cleaning up spills, holding tissues while children blow their noses, washing the children's hands for them or putting each child's jacket on for them.
Of course, the teachers are doing this for one or both of these reasons:
1) It's just quicker when you have 16 children!
2) They don't realize or are unsure of how to teach the children these important self-help skills.
You will need information regarding appropriate self-help skills for each age group to review with your staff.
In this section, I will list articles specific to preschoolers that specifically relate to 3, 4 and 5 year old children. Some of the information may already be on this website. Some will be new information that I add. All of the information will help you to develop guidelines for your staff to utilize when planning and working with the children in their care. (Please note, when the information is available, it will be in blue and clickable!).