Curriculum for 3 year-olds should emphasize language, activity and movement, with major emphasis on large muscle activities.
Four year-olds enjoy a greater variety of experiences and more small motor skills like cooking, doing art, using manipulative and scissors. They are more able to concentrate and remember as well as recognize objects by shape, color or size. Four year-olds are developing basic math concepts and problem solving skills.
Some of the four year-olds and most five year-olds combine ideas into more complex relations i.e., number concepts such as one to one correspondence. Most five’s display a growing interest in the functional aspects of written language, such as recognizing meaningful words and trying to write their own names. Activities designed solely to teach the alphabet, phonics and penmanship are much less appropriate for this age group than providing a print rich environment that stimulates the development of language and literacy skills in meaningful context.
Curriculum for four’s and five’s can expand beyond the child’s immediate experiences of self, home and family to include special events and trips. Five year-olds are developing interest in community and the world outside their own. They also use motor skills well, even daringly, and show increasing ability to pay attention for longer times and in large groups, if the topic is meaningful for them.
Six year olds have a greater sense of the world around them. Their gross and fine motor development increases greatly. Physical coordination improves, and this along with increased cognitive development allows kindergarten-aged children to understand outside games and their rules. Fine motor skills are also increasing during this stage which help with writing and drawing skills. A child’s reasoning and logic skills are increasing along with short-term memory. Moral development is another area that increases in kindergarten-aged children. They are more able to understand “right” and “wrong” and they become more concerned with the feelings of others.
Significance of 3-4-5-6 year-old stage:
The most important area is for adults to promote preschooler’s self-esteem. In every area of his development: physical, cognitive, psychosocial, the child strives and looks for adult support. Children need periodic adult reinforcement in the form of one-on-one time, a hug, smile or touch.
Preschoolers have a greater capacity than younger children for learning and abiding by simple rules and clear consequences.
They enjoy playing with peers. The beginning of cooperative play and sharing develops. Conflicts can begin to be addressed with simple problem solving techniques.
Preschoolers develop in many areas and independence is promoted by providing choices in a wide range of activities for this age group.
- To build self-confidence and a sense of self worth, by allowing choices within limits and to build on successful experiences
- To promote and instill a sense of caring for, and sensitivity towards others
- To provide a nurturing, relaxed and non-sexist environment with caring adults where self-esteem is enhanced; independence encouraged; free choice decisions offered; social skills acquired; and individuality respected
- To provide large portions of time where the child can be alone or with friends participating in a range of different and satisfying activities. The activities will be planned for the following curriculum areas: art, science, history, geography, wood working, cooking, music and movement, practical life, dramatic play, language arts, and mathematics.
- To provide children with opportunities to gain competence in a variety of skills and techniques that increase their interest and control over their environment
- To provide for each child’s physical well being while in our care
- To provide opportunities to develop gross motor skills and coordination through physically active play
- To develop in the child an active curiosity about the world in which he/she lives, and an enthusiasm for learning which stimulates exploratory behavior and creativity
- To help the child gain self-discipline in an environment where he/she knows the limits and expectations
- To develop in each child an appreciation for beauty and nature
- To provide an atmosphere in the classroom which promotes respect for self, others, and materials
To provide a wide variety of activities within a routine where cooperative play/work is encouraged and multiple skills are developed. Through these activities, children are learning to trust their own desires/decisions about what they will learn, hear, see and do and to begin sharing these experiences with others.
Many times when parents observe or visit preschools/child care centers, they think that children are “just playing”. However, the way children learn best is through play. Robert Fulghum states, “Learning is taking place at all times in all circumstances for every person.” Maria Montessori used the word work instead of the word play. She said that “work” has a higher respect than “play”. Montessori taught that what looks like play to an adult, is truly work for a child. She taught that work is any activity, which involves the whole child, and that work has as its unconscious aim the construction of the personality. As children are going around the room, playing/working with the different centers/materials, they may acquire some of the skills that are fostered by exploring the different learning areas.
Language Arts Center promotes
- Vocabulary growth
- Listening skills
- Reading readiness skills
- Oral language skills
- Interest in and respect for books
- Appreciation of good literature
- Increased attention span
Outdoor Play Area
- Develops large muscle coordination
- Increases social development and communication skills
- Provides opportunities for sharing
- Provides opportunities for roll playing
- Fosters safety awareness
Math Centers help a child
- Recognize numbers, counting items
- Understand the relationship between a numeral and a set of objects
- Learn that counting is both meaningful and fun
- Understand such terms as big/little, more/less, etc
- Recognize and name basic geometric shapes
- Become aware of and begin to appreciate the practical uses of numbers seen around him/her every day, e.g. clocks, calendars, money, etc.
Practical Life Areas
- Encourage the children to do tasks on their own
- Promote eye hand coordination, patience, waiting turns, etc.
- Give opportunities for hand washing, practicing proper meal
- Help children explore zipping, snapping, buckling, scooping and pouring, sorting, wiping tables, using materials properly
- Provide opportunities for pouring milk, juice, cereal; setting tables, preparing food, taste and smell comparisons, sharing
- Provide opportunities for creativity and imagination
- Develop small and large muscle skills
- Develop color concepts
- Provide a release for positive and negative feelings
- Develop reading readiness skills
- Develop prewriting skills
- Encourage an appreciation for the arts
- Develop small muscle coordination
- Increase social development and communication skills
- Foster imagination
- Teach mathematical concepts (shapes, size, counting)
- Provide opportunities for problem solving
Dramatic Play Areas
- Provide an opportunity to role play home/life experiences
- Increase social development and communication skills
- Develop small and large muscle coordination
- Develop self awareness
- Develop visual discrimination skills
- Provides practice with social skills
- Develops gross and fine motor skills
- Teaches mathematical concepts (shape, size, balance, counting)
- Increases creativity and decision making skills
- Develops visual discrimination skills
- Provides an opportunity for role play
- Increases communication skills and oral vocabulary
Reading Readiness Centers
- Develop and improve listening skills
- Provide opportunities for following directions
- Teach the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, as children become interested
- Help a child notice likeness and differences
- Develop the skill of sequencing
- Develop the skill of matching
- Provide quiet areas and the opportunity for a child to:
Learn to relax
Learn to appreciate and enjoy good books
Learn to enjoy being alone
- Develop an awareness of and respect for the natural environment
- Develop observation and discrimination skills
- Encourage a child’s curiosity
- Encourage sorting and classifying skills on the basis of size, shape and texture
- Develop an awareness of their bodies
Music and Movement
- Develops listening skills
- Encourages children to learn musical tunes which they can sing and words which they can repeat
- Helps a child learn to control motor impulses
- Promotes enjoyment and appreciation for music
- Expresses freedom of movement and awareness of the body and space
- Provides exploration and familiarity with different musical instruments