My daughter has just finished up her first year of pre-school, two days a week, three hours a day. When I think back to a year ago, we had just signed her up and still had the rude awakening of “Back to School Night” waiting for us in late August. It was only a rude awakening in that she was 3, and if I had ever imagined the beginning of school, it was around 5 years old in my mind. Since she attends a public pre-K, it has a very “school” feel to it, and it is startling to find yourself orienting a child to school so soon! She was just a baby what seemed like a few minutes before that.
And wow, what an impact six hours a weeks of school has had. Much credit has to go to her teacher, who in the classroom orientation for parents explained that all kids were writers and the kids would learn to write. No doubt that expectation that all kids would perform has driven the success of the year.
There has also been an intentional cultivation of reading appreciation. Not only do they read, they talk about authors and illustrators and deconstruct stories.
Of course, without really unpacking my expectations going into it, the school is decidedly low-tech, which is what you want for pre-K. At the same time, the technology uses are subtle. For example, circle time is accompanied by an ipod playlist. (I’m quite sure the teachers’ own devices).
And by far, the most amazing technology use has been the teachers’ use of email. Every single day we have gotten a summary of the key activities of the day: What letter has been emphasized. What stories they have read. What activities they did as a class. These are also tailored to specifics of the class itself, for example, if they had a “sound bag” day (kids find an object that starts with the letter of the day), the teacher lists the objects that they explored together. While email is a simple and ubiquitous tool, this strategic use of email takes a lot of commitment and effort and has made it very easy to integrate conversations at home with topics that arise at school.
- Future of K-20 Education – NEASC
- Mindmapping the Needs Assessment