I teach PreK students who are excited about their first time in a “Big Kid” school! My students are between 4-5 years old and have qualified to be in the PreK program at our school. While most of my students are low income, I also have students who have qualified based on foster care status, a military parent and/or ESL.
For many of my students, PreK is their first time in a “Big Kid” (structured) classroom.
They have spent most of their time at home with mom or with another caretaker. Aside from singing the alphabet or watching educational TV, most have had no formal instruction. PreK will pave the way for their success as students in the future, and therefore it is important that I not just teach them the academics needed to succeed, but also give them the social-emotional tools and build their self-esteem so that they can become lifelong learners and love going to school.
This year the Texas legislature will fund full day PreK, which is awesome! I will have 22 students all day, which will give me the time to build their minds and hearts.
Since my students will be in school for a full day, I would like to add more purposeful play centers. Centers occur after whole group instruction where 2-4 students are in small groups that rotate through activities which reinforce the concepts taught during whole group instruction. Purposeful play means that the students look like there are just playing but they are learning at the same time. These are the centers where students love to explore and cannot wait until it's their turn to “play.”
Many of my students come from families that are unable to provide opportunities to play and learn and some students love to come to school because they have such a variety of “toys” in the classroom.
My students desire to play provides me an opportunity to deliver math and literacy concepts in a way that encourages them to focus and retain knowledge. The light table is a great way for my students to "play" and learn using manipulatives. Manipulatives can be used to teach a variety of things, from retelling a story to solving a simple math problem. Students love holding and moving the small items. The use of the light table gives students a space to work with the manipulatives in a way that is new and exciting. While they think they are just playing with lights and toys, my students are actually building the knowledge they need to be successful future kindergarteners.
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