Penguins & Starfish
During the 3- to 4-year-old year a vast amount of development takes place. The year starts off slowly to allow the little ones to adjust to their new school. The first term is spent settling the children, and making them feel loved and secure in their new school environment. A lot of free play takes place, during which the children will form friendships and learn through exploration.
Emphasis is placed on their EQ (emotional intelligence) development. We spend time teaching the little ones how to play with friends, how to share, the importance of kindness, and how to use language to solve problems. Building self-confidence and creating a positive self-image is the next crucial step.
Structure and routine are vital for the Starfish and Penguins, and each day follows the same format. We start with a morning ring, followed by art and creative play. After snack time, the children play in the big garden, and they finish the day back inside for construction and quiet play. Each day concludes with storytime.
Every conversation – whether chatting to friends or listening to a teacher – helps the little ones develop their language skills. Stories teach them new vocabulary, rhyming words, and sentence structure. Constantiaberg Pre-Primary is a school full of games and equipment that make language development fun and stimulating. The children love singing new songs each morning, which further develops their language.
Mathematical concepts are taught at ring time, and our focus is to build a strong concrete understanding of numbers. The Starfish and Penguins work with geometric shapes such as triangles, squares, circles and rectangles. They learn how to construct simple patterns through block construction and threading activities. Simple graphs are introduced when conducting a class census on favorite pets or foods. We play many sorting games using various materials, and puzzles are always available in the classroom.
Fine motor activities are a vital part of our school day. Our structured art activities allow the children to work with crayons, chalk, paintbrushes, glue, and kokis. A lot of tearing and cutting activities take place, allowing the children to develop strength in their hands and fingers. We also encourage free art activities to stimulate creativity.
Strong bodies are very important for formal learning. We work on the little ones’ core strength to enable them to sit and work for longer periods of time as they get older. Morning rings are always very active, with a lot of movement, and our outside days allow for plenty of physical exercise. The children also delight in participating in our Fit Kids programme on a Tuesday morning.
The 3- to 4-year olds are the best scientists, because they ae constantly exploring. Natural materials fascinate them. Our nature and sensory tables provide continuous stimulation for these enquiring minds.
Turtles & Dolphins
Most of the learners have spent a year at the school and have settled, gained confidence and knowledge about the school, staff and routines. This second year is an exciting, consolidating year where the children continue to grow and learn in a happy, stimulating and comfortable environment. The focus on learning is predominantly through free and structured play. Children develop holistically, using all their senses, physical skills, mental capacity, social skills and emotions through play.
We encourage independence. Learners should be carrying their own bags to school, packing away toys, being responsible for their own belongings and materials at school. Learners are encouraged to verbalize their feelings and problem solve with the guidance of their teachers.
Fine motor skills are developed through activities such as through art, clay, playdough, painting, sticking, folding tearing etc. Sensory, sand and “messy” play is also encouraged. Inside play includes fantasy, blocks, puzzles, drawing and games.
It is important for learners to have strong core and shoulder girdle strength as this enables them to sit upright at a desk and on the mat, and helps with focus and listening. Gross motor skills are developed on outdoor apparatus – climbing, balancing, monkey bars and swinging. Fit Kids plays a significant role in core and shoulder girdle development. We also develop the child’s ability to control their body movements, midline crossing and balance through brain gym and various ring time activities in the classroom.
Language is developed through more formal ring time, theme discussion, through games and music as well as roleplay, stories and fantasy play. We develop specific skills like rhyming, syllables, vocabulary and expressive skills. We have a specialist “Listening and Language” skill lesson once a week to help develop these skills. A big focus for this year is developing their active listening skills. The children learn to write their name and start recognizing letters and sounds. We introduce Letterland as an informal story around the alphabet.
Numeracy skills are taught incidentally through games and songs and more formally through small group teaching. We focus on creating a solid foundation of mathematics by teaching them the meaning and value of numbers. Some of the things we cover are more and less / before and after / counting forwards and backwards / data handing / patterns / classification and sorting / shapes / story sums and number recognition. We also introduce number formation informally later in the year. Learners are able to count to at least 20 and recognize and understand value of numbers to 10 by the end of the year.
Grade R is a pivotal time in the development of learners during the pre-school years. It is considered part of the Foundation Phase although is still not officially compulsory. It is the year in which school readiness is generally determined and concepts needed for Grade 1 are learnt, reinforced and consolidated. Each child is completely different with different talents and different challenges. It is our job to help make sure they are well balanced and happy individuals with all the tools they need to go to big school, along with the sound academic foundation needed to be successful in a Grade 1 class.
The way in which we teach and learn in Grade R is made up of three main areas. These areas are covered in a fun, play –based and incidental way without a heavy emphasis on formal instruction. The three main areas are Language, Numeracy and Life Skills.
Language in Grade R consists primarily of concepts needed in order for the children to learn to read and write. These include phonics, expressive language, listening skills, visual perception, auditory perception, emergent writing (fine motor skills). We cover these areas by doing art, playing games, singing, class discussions and language rings, drama, show and tell, week-end news, working in our phonics books, reading stories and asking questions, sequencing events and stories and just generally having fun!
Numeracy in Grade R consists of consolidating and further developing the concepts already learned in previous years such as number concepts, number recognition, counting, patterns, space and shape, measurement and data handling. Critical thinking skills are developed, and children are encouraged to think ‘out the box’. We often work in smaller groups with the children to give them more one on one attention. We also have an interactive white board on which we play lots of maths games.
Life Skills in Grade R is an area where a lot of attention is paid to the emotional and social development of the children. It is important that your child can handle and respond appropriately to situations not only with their peers but their teachers alike. That they are able to concentrate when required to and listen effectively to instructions given; that they show empathy and concern for their peers; that they can work and participate in group situations, that they show perseverance during challenging tasks and that they can show self-control when needed.
Fine Motor and Gross motor skills are also covered in this area. It is important that children the develop stamina needed for the more formal class setting. They need to be able to sit on a chair at their table and on the mat without slouching and falling over, they should be able to skip, hop, run, balance, crawl and cross their mid-lines (important for reading and writing). They should be able to throw and catch a ball (hand eye co-ordination). Participating in group physical activities helps develop their confidence. Healthy body = healthy mind.
In saying all the above, we absolutely do not advocate or agree that every child needs to be at the same level by the end of Grade R. So much happens at this age and some areas develop quicker than others.