Meetings aren’t just the daily grind of lawyers, consultants and business associates. Four-year olds have meetings in their pre-K classrooms – between three and six of them every day! They can be highly structured, including a greeting, time for sharing experiences and opinions, time for songs and games, even times for personal reflection or a physical activity break. Young children in the Silver classroom learn how to shake a friend’s hand properly or say goodbye respectfully, how to listen to an opposing opinion, how to vote for their impassioned choice. Basically, it’s about living within a community of many feelings and happenings, and managing this experience in a predictable way. It’s about getting work done together, about controlling oneself and, at the same time, having the freedom to speak. They earn the pleasure of being listened to.
As you would expect, discussions ensue about varied topics: how to count or read, how to look at art, how to use the toilet, how to address a treasured friend who will not invite you to their birthday party. Children share heartfelt truths about their families, their vacations or about how they weathered their latest booboo. Anything repetitive becomes progressively more complex or child-centered as the months in pre-K unfold. These are wonderful jobs for 4-year-olds! The teachers model procedures like counting the attendance, enumerating the schedule of the day or the days of the week. After a few weeks, the children begin to take over these jobs, first taking on the verbal aspects, like reporting the lunch menu or reading the day of the week. Later, kids begin filling in a few letters at the beginning or ending of words within the Morning Message while the class watches in rapt attention. Finally, children write in entire words, or attempt to read high-frequency words and phrases like “Good Morning, Silver Rabbits!”
Over the course of the school year, the teachers aim to give the children experiences where they live the realities of the bigger concepts: community life, effective communication, sharing, respect, interdependence – and group pride and fun!