Greetings Peacock Families,
I am writing to you today to tell you all about an exciting change that we believe will improve the quality of the preschool experience at Peacock.
First, the things you can count on staying the same. Throughout the Peacock classrooms, our curriculum will continue to be child-driven, meaning that the lessons and activities are planned and adjusted based on the needs of each individual child. Teachers will continue to scaffold lessons, building on observed gains in knowledge and abilities. That attunement between our educators and the children is what makes Peacock a special place for learning.
We believe that these years are important times in every child’s development to lay the groundwork for future successes. As renowned education specialist Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell often says, “When we impact the development of core abilities – every day with every child – we create a community that gives young people authentic advantages to flourish in life.”
Emotional intelligence, physical, and cognitive abilities all have age appropriate paces and milestones. We can see the differences across the preschool (ages 2.5 – 5 years old) in experience, knowledge, and capabilities. We believe that educators can take advantages of these differences by bringing the children together.
When children of various ages are combined in activities, we see the older preschoolers building empathy while guiding their little friends on shared walks. We see little preschoolers studying the coordination of the older students on the playground. We see many of these individual gains during the naturally mixed age group times of the day.
In late August, Peacock will become more intentional about capitalizing on the educational benefits of mixed-age groups. Preschool students, along with the current teaching team, will be reassigned to multi-age classrooms.
In these new classrooms, the added benefits of creating opportunities for children to observe and imitate a wide range of competencies will add significantly to the quality of each child’s experience. This developmentally appropriate approach, incorporated in Waldorf, Montessori, and other successful educational practices, is described well in this article by Linda del Pilar, M.Ed, Why a Multi-age Preschool Class?
At 6pm on July 27th we will be hosting a Parent Information Night here at the Center to answer any questions you may have about the changes scheduled for late August.
Within the coming weeks, each of the preschool families will be receiving a note from Julia regarding their child’s room assignment. Of course, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Julia, you can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions will come up, and we welcome them. For example, “Will the older students be challenged at their level, helping them prepare for kindergarten?” The answer is yes. Lessons and instruction will continue to be based on the individual abilities and needs of each child. School readiness activities will continue to focus on what the Bainbridge Island School District recommends and the goals of WaKIDS Characteristics of Children Entering Kindergarten. In addition our team of teachers will also have the ability to flex the group sizes, drawing together older students able to dive deeper into a subject, or take other students at a slower pace for more foundational work. Our play-based, child-driven approach will help each child reach their full potential at their own pace.
We welcome any one-on-one discussions to explain the reasoning behind the assignments, which will be based on the educational goals for and the needs of each individual child. Assignments may also take into consideration additional factors, such as creating a better opportunity for potty learning. And, of course, keeping friends together will be a priority.
Preschool classrooms will no longer be based on the child’s age. A child will no longer have to leave one classroom for another simply because their birthday came around again. Therefore, these arrangements will potentially give the teachers and children a full school year together.
The Toddler Rooms already function in this capacity, with mixed ages between 12 months and 2.5 years. There are times throughout the day that they are all together, and there are times the older toddlers will go down the hall to another room with their teacher so that both small groups may enjoy activities that focus on their age specific needs. The mixed-age preschool classes will have this fluidity as well.
I hope you are all as excited about this shift in the preschool classrooms as I am. Please know that this change has been a focus of staff conversations and trainings throughout the past few months, as well as Board discussions and feedback.
Thank you for your continued trust in us as we make Peacock an even greater place for your child.
Kathy Haskin, Executive Director
Peacock Family Services