Two days a week, I teach 3 preschool classes. My two day time classes are full of 3 year olds. My evening class is all 4 year olds. In the past, I have also taught both 3 and 4 year old classes, but I don’t remember there being such a huge difference in their abilities, especially this early in the year!
Three Year Old Classes
The three year olds love to play, sing, dance, etc. Everything needs to be slowed down a bit, and repetition is key. Group times need to be short, and mostly all active. Our classes start with play time, to help them ease into the day. Yesterday, we painted for the first time. Per our art curriculum, we started with just one color,blue. In all three classes, the children could not wait to paint! The 3 year olds mostly just painted all over the paper, rushing through to do their turn. They loved it, but most didn’t put a lot of effort into it. We were through 17 kids in about 1/2 hour, with 4 at a time taking their turn.
Four Year Old Classes
The four year olds also love to play, sing, and dance. I could put on a new song every night, and they would likely try it. We can go at a faster pace, and sit for longer periods of time. We can have more in depth conversations about different topics, and we do some charting (eye colors, family members, etc.). Almost all the children came into the class knowing how to write their names, count higher than 10, etc. We start our class with group time, since they are more able to wait for everyone to get there. When the 4 year olds sat down to paint, they REALLY took their time. Some children were painting their families, some their names, some just covered the whole paper, but seemed more methodic about it. After almost 45 minutes of free-choice, there were still several children who had not been able to paint yet. I added a 5th painting station to help them all get a chance! Even then, we ended up starting snack late, because it took over an hour to get through all 19 children in the class.
For some reason, even after working in Early Childhood for over 12 years, I am still amazed by children. The things they get excited about, the things they can do, and the differences that even a year can make in their development.