What shall we learn?

The early childhood department of my school district has, in the last few years, worked hard to come up with end-of-the-year goals that are based on our state standards, and are supported by our assessments, , portfolios, report cards, and parent conference goal-setting forms.  Everything all works together.  They wrote up a list of goals on a single sheet, to share with parents, but I decided to enlarge them and share them with the kids.

The signs I made are posted above our meeting area board, and it’s at about this point in the year that I point them out to the children, read the goals aloud, and start referring to them daily as we work and play.  I started doing this a few years ago, while training to be a teacher coach.  I learned that accountability for students is just as important as accountability for adults, and wondered how that would translate to preschool.

I already listed the things we were learning about on our morning message, but decided to be more deliberate in telling the children what we were doing and why.  When I do a repeated interactive read-aloud, or reader’s workshop, the children learn that there is a purpose:  to love books and become great readers.  The list of goals tells the children what they should know to get ready for kindergarten.  “This is our job,” I say, and the children nod, serious and proud.

We’re still fingerpainting, playing house, and messing with shaving cream.  But we all have a shared purpose, and I think it brings us closer and takes us farther.

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2 thoughts on “What shall we learn?

  1. You might be interested to see how this compares to the UK goals for Pre-K (Reception/F2 – full time for a year or 2/3 of a year, usually, depending on age).

    http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/downloader/c5ec8c921e124ca17e308c0af1c5abad.pdf

    The expectation is that children should achieve Points 1-8 on each scale before starting Kindergarten (Year 1). Point 9 is for children working above expectations. The points are in order of difficulty, roughly.

    I understand that the goals you have posted are simplified for the children, but just to compare:

    - Writing name from memory: point 4
    - Listening and responding to a story: point 4
    - Knowing the alphabet and letter sounds: point 4
    - Rhyming: point 2
    - Knowing parts of the body: think this would be point 5
    - Shapes: point 6
    - Colour: there isn’t a specific point for this.

    (It’s interesting that there is no goal on your list for number.)

    So a child achieving at the level of your goals would be considered significantly below the expected standard in the UK, working at about point 4-5.

    In my experience teaching children in Year 1 (K) in a relatively deprived area but with only native English speakers, the majority have not met these standards in F2. I have had several children only at point 0 or 1 on each scale, with no identified special needs, and most seem to hover between about 4 and 6, which matches up fairly well with the standard expected from your pupils.

    But obviously there’s nothing wrong with governmental expectations for these young children – it’s just poor teaching, otherwise they’d all be reaching points 8 and 9…

  2. I just checked my actual data from my last K class.

    Not one child reached the expected 32 points for Communication, Language, and Literacy.
    One child (gifted) reached 24 points for Problem-Solving, Reasoning & Numeracy.
    Not one child reached the expected 8 points for Knowledge & Understanding of the World.

    This isn’t to do with my teaching, by the way, this was from before I had them.

    Obviously highly realistic expectations for the majority of children.

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