My preschool observation was completed at Chula Vista Presbyterian Preschool located at 940 Hilltop Drive, Chula Vista, Ca 91911. The classroom consisted of eight children between the ages of three and five. When I walked into the preschool classroom the children had just arrive at school. The student we’re hanging up their bags, saying goodbye to their parent and finding activity to play with before the day would officially begin. Some of the children we’re putting puzzles together, cutting fun shapes on the small table for Halloween and two cute little girls are playing bubbles in a tub near the cubbies with a rug underneath. The classroom environment seemed to stimulate learning due to the abundance of activities available to the children’s. During the morning playtime the children were given the opportunity to explore many different things, like the Dramatic play area – grocery set up, the Art area where children can paint, draw and colors, and putting puzzles together. The physical classroom environment had artwork done by the children on the walls as decoration.
There were also fence with pumpkin and scarecrow decoration on the wall to brighten up the wall. The decoration did not appear to be too distracting, which promotes and enables a stimulating learning environment. The classroom is pretty much large that we’re arrange in sectional areas; next to the cubbies is the Reading corner, the area is carpeted where 6 small pillows, two small rocking chair and one regular chair are arranged facing a chair for teaching. There is a book stand where children can pick books. The Math area consist of pictures numbers and puzzle games and shapes. There is also the Letter corner where pictures and corresponding letter shows. Dramatic play which is set up as grocery where boxes of cereals’, eggs, canned good items were on display. There is also a cash register and shopping baskets available. The Children’s corner shows pictures and name of students, calendars, schedules and announcement and also the star student. All tables and chairs have the size fit to small children, shelves was arranged to separate sectional areas from the other.
There is a long table by the cubbies that served as dining table for the children. Half of the ceiling has some colorful little pumpkin decoration. The bathroom is located to the other classroom adjacent to the room I observed. there is a small paper towel dispenser and trash can near the cubbies. The teacher kept to herself for the most part while the children busy playing at the beginning of the day. Because of the small class size she was able to see what everyone was doing without walking around the room. The assistant teacher is on the table helping two children glued the scare crow on the big paper for decoration. There were no disciplinary action needed because the children were well behaved except for occasional reminders of the use of classroom voice when the kids got too excited singing along with the music being played.
After forty five minutes of children’s own playtime, the teacher rang the bill for circle time. But before that, she asks all the children to clean up and keep an eye for everybody if they do their task. I noticed that all children we’re doing their part, even if they don’t play on the grocery area they put away all the scattered items, which makes me believe that the teachers values the space she is given and wants her students to know that cleaning up toys and other activities when they are done playing is important. During the circle time, children we’re sitting crisscross on a carpeted section, the teacher start singing a happy song where the children sing too when the teacher mentioned the name of the child the child will stand and dance. It’s like doing the attendance in a fun way where all children participated.
After the song, teacher and children’s prayed together. They say thanks for that day being together with friends and teachers, for their parents and ask for safety. After that, the children were ushered to the next room we’re bathrooms are located. The teachers help the children potty and wash their hands before they go the table for snacks. A long table for eight was on the middle of the classroom, the assistant teacher prepares gold fish, 3 carrot sticks and raisins for their snacks. She also put a juice in a small plastic container with a handle where the kids pour their juice by themselves. The teachers is watching closely and reminding the children to pour half only and save some for their friends, I think they are instilling the values of sharing. After the snacks, the children throw their napkins and push their chair back to the table and goes straight to the Math area. The children were sitting crisscrossed again facing a small blackboard; the teacher is sitting on the right side.
They were learning the letter “F” and each student were asked what word starts with letter “F”. All the children, answered correctly although some of them was helped by their classmates, which was reprimanded by the teacher and tell them to give other the chance to think and give their answers. When they were done sounding the words they were given a cut out frog paper with a numbers on it and was told that when they hear their number they will jump on the pond (middle) and leave the frog. The children start singing the speckles frog song and each child jumps in the pond when their number was called. It was so much fun watching them and I was thinking that they are committed to provide a play-based, developmentally appropriate program that guides each child through the process of learning self-regulation. When the song ended, children were lined up and ask to put their bumper up to get ready to play in the playground.
They went out the same door to get in; playground is located on the opposite side of the building. The children walked on the lined pathway. Before they cross the street, the teacher points to both sides of the street and ask if it safe to cross. When children look at both side and saw no cars coming they unanimously answered “yes”. The playground is consist of big slides, a tire swing, small basketball area, a monkey bars, a small play house, the table bucket on the sand area where children can play water on it. There is a carpeted shaded area too where children can read books, or play some puzzles or board games. There is also table with some art crafts. Shelves full of toys were aligned with the shoe box. I saw a medicine cabinet too on the far right side of the shelves. I stayed on the chair by the medicine cabinet; this would not attract children attentions or block their way. Both the teacher and assistant teacher were outside to watch the kids, making sure they don’t hurt themselves or hurt each other. They constantly reminding and approaching the children when they see inappropriate used of toys and equipment’s.
The children who were playing too rough were ask to stop if not they will ask to find different games to play. The teacher also participates in playing pretend on the big slides as their pirate ship and some kids play the role of pirate and captain of the ship. The preschool provides a Christian atmosphere that promotes the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of each child. This evidence by the colorful posters outside the building that says: “Faith is Journey” “God lead Us Forth” “God’s Presence is our Destination”. As you enter the classroom, there is a signing sheet not only for students but for everybody coming in and out the classroom. The staff and teachers are very friendly; as I approached them they were smiling and say “Hi! Can I help you?” When I introduced myself and told them the reason why I was there, they ask me how they can be of help to make my observation easier and productive. They also show me where I can sit and observed not too distant where I still hear children talks and not too close to attract their attention. I feel that there is a good relationship too between the parents and staff because they are happily talking the child’s progress and how they are doing even the silliest thing the child did at home.
The school is not gated but I sensed some security because the classrooms are located behind the church. Most of the students are Hispanic, Asian, African-American and Caucasian children. Both the teacher and the assistant teacher is Hispanic and the Director is Caucasian. I would say this preschool is very diverse and children learn how to respect, help and play with each other regardless of race, color and gender. According to Mrs. Brown, they have 12 regular children on this age range, but 2 children were sick that day and 2 was on vacation. The teacher/child ratio is usually 6 children per teacher, but most of the time student teachers were available to help and watch the children.
The teachers, Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Baptista were very attentive to the needs of the children; whenever the child goes to them for help they patiently listen and talk to the child in low voice and loving way. The teachers were able to interpret words and actions of the child. You can feel their sincerity and caring. The staffs communicate with each other in providing activities and materials that children find engaging. By facilitating learning, supplying a developmentally appropriate environment, interesting materials and adequate time to explore, play and interact, children find learning easy and fun
The preschool child I observed was A J. Mrs. Brown ask me to used initials to ensure confidentiality of the child, since I don’t have permission from the parents. But she allows me to describe the child based on my observation and judgment. A J is taller than most of her classmates and has a “lean body” not overweight or skinny. She has a full cheeks, I can see a full sets of teeth when she smiles and fair Caucasian skin. A J is three years old and eleven months, the teacher graciously gave an estimate of her weight and height. She weighs 35 pounds and 39.5 inches tall. According to the teacher, she started at the preschool when she is 2 years old and 4 months. A J has a short curly blonde hair, with blue eyes and thin blonde eye brows. She is wearing a big pink flower headband that matches her short summer dress under a white zipped sweatshirt.
When A J first arrived, she greeted all the teachers. She said “Good morning Mrs. Rodriguez” “Good morning Mrs. Batista (should be Baptista) and peeked to the other room where Mrs. Brown is and said “Good morning Mrs. Brown”. When A J saw me, I smiled to her and she gave me a small smile and walked straight to Mrs. Rodriguez. I heard Mrs. Rodriguez telling her “she is our visitor”. A J asked “My new teacher”? “No, she is going to watch and do her job”. She said “ok”. And when her classmates saw her, three of them approached and ask her to play with them.
Which she refused and said “I am going to do make my scare crow”. She is the only child that said good morning first to all the teachers. This caught my attention because I see a happy and sweet little girl, aside from being so pretty. I chose here to be the subject of this observation because aside from being fit to the age requirement, her smile is contagious and there is something on her that capture your attention, I can’t explain yet but I am going to find out what draws people’s attention into her.
A J weighs 35 pounds and three feet and 3 inches by the time she reaches 6 years old she will weigh around 44 pounds and three feet tall and nine inches. She is within the normal range for her age (Berger, 167). A J is physically fit; her body is well proportioned and leaned. Her growth will be expected to slow down by the age five and six, where her legs and arms lengthen, fat turns to muscles (Berger, 167). This enables her to balance her body and enjoy the fun of dancing, running and playing without falling or slipping. I noticed during snacks, A j finished first the carrot slice. I think this is the reason why she is lean because those who eat more vegetables and fewer fried foods usually gain bone mass but not fat (Berger, 168). When A J is working on her scare crow, she asks the teacher if she can cut the pant and shirt shape paper. I noticed that she was holding the paper on her left hand and scissor on the right hand and I can see that she is concentrating in what she is doing. Both sides of the brain are normally involved in almost every skill (Berger, 179).
She was able to cut the paper pant and shirt perfectly by following the line. This shows A J’s eye-hand coordination is well balanced. She both used her hand in shaking the small plastic glue bottle and squeezed it to the edge of the pant and shirt following the shape without a mess. I noticed too that A J used both hands in pouring the juice in her cup, using her right hand to hold the handle of the plastic container and left hand on the bottom of the container to avoid spill and to control how much juice she will pour. A J demonstrates perseveration when she was approached by her classmates and asks to play with them but she replied “I am going to make my scare crow” and she did finished it.
Many children ages between 3 and 5, are impulsive flitting to one activity to another (Berger, 178) A J’s demonstrated her well-developed fine motor skills by cutting the paper, draw flowers on the board; pick-up her snacks, unzipped her sweatshirt and ties her shoes (Berger, 170). When A J unzipped her sweatshirt she could not undo the zipper at the bottom to completely unzip so she pulled it from the hood over her head to take it off. She was dancing and jumping on the carpet during circle time. While outside on the playground A J was running nonstop on the entire playground, push the tire swing with her foot and climbed up the ladder, ride the bike, lift water bucket to transfer water to the sand box. I didn’t see her falling or slipping on any of these activities. She has a good balance and these means A J’s gross motor skills are well-developed (Berger, 170).
Piaget second period of Preoperational intelligence shows symbolic thoughts (Berger, 182). While doing the scare crow project, A J asks the teacher “Mrs. Rodriguez can I have a big scare crow? The teacher ask why she replied “to protect us from the witch” This symbolic thought explained animism. Many young children believed that natural objects are alive (Berger, 182). A J demonstrates egocentrism when the scarecrow project is done she said “perfect! I will show this to mommy, I’m sure she will love it!” Egocentric children contemplate the world exclusively from their personal perspective. She expected that her mom will love what she did (Berger, 182) I noticed that A J focuses on appearance. When her boy classmate told her they have the same shoes, she replied “No, were not. Mine is pink, yours is blue”.
Although, they are both have converse shoes the only difference is the color (Berger, 182). When A J entered the room she immediately approached all the teachers saying good morning. She even starts her day on the table working with her teacher, asking questions how to do it and her teacher in return is guiding and helping her how to do the work. A J is learning on what Vygotsky believed; social learning. This emphasized that thinking is shaped by other peoples’ wishes and goals. A J is learning from her teacher through guided participation within her zone of proximal development (ZPD) an intellectual arena where new ideas and skills can be mastered. Her learning depends on the teachers’ willingness and ability to provide scaffolding or temporary support to help within their developmental zone (Berger, 184).
A J is very curious; she always asks her teacher questions like: “why do we need a lot of scare crow?” “Why do we need to hang it” “why Ayana is not here today” she even asks “Why Mrs. Brown is wearing a Charger shirt today?” And when she is not satisfied with the teachers answer, she would say “ maybe because today is Fun Friday” According to theory-theory, the best explanation for cognition is that human seek reasons, causes and underlying principles to make sense of their experience. Curiosity and thought, connecting bits of knowledge and observation develop theories that help young children understand and remember (Berger, 186). A J doesn’t show any idea of what others thinking. Theory of mind is not fully developed at this young age. This ability is slow to develop but typically beginning in most children at about age 4 (Berger, 186.)
A J’s brought a book to her lap where three of her girl classmate gathered. “I have story to share” she said. A J held the book up for the group to see and said “the title of the book is From Head To Toe” “a favorite of mine” and then set the book on her lap and opened it to the first page. Ana pointed to each illustration and told a story based on what she saw in each picture. She pointed to the next and turned the pages one by one. When she reached the end of the book, she closed it and said “the end”. Then returning to the children and ask: “Does anyone have a questions?” A J displays significant language development in this situation. “By four year old most children are able to say 5-20 sentence length and they have about 3,000-10,000 vocabulary words.” (Berger,189). Her verbal language skills are remarkable when she speaks in complete and grammatically correct sentences. At her age, she was able to use “the” “a” article in her sentence.
She was able to say the correct words by looking at the picture identifying the different kinds of animals and describing what are they doing. This is the process called fast mapping wherein children develop an interconnected set of categories for words. When A J is done working on her scare crow, she said to herself “yes! I’m done!” Occasionally, while reading the book to her classmate she is mumbling words like “yeah, that’s right”. I saw her nodding her head while watching her classmate put the puzzle together conforming maybe that what her classmates doing is right.
This shows that A J makes use of private speech, which is talking to herself either out lout or in one’s mind (Berger, 188). She communicates very well with her teacher and classmates. During snacks, A J was telling her classmates that her birthday is coming up and it’s going to be a costume party. She happily announces she’s going to be Queen Elsa. Isabella said “I want to be princess Ana” Sam said “It’s nice if we have snow!” And everyone agreed to have a snow idea.
Erikson thought young children are naturally motivated to take initiative, with joy at new tasks, yet vulnerable to feeling guilty (Berger, 206) A J demonstrates a positive sense of self through her initiative and awareness of her own skills and accomplishment. A J was so happy when she finished her project by herself. She feels so proud when the teacher praises her with her work. She even wants to show it to her mom. But she felt shameful; when the teacher reprimands her from helping her classmates answer the questions during circle time. She looks down and stays quite. Controlling the expression of emotions, called emotional regulation is the preeminent psychosocial task between ages 2 and 6 (Berger, 206). A J displays pro-social behavior when she cooperates with her peers during clean up time, sharing space on the circle time when Samantha wants to sit by Reese by moving to the other side (Berger, 226).
A J displays empathy in numerous occasions. Empathy is the understanding of other people’s feeling and concerns (Berger, 226) When Samantha was dropped off by her mom; she seemed to be sad and clingy. A J approached Samantha and said “Hi Samantha, Come! I’m going to show you my scare crow”. After that, Samantha is smiling already and starts doing her scare crow. Another example is when the children were running at the same time splashing water on the playground and Reese fell on her knees; A J said “stop! Reese got hurt” and everybody stop and the teacher check Reese and asked to move out to the shaded area to get check so others can continue playing. Temperaments vary, which makes people within the same culture unlike one another (Berger, 208) A J is so expressive of her emotions.
She giggles so loud when she is happy and got too excited. She even jumps and claps her hands when the teacher announces “today is fun Friday”. She felt sad and quiet when the teacher told her to wait for her turn to ride the bike. But she didn’t show any sign of aggression or develop antipathy to her classmates because after a few minutes she is already playing and active again. A J develops strong gender awareness when she, Isabella, Samantha and Reese gathered together having a tea party while playing outside. When Nathan sat on the vacant chair she said “only girls here” “go back to your pirate ship” pointing to the group of boys playing by the big slides (Berger, 206).
“Young children play best with peers, that is, people of about the same age in which they develop positive social skills” (Berger, 212). Children need physical activity to develop muscle strength and control. Peers provide an audience, role models and competition. Rough-and-tumble play and socio-dramatic play both help children with socialization (Berger, 214). A J enjoys playing, inside and outside the classroom. I observed that she loves socio-dramatic play where they act out various roles and plots (Berger 214). She pretends to be the teacher when she read books to her classmates and play tea party. A J and the other girls joined the pirate game played by the boys when their tea party is over. In the playground, she climbed up the ladder and slides. Rode the tire swing and spin it so fast that makes me dizzy watching them.
They play hide and seek; rode the bike, and even allowed to play in the water tub as long as they take out their shoes and wear the vest so they don’t get wet. I think this is where they stayed most during outside play. The children are splashing water with each other others and some are trying to make sand castle on the sand area collecting water from the tub using a small bucket. I would say she is very strong and healthy because she can lift the bucket full of water without dropping the bucket or spill. A J plays most of the time with her classmate. She displays cooperative play: Children play together, creating dramas or taking turns (Berger, 212).
The Whole Child and Over All Impression
I enjoyed observing this preschool, especially A J. At the beginning, I can’t fully understand what captures my attention to her. Now I know, it’s the confidence she is showing as she enters the classroom. Her aura reflects a fun loving, happy, active and smart little girl. She doesn’t show any hesitation coming in the classroom. The way she talks amazed me. She can express herself, using more than 5 words in a sentence without difficulty in speaking. She can communicate using words that are understandable and grammatically correct to her classmates and teachers. Although, I hear her couple of times that she mispronounced Mrs. Baptista’s last name as “Mrs. Batista” which I know will master sooner as her brain matures. A J develop a secure attachment which according to our text feels comfortable and confident (Berger, 142) to the environment and to the teachers since she is already with them since she was 2 years old and 4 months.
It’s a place like home to her and when she saw me (a stranger) stayed close to the teacher and ask about me seeking for assurance I believed and feels safe again (Berger, 142). A J’s physical development is observed to be normal and healthy. Her gross motor skills are well developed. She is very active and capable of doing what four years old supposed to do considering she is only 3 years old and 11 months such as walking, running, jumping, dancing, bending, climbed at the ladder without any physical unbalance. During play she giggles and laughs most of the time which the teachers always remind her to lower her voice, which sometimes she listens but sometimes not. A J displays an excellent level in social development. She demonstrated what Vygotsky believed that “thinking is shaped by other people’s wishes and goals” (Berger, 184). Since she started at the preschool by the age of 2 years and 4 months, you can see the bond between her and the teachers. I can see that she enjoys the company of her friends and teacher, she always play with her classmates all the time.
She displayed cooperative and high self-esteem valuing herself as a person and confident at her age. I was surprised that at her age, she can control her emotions. She didn’t show any sign of aggression even when she was pushed in the line or fell on her bottom or when she wants something what other children’s playing. She would ask her teacher if she can play with that toy and the teacher will ask her to wait for her turn or ask the child if A J can play with her/him together. She demonstrated perseveration when she was approached by her classmates and asks to play with her which I admired the most because many children ages between 3 and 5 are impulsive flitting to one activity to another (Berger, 178). Also, when were told to stop teaching her classmates words that start with letter “F” although she is upset, she quietly wait for her turn to be ask. I noticed that she finished every activity and play before jumping to another. I know it’s hard to master this at the very young age but she did it.
That makes her exemplary good on this level of development. A J’s curiosity makes her smart and learned new things. She constantly asks questions to her teachers and classmates about anything to understand and remember (Berger, 186). And I can see that she is learning very well through guided participation within her zone of proximity. A J’s cognitive development seemed to be average, at her age. Her preoperational thought is symbolic and magical (Berger, 182).She is not mature to have logical thinking. Maybe this is the reason why she enjoyed socio dramatic play most of the time. She believed that the big scare crow will protect her from the witch. She is fond of “Olaf” the snow man friend of Queen Elsa in the movie “Frozen”. She wished to have “Olaf” on her birthday. She is egocentric where she expected that other people would appreciate and love things she do (Berger, 182). She focusses on appearance and I think fully aware of gender differences as she pointed out to her boy classmates that they are different because of shoe color and the boys is not allowed to play tea party.
She makes me smiles most of the time (because I can’t laugh while observing them) with her actions and words, especially when they are talking about their snacks and she said I have a “goldfish sandwich” as she make goldfish put raisins on the middle to make it like a sandwich. That makes all her classmates laugh and think of something silly too to describe their snack. She can even pretend to be the teacher while reading the books to them. It’s so amazing how she can do the story-telling just like what her teacher do from the beginning till the end. And I’m surprised how her classmates give their full attention as she pretend to read the book. Usually, little kids talks all the time without regards as to who is talking, but here, I noticed that children already learned to respect their classmates and teachers when they are talking. After viewing the environment of the preschool, I have come into conclusion that it contains all the element of quality preschool. They provide Christian atmosphere that promote the spiritual, social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of each child.
The goal is to enable each child grow and learn in a safe and stimulating environment at their own pace. I’ve learned also from the teachers that every Tuesday’s class they incorporated good Christian living in their lesson. I believed it’s a good way of teaching children’s values in life following the way of Jesus. I feel that the surroundings, specially the various stimulating areas help to individualize each child’s learning like Reading corner, Math area, Letters, Dramatic play, Children’s corner that shows schedule, calendars, and announcement and the star student of the month. It is important to have orderly and stimulating areas for the children to freely choose what to participate in. I believed that the teachers have a great understanding of child development and education. This shows in their daily schedule posted in the Children’s which listed the daily routine for the children. For example, circle time, Math & letter followed by mid-morning snacks and then followed by outside play.
It is important that the children in the preschool participate in routines. Routines assist children in learning through both repetition and consistency. The preschool program is definitely based on encouraging learning and respecting children’s exploration. Teachers and staff respect each child for what they are and help them live fully and happy to the best of their ability. This preschool observation is very interesting. I’d learned the important role of teachers in nurturing all aspects of development: social, emotional, cognitive and physical. In every interaction, the teachers appropriately nurture their growth and development. The education and values that the teachers impart to their students has great impacts to them later in life. Through this experience, I am pleased to learn that preschool may look like all fun and games –music, story time, dancing, art but the children are learning through play and creative activity. They learned to solve problem playing building blocks. At a very young age, the children develop good learning habits and positive self-esteem. Children are capable of learning at their own pace and make their own decision.
Courtney from Study Moose
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