|"Initiative" is the term Erikson used to describe the preschool years (from 3 to 5 years of age). It's a good word for preschoolers because they are active, talkative, and creative: they "initiate" a lot.
Preschool children seem to have endless energy. They are eager for new experiences and have gained many skills that help them learn. They can build, draw, mold, paint, put things together, climb, and swing with increasing skill. They are curious and ask questions about everything to find out more about the world around them. Preschoolers are very social and often have best friends. They are learning to cooperate and play with others, and they want to be liked.
Understanding the developmental needs of preschoolers allows me to plan a program that meets their needs and helps each preschooler grow and develop. In the following, I have outlined what preschoolers are like and how my curriculum, based on the Creative Curriculum for Family Child Care, helps meet their needs.
- Preschoolers are aware of how others respond to them and use these experiences to develop their own self-concepts. I will plan a program and learn ways of talking to preschoolers that help them feel accepted and special.
- Preschoolers express their feelings and display a wide range of emotions - fears, anger, happiness, embarrassment. I will recognize what children are feeling and help them express and cope with fears and emotions.
- Preschoolers play cooperatively with other children and often have best friends. I will help children get along with others and feel part of the group.
- Preschoolers enjoy role-playing and make-believe play. I will plan dramatic play experiences and take an active role in helping children use make-believe to further their growth.
- Preschoolers respond well to praise and encouragement. I will give children opportunities to talk about their own work and develop pride in their accomplishments.
- Preschoolers love to talk, ask questions, and share what they know. I will talk with preschoolers and ask questions that encourage them to think and put their ideas into work.
- Preschoolers are curious about how things work and why. I will select a variety of materials and activities that children can take apart and explore.
- Preschoolers take pride in mastering and completing tasks. I will plan activities that challenge preschoolers and allow time in the schedule for them to stay with a task as long as they wish.
- Preschoolers learn by active play with real materials and by making their own discoveries. I will select materials that will interest preschoolers and encourage them to try out their own ideas.
- Preschoolers develop increasing control over the small muscles in their hands. I will include a variety of art materials, writing, and drawing tools, and toys that develop children's small muscles.
- Preschoolers develop increasing coordination and control over the large muscles in their legs and arms. I will plan music and movement activities indoors and a safe environment outdoors for children to run and climb and build.
- Preschoolers develop increasing coordination of eye and hand movements. I will select toys, art materials, and props that will challenge children to practice eye-hand coordination skills.
Someof the toys and materials that I have purchased for preschoolers:
For more information on caring for Preschoolers in a Family Child Care environment, please refer to the "Creative Curriculum for Family Child Care" by Diane Trister Dodge.
- small play house, zoo, garage, farm sets
- family sets and animal figures
- plastic snapping blocks
- pegboards and pegs
- interlocking toys
- pattern blocks
- magnetic board with shapes
- felt board with shapes and felt animals and people
- wooden, sturdy cardboard puzzles with 8-20 pieces
- writing materials such as pencils, colored pencils, washable pens
- crayons, washable markers, chalk, glue, scissors, and hole punches
- balls and hula hoops for outdoor play
- wagons, baby carriages, and tricycles
- water-based paints and brushes
- props for block play such as small animals, buses, airplanes, cars, dollfurniture, traffic signs, and trains
- props for sand and water play such as squirt bottles, shells, combs and rakes
- props for dramatic play such as brooms, mops, full-length mirrrors, plastic dishes, male and female dress-up clothes, hats of all types, costume jewelry, and accessories related to specific themes such as grocery stores, offices, or hospitals
- materials to sort or play with, including buttons, keys, seashells, fabric squares, coffee scoops, and plastic bottle tops
- collage materials for art, such as feathers, glitter, styrofoam, scraps of wrapping paper, toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, and macrame
- bubbles and frames, etc.