Having a strong community is essential when working with preschool aged children because the feeling of safety and love is fundamental to their developing brains, their success in preschool, and their continued success in their schooling career.
I always tried to focus on the first two weeks of school to start to build relationships with the children and to help children build relationships with each other. I focused on procedures of course but I really spent time on getting to know each student on an individual level and learning about their hobbies, siblings, likes, dislikes, backgrounds, and everything else. Not only did this help me learn about them as a person, but it helped them feel comfortable around me as well. Young children don’t often have adults getting on their level and asking them questions about themselves and actually listening. They are aware of that and it conveys to them that they are special and I, as their teacher, care about them. This helps build a foundation of trust and respect that continues to grow over the school year. I also think positive relationships between the students are vital to a classroom community. If they don’t feel that they belong and that they have peers, I have found that there are always behavior problems because they are lacking that attention. That is why I don’t push content or standards in the beginning of the year and I just let them play. Play is so important to helping them become friends and through play, they problem solve, socialize, and interact authentically with each other which naturally leads to friendships and relationships that allow the students to feel that sense of community.
More and more I feel that preschools are straying away from a focus on community and are pushing content. In my experience, many people forget that these little people are only 3, 4, and 5. They need to play and run and interact with others. If the children feel loved and that they have the time and the space to be themselves, the standards and the content always comes easy. Pushing for that play for students can be hard in school systems now but it’s so important for the students on a developmental level and fundamental to building a classroom community