A school’s fledglings
Text: Monika Pedersen
As the curtain of darkness of the winter months begins to pull back, March and April appear on the horizon and herald the start of Spring. Most of us are ready to abandon hibernation mode and enjoy the new season. Spring heralds the time to set out new aspirations and possibilities to be explored in the forthcoming months.
Hives of activity
As we become more active, schools, in contrast, are always busy places and have an array of seasonal activities that need to be rolled out, as the academic year is tightly packed and short.
Divisional leaders organise exam schedules and exam room logistics at the upper levels. Secondary teachers prepare students by working through exam past papers, reviewing complex topics, and advising on successful exam-taking techniques.
In the middle years, students enjoy language trips abroad, skiing trips, and sporting fixtures.
And in the lower primary level, an inspiring event is about to occur. The precise start date depends on the individual school, but it tends to occur in March or April when the pre-school students arrive at school.
Preparations for the exciting day begin as far back as October. Parents looking to enrol their child into an international school start to make applications. Part of the process involves sharing the necessary paperwork, but the more important aspect with children barely 4 years old is their ‘school readiness screening’, determined by an ‘observation day’ spent at school and the recommendation from their nursery or early learning centre.
The ‘screening day’ involves all the prospective new applicants coming together to spend a morning with their pre-school teachers. The two teachers have a unique programme organised for the day, so they can see how the children behave in different situations.
Activities include such things as carpet time to learn names, a creative activity, song singing, unstructured play time, and snack time to see how the little ‘fledglings’ cope alone and away from their parents, how they participate in the activities set out, and how they interact with them, and with their peers?
Checklists are used as a prompt, while observation and pieces produced by a child assist in assessing whether the child can flourish in the school setting or still needs a little more time in an early learning setting. The decision is made by the teachers, school administration, and the parents, with the child’s best interests at the core.
"Spring heralds the time to set out new aspirations and possibilities to be explored in the forthcoming months."
Those children, who indicated they are ready, are scheduled to start in March. From March until June, the pre-school teachers set a schedule to prepare the students for the first class. It is a huge undertaking for the teachers and the little people starting out on an exciting and challenging pathway.
The young students learn through song and ‘hands-on’ activities. They are taught the days of the week and the calendar, discuss the weather, practice writing their names, learn to count to ten, and start to learn the letters of the alphabet. They are also introduced to very basic phonic learning activities, they are offered many opportunities to speak in complete sentences to a class audience, and they listen to stories. The children also practice drawing and learning some of the names of colours.
The seasoned teachers work on the basic academic aspects and, more importantly, build a class community through structures such as golden rules, which can include bringing a smile to school, including everyone wanting to partner in a game, and sharing compliments and kind words. Actions to model how to connect sensitively and thoughtfully are frequently repeated. Class bonding time is a part of each day. As children come from different cultures and households, a culturally respectful and global-minded approach is set out. This is built upon each year, from primary to secondary school, so a certain mindset is instilled.
Small steps from which to spring forward
An amazing amount of energy is exerted on affirming academic and social competencies, for the teachings received in a child’s formative years provide the fundamental groundwork for a child’s future pathway and destiny.
1. Overview of the Danish Education System
2. Assessment Tools for Early Childhood