Is There a Difference Between pre-K3 and pre-K4 Programs?

Catherine Thomson '94
Early childhood education is often thought of as the means of preparing children for kindergarten and the school years beyond, but it’s so much more. Structured school settings at early ages encourage a foundation for learning, and they enhance social-emotional growth, physical skills, cognitive thinking and language. At Norfolk Collegiate, our pre-Kindergartens are tailored to foster the development of the whole child and lay the groundwork for lifelong success.

What’s the difference between pre-Kindergarten 3 and pre-Kindergarten 4?

While the day’s schedule may look similar between the classes, the content is quite different. Naturally, the academic focus builds as students master letters and letter sounds to start building literacy skills just as students master numbers and counting. However, much of the focus in these early childhood years is centered on building the child’s cognitive skills, fine motor strength, language and social-emotional growth.

The chart below outlines one sample of the skills teachers intentionally foster through lessons, classroom interactions and purposeful play opportunities throughout their pre-K schedules. It also illustrates how these skills build from one year to the next.

Teachers fill our pre-Kindergarten classes with academic activities that also build language, thinking strategies and social skills. They encourage cooperation–sharing, taking turns and being patient. With coaching and practice using these social skills, students are set up for success. Additionally, with a direct focus on fine motor skills, such as pencil grip and scissor use, students continue to enhance vital working skills to help them be proud workers as they continue in school. As students head to Kindergarten, they have the academic skills necessary, and have vital experience collaborating, problem-solving and the confidence to succeed.

Dr. Catherine Thomson '94 is the lower school dean at Norfolk Collegiate. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a concentration on literacy leadership from Old Dominion University, a masters in reading education from the University of Virginia, a bachelor of science from James Madison University and has her early childhood license for pre-Kindergarten through Grade 2. She is also a K-12 reading specialist and was a first grade teacher at Norfolk Collegiate for many years.

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