Posted on 12/21/2017 at 12:00 AM by Blog Experts

Recently Teaching Strategies expanded the GOLD widely held expectations for their learning objectives.  Now, rather than going from birth through kindergarten they go from birth through third grade.  There are two reasons why it’s OK that preschool teachers can see those lower elementary widely-held expectations:  1) it helps them understand how what we should focus on in the preschool years fits into the progression of learning that skill and 2) it helps us to understand what is not a fair expectation, therefore not something we should focus on, for children in preschool.

Let’s take an example of a GOLD social-emotional objective and consider how the two reasons apply.  Objective 3b is Solves social problems.  The widely held expectation for a 4-year-old with regards to this objective is that they would be able to suggest a solution to a social problem. 

The third grade expectation is that they would be able to consider multiple viewpoints when solving conflicts.  If in preschool they are able to suggest a solution, then in kindergarten or 1st grade they should be able to resolve social problems through basic negotiation; and in 2nd grade they should be able to seek conflict resolutions based on interest in maintaining the relations in the future; for which this will all lead to that 3rd grade expectation of being able to consider multiple viewpoints for solving conflicts.  One leads to the other and we must keep the “horse before the cart”.

 We would not expect that a 4-year-old would be able to consider multiple viewpoints when solving conflicts, as that is a 3rd grade skill.  Similarly, if a child is only seeking adults for solving problems, a 2 or 3-year-old skill, we would want to provide them with some additional support so they can reach that 4-year-old expectation of being able to suggest solutions to a social problem.  We must also remember that young children all develop at different speeds and it could be an age-appropriate skill isn’t there today, but may show up tomorrow.

Now let’s take an example of a GOLD literacy objective and consider how the two reasons apply.  Objective 15d is Applies phonics concepts and knowledge of word structure to decode text.  The widely held expectation for a 4-year-old is that they simply understand that a sequence of letters represents a spoken word. 

When a 4-year-old tells you you’re not putting the letters in his name in the right order he is demonstrating an understanding that letters together make a word.  That understanding is necessary for later being able to decipher regularly spelled one- and two-syllable words (a 1st grade skill) and later deciphering multi-syllable words (a 3rd grade skill). 

As the color progressions chart for this objective indicates, we should not expect that 4-year-olds can decode a lot of text.  They are just beginning to make some letter-sound associations for very simple words.  Concentrating too much on decoding text (phonics) in the preschool classroom rather than phonological awareness can actually slow the reading process down.

Lastly, let’s look at a GOLD mathematics objective, 20a Counts, and apply the reasons.

The color progression chart for 20a demonstrates there are lots of steps between what we would expect of a 1-year-old (that their counting would likely not be in the right order) and what we would expect of a 3rd grader (that they can count to more than 1000 using number word patterns and skip counting).  The 4-year-old step between those steps is that the child be able to verbally count to 20 accurately and tell what number comes next in order by counting from 1-10.  We must meet the child where they are at and realize that scaffolding them through one step at a time brings the best results. 

According to GOLD, counting to 100 is a kindergarten or 1st grade skill, not a 4-year-old widely held expectation.  In the preschool years we can best focus on a solid understanding of smaller numbers, and meeting multiple objective rather than what goes beyond appropriate in certain objectives.

Understanding how skills develop over time is one of the greatest attributes a preschool teacher can possess, and then using that knowledge to allow that development to unfold in children while providing ongoing age appropriate support is what it’s all about!

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