Preschool and Grades 3/4 Partnership
By Kristin Lewis
Preschool children are often among the youngest students on a school campus. That can be isolating, but not so at Friends School Haverford. Our preschoolers are known and loved by students, teachers, and staff throughout the school community. Belonging matters. Having a sense of belonging is essential to school success.
One of the experiences that makes this possible is partner class time. At Friends School Haverford, each class, from the Forest’s Edge nursery to the eighth grade, is partnered with another class for the school year. The preschool’s partner class is Tr. Dee’s third and fourth grade class. On Thursday mornings, the third and fourth grade students walk from the Schoolhouse to the preschool classroom in Heritage House, where eager preschoolers greet them and look forward to a half hour of reading, sharing, and playing with their “big kid” friends. This year’s partnership is just beginning.
During the summer, preschool students created photo albums with their families. At our first meeting, preschoolers used these photo albums to introduce themselves to their big kid partners. As the third and fourth graders looked through the photos with their young partners, conversations began and connections were made. “Do you have a little brother? Me too!” “I went to the beach this summer, too. Did you like the ocean?” “Your dog is cute! I have a cat at my house.”
Tr. Dee’s students created a coloring game to provide another path for learning about their new partners. Each preschool student was given a page with pictures of everything from pets to pizza and invited to color the things that appealed to them. The third and fourth graders watched attentively, asked questions about these selections and shared their own likes and dislikes. More conversation, more connection!
The following week, preschoolers baked sugar cookies to share with their third and fourth grade friends. When the big kids arrived, partners selected picture books to read together, then took books and cookies outside to enjoy on a beautiful fall morning. After reading with their preschool pals, Tr. Dee’s students invited their partners to play games on the turf field. Children playing duck duck goose, tag, and made-up-on-the-spot games spread across the grass. After much running, laughter, and silliness, both classes gathered in one large circle to sing a parting song about making new friends. The seeds are being planted. In this school community, we all matter, we all belong, and we will nurture these new friendships as they grow and blossom.