be.Living

New groups, new learning

New groups are formed every year in all of the school’s classes. They are unique individuals, each with their own distinct abilities and needs, brought together in a novel environment that presents itself to them.

In practice, a group changes due to the insertion of new members. It is important to recognize that even a group that returns from vacation – seemingly unchanged, with the same children as the previous year – is confronted with a major change: a new teacher or professor leading the work. And the teachers are part of the group. In this case, they are the new members. As such, it is always necessary to take the time to establish the new school group.

“At school, each group has the role of carrying out the tasks and learning for its year. Whenever a group takes on a new role, we have to do some work to build up the group because the goals have changed. Therefore, the start of every year is highly laborious and closely monitored. The teachers need to receive the children, make a collective agreement that is the ‘educational contract’, one of the great milestones of this initial period of work, through which the objectives are clarified. The goals of a second grade group, for example, are different from the goals of a third grade group, when new attitudes are expected and different demands and goals are placed on the children” – explains Gabriela Fernandes, Elementary School coordinator at be.Living.

Gabriela says that the children spend time reflecting on what it means to be part of that group. “The start of every year involves a big task of adapting and building up the group. Children need to have all the guidelines of what is expected of them at that new time. The work of forming a group seeks to clarify these objectives while also engaging children in the learning process. The objectives are not placed from the teacher to the child; the children actively participate in the process, thus developing their sense of responsibility towards what has been agreed upon.”

The coordinator emphasizes that, in Elementary School, the first year undertakes this work in a more prolonged and intensive manner. “In Year 1, we welcome children who came from other schools and children who came from two different Early Childhood Education groups at be.Living. These children need more time to come together as a group. They are altering the school cycle. The Early Childhood Education cycle has a different pace. In Elementary School, the demand is greater with respect to the attention span devoted to the activities. So we start working with this group to get them ready for this new learning phase, and we only do this because their little bodies are already ready for it. They still play a lot, but there are times when they sit for longer periods in their chairs, with their own materials. We do a lot of procedural work, teaching the children how to do it. The child learns to do something by practicing it repeatedly, with the guidance of those who already know how to do it,” – says Gabi.

She adds that young children have their own preferences and that this is an opportunity to introduce recognition exercises to help them diversify and expand their connections and appreciation. “Younger children tend to prefer spending time with the same friends. So, they won’t be the only ones making the choice. We do some activities where we suggest who they should play and work with, so they can start to understand that the person they like to play with the most may not be the best person to work with, and by having the children work together, they also start to play together. So we create opportunities to bring the children together. It is a great task of socialization: to expand one’s circle of friends, to break down the small groups that have been established since they were young, always with the goal of helping them to grow, expand, and experience new things. The children are always included throughout the entire process, being called to self-regulation and self-perception: ‘which activity I like the most’, ‘who I like to play with’, ‘who I like to work with the most’, ‘who I think I am going to sit with on the bus to the Acamerê camp’”.

In addition to encouraging Year 1 children to consider their relationships, a thorough exploration of emotions is conducted with them. “We begin the year by examining emotions so that they can recognize what they are feeling amidst all these changes. One of the guiding principles of this work is a TV Cultura program called “What monster bit you?”. The children watch the episodes and begin to reflect on how they feel in the midst of this process in which they perceive themselves growing up. It is also part of the work of group building to help children recognize and identify their frustrations, fears, angers, and joys, so that they can move forward and broaden their relationships.”

Meanwhile, in Early Childhood Education, the little ones from Yellow Orange are arriving for the first time at school. The teachers are completely focused on embracing each of these children, so that they feel that the school is a secure environment where they can gradually discover themselves, build relationships, and have meaningful experiences.

“At the beginning of a year, all the groups experience a moment of constitution and welcoming. The teachers’ work will be very focused on the needs of the group and the children. Even for those who were already in school the previous year, the perspective will be warm and respectful, recognizing the importance of returning to school. This will help the child feel secure in their role as a reference for the younger students, and reinforce the growth they have experienced. It is a time to create a connection with the child, to introduce the new routine, always with a sense of respect as each child will respond to these changes in their own unique way. The perspective is one of welcoming, but also of planning, with the intention of strengthening the child” – explains Patricia Dominguez, Early Childhood Education coordinator.

Patricia explains that it is essential to understand the characteristics, interests, and needs of each group in order to effectively carry out the work planned for the year. “At be.Living, we follow the BNCC to guide our work, so we are clear about what the children’s learning rights and learning objectives are for each age group. But the way we approach these goals and guarantee these rights will be very much guided by the characteristics of each group. There are groups, for example, that are more body-based, that need more challenging movement to learn to master the body, to stand in a circle. What this group is conveying to the teacher is essential for the teacher to plan for the entire semester. It is essential that this content has a meaningful impact on the children. So looking at the individuality of each child is also extremely important in this process.”

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