be.Living

Year 5: An invitation to mature

Year 5 is a time when children go through many profound changes. It’s a year marked by the transition to Elementary School II and the end of a cycle at be.Living, as well as the passage to adolescence. Therefore, we look at this moment in a very special way, understanding that at this age the issues brought up tend to involve a more intense discovery process by the children, both in relation to themselves and to the world in which they are inserted. And so, we take a caring approach and look at the entire Year 5 experience as one of passage, of entering a new stage of life.

Our Elementary School Coordinator, Gabriela Fernandes, says that this is a very auspicious period for children to develop the sense of otherness. “The realization of the difference between oneself and the other necessarily implies a reflection on the diverse perspectives that people bring to the world, increasing the demand for appreciating these differences and for the responsibilities we have towards each other. In Year 5, the syllabus turns its focus on otherness, from studying the genre memoir in literature, to a Social Sciences project that looks at the rise of civil rights, and through a Life Sciences assignment on the human body, where children discuss what makes each body different. Year 5 is very much marked by the maturing process of children and our goal is to look at this stage of life, validating the new desires and possibilities, while at the same time new responsibilities also arise.”

Besides what is learned through the assignments, a sequence of activities is designed so that children can experience, on a daily basis, the development of autonomy, responsibility, and conscious choices.

Year 5 teacher Letícia Araújo says that, when the year begins, the goals of the class are clearly stated and reinforced through a learning contract, when everyone prepares to absorb appropriate the tools of student posture and togetherness within the school space. As a result, they reach an understanding that Year 5 has a different role within the school.

At the beginning of each year, they are responsible for organizing the spaces and welcoming the younger students, becoming leaders to their underclass colleagues, and perceiving themselves as grown. “Year 5 is a year where we invite kids to mature. When the year starts, the class organizes and conducts a tour for Year 1, putting itself in a different place, which is a place of elders. They begin to become engaged in school administration issues, which allows them to apply their maturity in practice. During this tour, in addition to handling organization duties, they will also learn to deal with others when they receive the incoming students. We talked to the class about what can be done in each situation, who they can turn to for help if the children cry, for example. They are observing the dynamics of parents and teachers, and kind of putting themselves in the place of adults,” says Leticia.

The teacher says that one of the first invitations to mature that she extends to the class is when she asks them to help her put the class syllabus together. “I ask them to make a list of what they would like to study and I, as a teacher, make a commitment that the interests expressed by them are contemplated in our curriculum. Another invitation I make at the beginning of the year is for them to decide with whom and where they will sit on the bus that goes to the Acamerê camp. We advise that this be a decision of their own will and also of a conversation between all the children, so that they all feel happy with the seats chosen.”

Our coordinator Gabriela emphasizes that it is very important that children learn to make good choices. “We make the mistake to think choosing is a natural thing, but it’s not. The choices we want them to learn to make are conscious choices, based on reflection processes focused both on their worldview and each specific situation, as well as their view towards others and the collective. We understand that puberty, which precedes adolescence, is a time in our lives when we are thrown into the world. A teenager can and needs to make many choices. Therefore, we understand how important it is to develop that skill, so that they can reflect on their choices based on what is different in me and in the other, who I am and who the other is, how we constitute ourselves as a society and, from there, I make my choices to benefit me but, also, to benefit the collective.”

Throughout the year, we make more and more invitations to mature, as exemplified by Teacher Leticia. “One of our assignments involves organizing the lockers, so that they take ownership of these spaces and organize themselves as a group. Instead of being assigned random lockers, we ask them to come to a consensus on who will get which one, managing everyone’s expectations so that the whole class feels comfortable with the decision. So we organize this process based on that. We make it clear to them that the locker is their space. We make a deal that neither I nor anyone else should open the closet without their permission. They are the ones who will clean, organize and, if necessary, call for a collective effort to keep things neat. This type of agreement makes children participate more actively in the management process.”

Letícia recalls that Year 5 is responsible for hosting and organizing the entire Festa Junina, and that the Arts and Science Show (MAC) at be.Living requires the students to take an even more active stance, when they dive deeper, individually, into their research and present their project to the entire school community. “We have several strategies and stages they go through over the course of the year so that they can become aware of this moment of growth.”

Coordinator Gabi says it’s very important for kids to know about the responsibilities that come with growing up. “As they grow, it is inevitable that the place they occupy in their relationship with the environment, with the rules and with people will change. We understand that it is the role of the school to have this very well defined. To grow, you need to break with what has already been established, and that means testing some social boundaries. And it is important to say that the processes are individual, not linear. And that, in this sense, we do all this work of growing, reflecting, taking responsibility, together. It’s a big difference from the future stage of Elementary School II, where they are not closely monitored. Right now, Year 5 kids are growing up in the ever-present company of an adult who is an expert in this subject.”

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