Big Cats


The Big Cats classroom is often noisy, exciting, messy and full of little egos vying for supremacy in the environment: just the way it should be for ages from 4 and a half.

The teacher is seeking to help them progress to the next level, where working with others is better than working alone. This stage is incredibly important to honour as it sets up the healthy sense of self-worth that carries us through life.

Big Cats are about hands-on, concrete experiences, where our senses tell us how to experience the world. The Prep classroom has many of the same elements as Pre-prep, as many children need time to get comfortable understanding themselves in this shared space with others.

Big Cats need time and opportunity to explore their own personal needs and passions – for example – free play, physical space choices and places to run around, and opportunities to call out and share ideas.

The Big Cat classroom organisation is very focused upon helping these precious egos begin to perceive that their inherent need for gratification can best be served by considering others.

A Day in the Life of the Big Cats:

  • Morning meeting

    Every morning at BIS starts with a morning meeting. For the Big Cats this is an opportunity for everyone to share ideas and understand what needs to be done for the day. This is written up on the board for the readers and verbally shared throughout the day. Plans for learning and play can elicit many fun and exciting activities for the day. This is also the time for “show and tell”.

  • First session: Training

    Each morning focusses on individual progress through the academic curriculum program in English and Math.

    Students work with the teacher, teacher-aide and parent helpers to achieve book work goals, game outcomes and mini lessons. The Big Cats teacher will often have a one-on-one lesson during this time to help children move through the academic program.

    The learning at this stage is very concrete and hands-on with students counting with materials, feeling the sounds of vowels and consonants and exploring science through observation and hands-on experiments.

  • Second session: Exploring

    Depending on the day of the week, the temperament of the class and the week of the term, this middle session will be when the Big Cats work on Science, History, Geography, Technology or the Arts.

    As experiential lessons or projects to work on together, these sessions are about sharing ideas and knowledge, and learning how to work with others to achieve results. During these sessions the Big Cats may work with the Dolphins or Penguins, depending on their skill level. Sometimes this deep thinking will best be achieved by ensuring periods of undirected play or “processing time” to allow their young minds to think up new ideas, or relax their cognitive mind and explore their feelings.

    A balance is imperative; process is the key focus. We want Big Cats to explore and play with, and grow passion for learning. There is plenty of time for them to learn the “rules” of these different ways of learning.

  • Third session: Reflecting

    During this afternoon session the Big Cats take a back seat as they enjoy quiet reading or relaxation. They may go for a walk to practice being quiet or do some listening while a story is read. Some days there will be Whole School Meeting or an afternoon sports session with the whole school.

    This part of the day is always about connecting to self or connecting to others. It is our chance to review the day, think about tomorrow and dream.

Courage, balance, play

Approx. gradeprep
Approx. ageusually 4.5 - 6.5 years
Moral development stage(s):

Big Cats Basecamp:

A 20-minute overview of the Big Cat student’s journey: classroom structure, rules, academic goals and more.

Resources & Downloads:

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