Our youngest students learn how to go to school in a welcoming, joyful environment. They are valued and cherished and, in turn, learn to value and cherish others. They practice social and emotional skills by learning to state their needs, ask for help, self regulate, set a boundary and give help to those who need it. They use a lot of messy supplies and learn how to clean up afterwards! They learn routines and also how to be flexible. They learn how to be connected and also how to have autonomy. They learn to do things for themselves (opening lunches, juices, backpacks, zipping jackets, putting on rain gear, putting on and taking off boots) and to look for solutions when what they are doing isn’t working. Our goal is to nurture good relationships and to inspire children who are confident, curious and excited to learn.
Our year works around themes and our academic learning runs alongside the content learning. We begin the year learning “All About Me” and continue on to learn about where we live. We learn about different traditions from our families. Student interest drives some of the themes, while others come from the place where we live. Farms, Ocean Life, Water, Trees, Plant Life, Healthy Body and Transportation are some themes from the year.
Students are outdoors for an extended time each day exploring our five acres of meadows, woods, and creeks, learning to be curious and asking questions. In class, they are encouraged to be creators of art, plays, stories and machines. Our program is play based and highly interactive with child interest and development continually informing next steps. Students are often asked, “If you could do anything this week, what would you choose?” Then, the teachers work those choices into our days!
During these years, children are introduced to a wide variety of books both fiction and nonfiction. We read aloud every day, making connections to experiences and to other books, asking questions and solving problems. Students are encouraged to “read” books on their own as well, practicing the habit of how to turn pages and how to track from left to right. Repetition, rhyme and alliteration are utilized to increase phonemic awareness.
Students practice crossing the midline (a critical developmental skill that promotes coordination and communication of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, both of which help students learn to read and write) with whole body activities such as dancing, air writing, yoga, climbing, building and balancing.
Both letter names and sounds are taught in songs and in daily “work,” however, the emphasis is on the readiness of each child and not on the expectation of mastery. Writing is done with pencils, pens, paint, dotters, glue, shaving cream, sand, playdough, mud, sticks, water on rocks, chalk and rocks made into chalk paint. Both lowercase and uppercase letters are used in names for writing. Pencil grip and letter formation are explicitly taught.
Our Preschool/PreK Math program strives to support the development of number sense, the single most important factor for later success in Math, with playful, hands-on, frequently outdoor experiences.
Learning to count, one to one correspondence, adding groups of objects, chants, days of the week, months of the year, days in school and conversational math are part of the daily routine.Whether it’s hiking, hopping or clapping, movement while counting is incorporated throughout the day. Students use poems to practice number formation. Cooking, measuring, exploring geometric shapes, art, music, and P.E. activities also enhance the important development of number sense.