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Preschool is a time of amazing growth—physical, social-emotional and intellectual. Every time a child asks “why”, explores a new object, interacts with others or tries something for the first time he/she is learning about the environment, people, and concepts that he/she’ll continue to build competence with for the rest of his/her life. Our teachers know and celebrate this in every aspect of our preschool programs. We incorporate the HighScope and Reggio Emilia approaches and are guided by the California Desired Results assessment process, Learning Foundations and Curriculum Frameworks. These approaches share some key beliefs: children are inherently competent, they learn best through meaningful experiences in a rich environment with peers and knowledgeable adults as guides and collaborators.
Our classrooms abound in materials that invite children to actively explore and that reflect their diverse interests and learning profiles. The areas of the room represent the learning domains that connect to later school content: language and literacy, math, science, visual and performing arts and social science. We have environments that are safe, child accessible and appealing to all the senses.
Our consistent daily routine helps children feel safe and secure. Children quickly internalize the predictable order of the day and know they will have opportunities to self select activities as well as interact one-on-one with a teacher and participate in teacher guided experiences in small and large groups.
The elements of the children’s day in our programs include:
Small Group Time – children work daily as a member of a group of 8-12 and with a teacher who has tracked their development, interests and strengths. Hands-on activities are planned and led by the teacher using research based school readiness curriculum resources that bridge to kindergarten standards.
Large Group/Circle Time – being a part of a larger community is something that takes a bit of practice for young children. Our large group/circle times include get to know you activities, movement, music, pretending games and physical fitness activities. In addition to the joy that comes from shared experiences, children build their ability to listen, express emotions and take turns.
Plan-Do-Review – we support children’s ability to make plans, carry them out and reflect on them, a life skill that encourages critical thinking, initiative and self-reliance within the framework of the school community. Our teachers ask children to choose something they would like to do from among the many classroom options and then fully participate with them as they follow through with their ideas. They ask children questions and think with them about what is happening to help them to extend and expand their understanding and skill development. Review follows with a small group discussion of how the plans went, what they discovered and possible next steps.
Outdoor – making a connection to natural surroundings and engaging in physical activity with playful and attentive teachers happens daily in our programs. Children are explorers in this environment, as well as movers, climbers, and riders. They also can act out dramatic play situations they have experienced.
In our programs we surround children with learning opportunities. We develop and grow basic academic skills through child and teacher guided activities and interactions. Our literacy and math curricula are research based, developmentally sequenced and based on skills that lead to success in school and beyond. As teachers identify children’s interests, strengths and level of development, they add materials to the classroom and design engaging activities incorporating language and literacy, math, science, visual and performing arts, physical, health and safety concepts and skill building.
Transition to Kindergarten
Moving from preschool to kindergarten is one of the biggest milestones for children and families. Because our programs establish partnerships with elementary school teachers we plan events, visits and information exchanges to make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. Our teachers work closely with families to identify each child’s readiness profile and offer simple at home activities that families can do with their child to support the learning in the program and continued growth of the child.
Families are an integral part of our programs. We have an open door policy and value input and involvement that result in partnerships and continuity in the child’s home and center life.