Toddler 1 and Toddler 2 Classes
The youngest of the classrooms, the toddlers are just beginning their preschool experience. For many, this is the first time they separate from their primary caregiver. The teacher develops the trust with smiles, reassurance and routine. The day involves simple exploration and investigation using all the five senses and an easy give and take between teacher and child. The toddler begins to enjoy the company of other children and transitions from parallel to group play, which encourages language and social interaction. Various centers such as art, dramatic play, science and blocks offer choices for learning through play. The child-centered curriculum includes a brief group time with stories, fingerplays and songs. With suitable opportunity for play, both indoors and out, the toddler’s day is full of experiences for growth and learning.
The Primary classroom design allows for more defined centers and exposure to print and materials that they are developmentally able to use and understand. There is greater interest in a variety of activities, such as dramatic play, that encourages more language and conversation with peers. Gross and fine motor body movement becomes more controlled. Since the hands are becoming more skillful, the writing center is introduced with materials to use and create with. Books continue to be a major play interest and with the attention span increasing, they like to learn about areas outside their home life. Group time becomes longer, based on a curriculum that is child-centered and includes music, art, and stories. The child is becoming more self-regulated and independent with routine tasks.
Junior 1 and 2 Classes
These classrooms offer many opportunities for more extended periods of cooperative play filled with imagination and conversation among peers. The three and a half to four year old child begins to integrate language with action, forming friendships while working together. Due to the increase in attention span, they are able to focus longer in a single area of activity. The curriculum time is increased with topics they are curious about, along with more exposure to word and letter recognition. More complex and challenging manipulatives (physical tools of teaching that engage students both visually and physically, like blocks, coins, puzzles, etc) are available, along with increasing personal responsibilities. We continue to teach and model self-regulation with periods of activity and quiet. The math, science, dramatic play, block and writing centers offer a multitude of choices for the developing child to engage in.
Twice the size of a normal classroom, the Pre-K class provides an environment rich in educational material for those children with various and emerging levels of aptitude for learning. All centers are generous in size as well as two free art areas, where the child has a choice of many different materials and tools to create whatever they choose. The science center overlooks a garden with a bird feeder and bath cared for by the class. A loft area is often used by itself as a center or incorporated into the dramatic play center, which has been staged as many things, from a farmers’ market to an ice cream shop to a jungle. A library quiet area not only provides books, but also puzzles, small manipulatives, and ‘books on tape.’ The room is print rich, with vocabulary on walls and posters, as well as having students’ names appear in at least two areas of the room for recognition and tracing. Pencil and paper are available in the science, dramatic play, and the writing center, offering opportunities for children to write words associated with the child-centered curriculum. As with all our classes, the curriculum is developed by the teachers. However, in Pre-K the themes are more varied and in-depth due to the developmental age of the children. The students work on such skills as independence, taking care of personal needs, conflict resolution, and cooperative play. Some children may be in this room two years as they prepare for kindergarten.