Typical day in our Preschool program

We’re licensed to teach children ages 2 years 9 months to six years old. Our preschoolers, who are 3 or almost 3 at the start of the school year, are the youngest students in school. Some have attended playgroups, family day care, or church school, but for many, this is the first time they’re part of an organized school program that meets several times a week. For some, it’s also the first time they’ve ever been away from a parent or caregiver all morning. That’s why our preschool curriculum is geared to making the children feel safe, nurtured, independent, and capable all on their own.

The preschool classes typically spend their whole morning together with a lead teacher and 2 teacher assistants. They begin with an hour of free choice time in the classroom: playing with toys & games, building & sensory materials, and exploring the dramatic play area. During this first hour, they also create a directed art project that allows them to creatively represent an aspect of the theme the class is exploring that week, and open ended art activities are also available. During this part of the morning, the teachers are facilitators of the children’s play, encouraging them to broaden their exploration of materials and building language by tying vocabulary to their actions.

During the second hour of the morning, the first thing the children do is put away the learning materials in preparation for Circle Time and snack. Clean-up is a learning experience, too, because it gives children practice in cooperation and responsibility. We make it fun by turning it into a game of sorting, counting, or carrying the toy boxes when they’re finally full. The children also use the bathroom and wash their hands. Most of our youngest students are still mastering bathroom skills, so gaining independence is a real accomplishment!  We help the children by coaching them in what to do, encouraging their efforts, and offering assistance before they have a chance to get frustrated.  Their growing self-care skills include washing hands afterward with soap and water.

After clean-up and bathroom, the first Circle of the morning takes place. It’s a language-rich experience. The teacher will lead a discussion of the topic for the week, introduce a poem or song that supplements the topic, and introduce objects to the children that support understanding of what is being explored. The teacher might play a guessing game with the children, do a simple science experiment, pass around a bird’s nest, or hand everyone a magnifier so the children can learn to use them effectively. Circle time is very much geared to the attention span of the group: in the early days, it might last only 5 minutes; later in the year, the children may be able to attend for as long as 15 whole minutes. All those minutes are packed with fun and learning as the children become more aware of each other and more interested in what others have to say.

Snack takes place for preschoolers around 10:30AM when younger children are hungry and need an energy boost. The school provides a variety of foods such as fresh fruit or vegetables, dry snacks such as crackers, popcorn, or cereal mix, or even a delicious baked treat if it’s cooking day for the class. The children learn to recognize their names on plastic mugs with name labels that we wash sanitize every day. For a few minutes after snack, the children sit quietly on the rug looking at a book of their choice, as they wait for classmates to finish snack.

Then it’s on to the Big Room, everyone’s favorite indoor space. Big Room equipment varies from week to week but always includes some combination of large building blocks, climbing equipment, ball play, balance challenges and riding toys. It’s a gross motor space where children can really use their large muscles as they explore individually or play cooperatively in a group.

After using all that energy in the Big Room, the children return to the classroom for a story. With roughly 2000 fantastic and age appropriate books in our school library, we could never read them all in one year.  However, our teachers have a special knack for picking just the right story to combine information and humor, interesting language and comforting emotional vignettes. Our teachers love to read to children–and the children love to hear good books–so Story Time is a very special time at school for everyone.

Preschoolers end the day outside on the playground. We’re big believers in the benefits of fresh air and open spaces! For optimal brain development, this age group needs to swing, dig, climb, run, crawl, and slide. Thanks to parent funding, we’ve equipped our playground with structures that develop body skills and provide inspiration for cooperative group play.  We also include toys that encourage exploration, like binoculars and cameras, and we let them use familiar toys in new ways, such as playing grocery store outside with shopping carriages and pretend food.

After a full morning at school, many preschoolers are ready to go home, eat lunch and take a rest. Others have endurance for a longer day, and may stay for lunch or even extended day with a built-in rest time.  Even if they can’t tell you about their day at school, rest assured it was busy, happy, and productive in all kinds of ways.

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