We are a preschool dedicated to the belief and understanding that children learn best through play. Play is the active engagement by children in building an understanding of the world around them. They work hard to gather information, test ideas, solve problems and become critical thinkers. This learning takes place as they are engaged in building with block, in painting at the easel, in putting together a puzzle, in constructing things with small manipulatives and in organizing cooperative pretend play. The skills and concepts gained through this effort provide the base for future academic success. We strive to ensure that all children gain the early literacy and numeracy skills that are appropriate to their age and development. This learning takes place within their self- initiated and open-ended play.
The Office of Early Childhood in Connecticut has developed a document, The CT Early Learning and Developmental Standards, which provide the outline for what young children should know and be able to do. We use this framework as a guide for developing our curriculum, designing our classroom environment and setting our daily schedule.
Each day at school is made up of several components. While the length of these components and the specific order in which they take place vary between the classes, they reflect our core practice for all children.
Free Play – The majority of a child’s time at school is spent engaged in this activity. Teachers work to present both familiar and new materials for the children to work with. These often include art activities, board games, small manipulative work and topic related projects. In addition the classroom environment is open. Children may choose where to work; from the block corner to the dramatic play area. They move freely between activities and areas. Over the course of the year , the teachers ensure that each child spends time not only in their preferred activity but also exploring the wide range of options available. Teachers work alongside the children as they are engaged in this work, asking questions, helping to create challenges and enriching the play.
Small group time- These gatherings offer the children the chance to experience a more structured environment and teacher-led activities. We use these times to hold class discussions, to play organized games connected to a skill or concept, engage in music and movement activities and conduct experiments. The type of activity and its duration are determined by the age and interests of the group.
Books and stories- Each day the teachers read at least one book to the children. Books are always available during the day and children will often self-select them as an option during playtime. When reading to a group teachers share information about the structure of stories, ask children questions about the events in the story and build an understanding of the role of print.
Snack- Snacks are provided by families on a rotating basis. Each week a family is responsible to bring food and drink for the class. Children are responsible for setting the table. Snack is served family style and teachers join the children in this community activity.
Outdoors – We are committed to providing time for outdoor play every day, year round. We believe the outdoor environment provides a rich opportunity for learning. Our outdoor area offers equipment for climbing, tools for digging, balls for throwing and rolling as well as a full set of large outdoor blocks which can be used to create a wide variety of structures. Experiencing the natural world first hand throughout the year helps the children develop a deep connection to it and a growing appreciation of its wonders.
The teachers develop broad topics which are used to focus some of the activities happening during the morning and provide the content for some of the small group activities. These topics cover all domains within the CT Early Learning and Development Standards.
A sample list:
Science- animals and their environments, the weather, the seasons, plants, simple machines, the human body
Language and Literacy- story writing, the structure of books and stories, telling stories through puppets, rhyming words, letter identification
Math- counting games, matching activities, numeral and quantity matching
Social –emotional – friendship, feelings and emotions
Social studies – families, community workers
Music – songs connected to the season, to the community, to the topic of investigation