Children must be 3 years, 6 months by September 1, with a minimum 3 Full Day requirement
The WDS Preschool program provides a nurturing, child-centered environment where children have numerous opportunities for emotional, social, intellectual, and physical growth. Each child’s individual needs, abilities, and stages of learning are paramount in the design of our curriculum.
Our classroom has a safe and cozy feel. Respecting others, tolerating differences, negotiating conflict, learning to take turns, and sharing the role of leadership are all an integral part of our daily lives in the class. We foster independence and self-confidence; we role- model and practice the community and social skills necessary for each child to thrive in a supportive and stimulating environment.
We sing, read books, paint up a storm, play imaginatively, build with blocks, pour and fill and explore at the water/tactile table, plant seeds and observe their growth. We fashion collages; act out stories; piece together puzzles; count, count and count some more; learn to write our names; draw with crayons and markers; play outside twice a day; cook or bake weekly; take trips; and have a joyful time together every day!
Believing strongly that each child develops at her or his own rate, it is the teacher’s charge to both offer experiences and guide learning in a manner that is respectful of the child’s individual needs. Encouraging the growth of the whole child, we facilitate each child towards becoming an independent, self-assured, inquisitive learner. The confidence and pride that results from successfully doing for oneself allows the student to develop a sense of empowerment.
The leap from reality to symbol, from concrete to abstract, is a tremendous one for the young learner. Our environment encourages exploration, inquiry, and discovery through active hands-on experience and play involving the use of all the senses. Young children learn through doing and playing. Many of the materials in our room are open-ended. There is no right or wrong way of using them; they are malleable enough so that maturing and developing children can derive new meaning and benefit from them as they grow.
Classroom themes and activities are chosen and designed to integrate learning in the areas of language arts, math, science, visual arts, social sciences, and music. For instance, we take a yearlong trip around the planet Earth, beginning with our own home community and then voyaging on to each of the continents. Songs, stories, art and cooking projects, animals native to a particular area, or cultural influences are all examples of activities or areas we plan daily activities around. Working with our broader WDS faculty, these themes carry over into the children’s weekly sessions in art, science, music, library, or ‘integrated curriculum’ time.
Physical development is especially important at preschool age as children’s bodies grow so rapidly. Large motor skills develop as children run, jump, climb, and move around outdoors, as well as during movement and music activities inside. Children develop fine motor skills through drawing, using play dough and clay, manipulating small toys, cutting, spreading peanut butter on crackers or pouring water at snack time. Exercises using tools such as tweezers, eyedroppers, a screwdriver or a funnel refine eye-hand coordination. Numerous opportunities are provided, both indoors and outdoors, for children to develop and improve their motor skills. These activities are appropriate from the youngest to the oldest student.
In all we do each day, we encourage problem solving and critical thinking. The ability to compare, analyze, synthesize, generalize, and hypothesize are stressed. We want children to ask questions, effectively verbalize their understandings, and apply their knowledge and experience in new situations. Our hope is to nurture every child’s innate drive to explore, understand, and come to terms with the surrounding world, both near and far.
There are two music lessons per academic week in which students continue their musical development. The foundations of music theory are incorporated in our program and students are able to recognize different notation values by name and value. Rhythm awareness is key and is actively developed through working with musical instruments and opportunities such as The Drum Residency that the who school annually participates in. Our voice work now includes early voice training exercises and concentrates on song with a story.
Art-Creative Skills, Processes and Techniques
The emphasis of art in early childhood art education is on process over product, beginning with the most basic and progressing to more complex. Projects are guided but open-ended with instructions and demonstrations intended to suggest possible ways of proceeding. The creative art process enhances the development of important gross and fine motor skills, requiring coordination between the child’s ability to see (visual skills) and manipulate materials with the hands. It supports small muscle development and skills such as problem solving, decision making and critical thinking. Art at an early age enables our children to explore and express ideas and feelings that lead to the discovery of the world around them through an original voice. We encourage expression of ideas and feelings through experimentation and introduce different topics and themes. The language of art is introduced and practiced at a young age through the processes, techniques, and use of various art materials.
Students in the Preschool visit the library for 45 minutes once a week. In addition to developing a comfortable and positive relationship to the library, students learn and articulate that the library is a shared resource for information, literature, books, and other materials. Connections and comparisons to the public library are also developed. Central to the library experience is creating and establishing a relationship to reading through listening and telling stories. Student’s ability to read and understand text in all formats and contexts is a significant marker of success in school and in life.
Stories are selected with several objectives in mind; supporting classroom areas of study (e.g. the ocean, the continents), supporting classroom concepts (e.g migration and hibernation,) seasons and holidays, addressing social/emotional developmental concerns (e.g. making friends), exposure to different narratives and genres (e.g. nonfiction) and folktales and stories from other cultures (e.g. Ananzi from Ghana). Exposure to different narrative styles and voices, and experiencing diverse illustrations and imagery is also emphasized. Stories that are interactive and rhythmic are especially emphasized for language development and sequencing. As the year progresses so does the length and complexity of the story. Students are encouraged to verbalize predictions and link stories to their own lives and experiences.
To further an understanding of the roles of an author and illustrator, the library has hosted several author visits. Jacky Davis, co-author of the Ladybug Girl series, and Karen Katz, the author of over 20 books for preschoolers, visited with the Preschool class in library this year. Students asked many questions and were exposed to story development and the writing process through intimate conversations with the authors.
Preschool students do not check out books during library time but parents are encouraged to come to the library alone or with their children to take home books. Our picture book and early reader collection is extensive.
Click for more information about our library program and the upcoming literary extravaganza: the annual Book Fair.