Our Preschool program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education and values each child’s individuality within the context of a community. Classrooms engage in an emergent curriculum that is co-constructed by the students and the teachers. Classes take part in investigations of materials and topics that are of interest to the children and are chosen based on the teachers’ observations in conjunction with their knowledge of child development, and their objectives for the year. Through both child-directed and teacher-facilitated activities, children are given the opportunity to fully explore the world around them. A multi-sensory approach is used in order to meet the varying learning styles and developmental needs of each child. Children will engage with and express themselves through a variety of media, including, but not limited to, paint, clay, collage, music, dance, storytelling, blocks, natural materials, and recycled materials.
In the Preschool 2s program there is strong focus on transition and becoming part of a group. For many children, this will be their first time in a classroom setting and away from the one-on-one care of a parent or guardian. The teachers’ goal is to help the students begin to understand that they are part of a larger society.
Activities and daily routines will help guide children as they learn to share both materials and attention with others. Sensory explorations support student growth through whole body engagement.
In the Preschool 3s program teachers will build upon the students developing social skills as they continue to foster a respect for community. As topics of interest emerge in the 3s program, classrooms will delve deeper into explorations. Nurturing the students’ growing abilities and increasing attention spans, questions and theories will be explored from many angles. While time engaging in project work is an important part of the day, all aspects of the preschool schedule are filled with numerous opportunities for skill building and learning. Throughout the preschool experience teachers will use the developmental milestones set forth by the New York State Early Learning Guidelines as well as their own professional experiences, to provide opportunities that help each student meet age appropriate expectations and challenge them accordingly.
Consistency and predictability within the preschool daily schedule is an important factor toward building community and relationships among peers and adults alike. While there is flexibility in routine, the components of the day remain the same from class to class.
Each group participates in group conversations at morning assembly, engages in project work, and has opportunity for unstructured gross motor exercise. Ample time is also allotted for meals, play, read-alouds, rest time and bathroom breaks. Students in the preschool have a rich schedule that is augmented with music and art enrichments.
In Reggio Emilia schools, reference is often made to the Hundred Languages of Children. Reggio Emilia educators share the belief that children have many methods of communicating, including storytelling, music, art, movement, dramatic play and construction. All of these methods of communication are respected and encouraged in the schools by providing children with a variety of interesting and open-ended experiences and materials, including natural and recycled objects. When children represent their ideas with a variety of different media, they reinforce new knowledge, allow for the formation of new questions and predictions, learn to elaborate on their ideas, and strengthen their ability to communicate with others.