Click here to view a slide show of the Early Childhood program.
The Kindergarten is a lively bridge between the preschool and first grade. Five-year-olds are awakening to the world around them with exuberance, humor, strong emotions and opinions, and the urge to express themselves by talking, moving, drawing, writing, counting, and playing – sometimes all at once! It is an exciting and magical time to be alive.
A significant amount of time and attention is devoted to helping children communicate with others. Seeing the Light in ourselves and others is modeled and practiced. Safety, kindness, and friendship are modeled and practiced again and again. We listen and model language the children can use to express their needs with respect for self and others, and we help children listen to each other.
One important class focus is helping children develop a sense of place through immersion in nature and in the communities of which we are a part. Spending time in a natural setting leads to richly extended and often imaginative units of study that involve asking and recording questions, finding resources to look up information, using art to making representations of what is being learned, experimenting, and conversing. The reverence and excitement generated builds a sense of stewardship that we hope lasts a lifetime.
Role-play, fantasy, and creativity are alive and well, both inside and out. When children use a large log on the beach as their own horse or boat, they help their minds develop in wonderful ways. Inside, props, puppets, and art materials are available for children to stretch imaginatively. Storytelling arises and writing is suddenly contagious.
Our kindergarten provides ample opportunities for both creation and reflection. Regular access to art materials throughout the day offers opportunities for literacy, authentic problem solving, collaboration and meaningful, accessible expression of children’s understanding of the world around them. Kindergartners spend time each week in the Art Studio where they explore many different media and begin to build a repertoire of skills and concepts that will carry forward as they move to other grades.
Since the best preparation for children’s continued school success is meeting them at their current stage of development, not starting the work of older children sooner, we embed “school learning” in play. Teachers introduce new learning from all the disciplines of school – language and literacy, math, science, social studies, art, music, and movement. As in the preschool, the agenda may be more evident to the teachers than to the children. Teachers carefully observe students for signals that they are each ready to be nudged forward while offering a program that is enriching and motivating.
Parents are important partners in their child’s PreK-K experience, with regular communication encouraged and welcomed. The relaxed morning drop-off time and pick-up in the afternoon lend themselves to frequent checking in. Email, notes, and conferences are other important avenues.
The daily schedule is predictable, but flexible. Children are neither rushed not delayed by a clock. All times, except 8:30 and 3:00 are approximate.
8:15 Arrival and free choice time in the classroom.
9:00 – 9:30 Morning Meeting
9:30 – 10:15 Learning Centers: Children are invited to explore appropriate materials introducing math and literacy skills. Children also explore materials to foster creativity and sensory discovery.
10:15 – 10:45 Communal Snack
10:45 – 12:00 Outdoor adventure: This is a time of free exploration outside. We explore different areas of the island. We spend enough time at each location for children to find their own special places.
12:00 – 12:45 Lunch
12:45 – 1:00 Transition time into quiet/nap time. Children have journals and books, and the teacher reads chapter books.
1:00 – 1:30 Quiet or nap time
1:30 – 2:30 Free exploration inside. Many materials are available for imaginative and creative play. Art supplies, puzzles, books, tools, and life skills activities are also available, and the teacher will assist as required, but leave the children to do their own explorations for the most part. Teachers observe and record. This is an ideal time for children to draw and dictate their stories. During this time, we may do group projects outside.
Specials come at different times during the day and include art, music, and physical education.
3:00 Prompt pick-up for those children not staying for Aftercare.
There is a multi-age Aftercare Program that goes from 3:00 to 5:30pm.
Mondays and Fridays differ slightly. There is an all-school meeting for worship on Monday afternoon from 2:30 – 2:50. Friday has an early dismissal for the whole school. Students not going to Aftercare should be picked up promptly at 1:45.