The Allen Creek Fives class, which was piloted in 2007, provides an 18 hour week learning environment targeted to the academic needs, as well as the developing social and emotional needs, of five-year-olds. The class serves as an alternative to a full day 35 hour per week kindergarten program.
Latest Research Supports our Approach
“While our daughter did very well academically and socially, she was still having issues with separation. It was important to us to be in a place that was not only sensitive to this kind of issue, but that could help us to continue to work with her to resolve it in a healthy way.” – Mike and Maggie Marcantonio
Research consistently shows that five-year-olds are developmentally closer to preschoolers than to elementary school age children. That is why, not long ago, kindergarten used to be a year designed for young children’s’ needs to be eased gradually into school routines, with an emphasis on play learning and learning socialization skills. It is only in recent years, because of new ideas that have emphasized early academic learning goals that our demands on kindergarten-age children have dramatically shifted. Unfortunately this leaves many five year olds with less time for developing the essential skills of relating with others – of understanding, negotiation, compromise and collaboration. Yet relational and emotional skill development is among the best predictors of a child’s long-term success in development.
Emergent Curriculum and Project-Based Learning
“My son Simon attended the Fives Program. It was a wonderful experience for him. In particular, he had the opportunity to “learn how to learn” in a small, protected classroom setting with only 6 other children with whom he had the luxurious time to develop friendships. The full range of curriculum (reading, writing, art, physical movement, music) along with his favorite "free time" provided him with a wide exposure to many things.” – Susan Torrible
The Allen Creek Fives Class is an excellent alternative to traditional kindergarten programs, and for young 5’s, the year can serve as a pre-kindergarten year. With the freedom to follow their interests and passions, young learners develop academic skills by studying things in the world that interest them. Studies have shown that this type of learning, called “emergent learning,” is what best suits the five year old brain. If a child is passionate about birds, for example, he or she will want to see them, read about them, know how to write their names, draw pictures of them, categorize them, measure them, etc. In following and cultivating a child’s curiosity about a subject like birds, we are helping him or her develop, in a natural and unpressured way, skills of literacy, math, science, and geography.
Small Class Size
“We knew Jed was academically capable and could manage the longer week, but we also knew that getting adequate attention from a teacher and feeling heard was important. I knew, unequivocally, that we made the right decision, when Jed couldn’t wait for school to start. He is writing and reading with pleasure, but not pressure.” Constance Colthorp Amrine
In the Allen Creek Preschool Fives Class, small class size (of up to 8 students) ensures that a productive learning atmosphere can be established in which individual ideas as well as group exchanges can be valued and emphasized. Fives learn best when they feel valued, needed and loved by the teacher, are confident the teacher will meet their basic needs promptly, and can count on the teacher to interact with them in ways that respect their individuality. The Fives Class teacher comes to know each child well, meeting them where they are developmentally, and enabling them to reach goals that are both challenging and pleasurable to attain. As was recently reported in the New York Times, having a positive relationship with one’s kindergarten teacher is correlated not only with school success during that year, but also tends to predict future school achievement as well.
The Importance of Creative Arts
The Allen Creek Preschool Fives Class incorporates a rich creative arts curriculum. A review of 62 studies, which focused on how dance, music, drama and visual arts affect student achievement, found that children who participate in a strong arts program are likely to do a better job at mastering reading, writing and math. A creative arts teacher works regularly with Fives Class children.
Family Consultant Support
“My child loved school, loved the way she felt at school, loved what she was learning and how she was learning it. The Fives Room parents, meanwhile, formed a community, too, as a result of our twice-monthly Wednesday night meetings. At these meetings, which were led by child psychologists, we talked about the challenges and joys of parenting.”- Cathy Weinert
A family consultant observes weekly in the Fives Classroom, and meets regularly with the Fives Class parent group to explore topics of interest to parents. The family consultants for all Allen Creek classrooms meet weekly to collaborate with the teacher group. Parents, the teacher and the family consultant collaborate and grow together as they learn ways to best understand and support the healthy development of Fives Class children.