Allen Creek Preschool’s curriculum is based on a collaborative partnership among children, parents, teachers, and family consultants. We work together to provide a stable and sturdy beginning to the life long goals of learning productive ways to handle the everyday challenges and joys of living, loving, academic and social learning, working, and to handle all that life expects us to master. The conceptual framework for this is our emergent curriculum, in which our program planning stems from a combination of multifaceted goals of mastery for each developmental stage together with observations of interests and inspirations brought to us by our children, families, and staff. We listen to children and value their voices in affecting their experience at school, and join them and nurture them in their zest for learning cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially.
How does this translate into a typical day?
Every day in each class at Allen Creek, children know what to expect. The sequence of parts of the day is predictable, with varying content within each segment. In addition to these segments, special attention is given to transitions as a learning opportunity in and of themselves.
A typical routine might include:
Greeting time: Children join the teachers in a circle with the message board that carries announcements about things to expect that day, new materials, any visitors expected, absences, and so forth. This is a beginning literacy activity, as children learn to put together the symbols on the message board with the letters of the words next to them. It also serves to prepare the children for what to expect in their day, giving them an internal framework for what is to come.
Choice Time: Children have the opportunity during this part of the day to explore all areas of the room(s), directing their own play ideas, with support and facilitation from staff. During this time, many opportunities arise for social interactions, with teachers supporting cooperation and sharing, problem-solving and conflict-resolution, and expansion of play ideas among the children. This is a rich context for incidental learning, as teachers join children in their play.
Small Group: Teachers lead activities with smaller groups of children. These activities introduce new skills and concepts with a variety of materials and formats. Small Group time is also often led by our Creative Arts teacher, who engages the children in music, movement and visual arts learning. This creative activity provides expressive channels for emotion, serves the development of communication skills, supports social learning, multi-sensory skill development, and integration of different modalities of learning.
Snack: Children sit down together with teachers daily for a nutritious snack. As some of our students have severe allergies, we are careful in our choice of snacks. We generally serve a broad range of fruits and vegetables, with various crunchy and protein accompaniments. We consider snacktime an important social learning context, including the development of self-care skills. For example, even our youngest toddlers proudly learn to pour water from a small pitcher into their own cups, clear their places, and wipe their own spot at the table.
Circle: During this large group time, many kinds of activities take place. For example, teachers may read or perform a story; we often sing songs, play instruments, and dance. We also teach large group games, such as Red Rover, as developmentally appropriate. It is in circle time that children experience most the benefit of their participation as a group member, balanced with their individual interests and needs. As the children get older, they learn to sustain attention, listen to their peers and wait their turn to speak, and take pleasure in a group activity.
Outside Time: Children play outside every day, unless it is raining hard or below 20°F. This essential large motor outlet offers physical skill development, different imaginative opportunities, and social interactions with a different kind of energy than inside. Safety is assured both by teacher supervision and intentional instruction that helps children learn to keep themselves safe. Each season provides new opportunities for gardening, leaf raking and jumping, and snow play. Outside areas are incorporated in our science instruction.
Goodbye Time: Every day we take the time to close the day as a group, saying goodbye to each child. In our All-By-Myself classes, children are dismissed individually to their parents or caregivers.
Teachers work together to provide educational and social activities that strengthen children's curiosity about the world and people around them, and help develop emotional muscle© to meet the challenges of working with others whose values and beliefs may be different from their own.