Back to Ann Arbor Preschools

Gretchen's House I

700 Mount Vernon
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Phone:
(734) 769-4402

Website:

Philosophy & Approach

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"Gretchen’s House espouses a play-based approach to curriculum. This philosophy encompasses three aspects of learning: environments, interactions, and experiences.
Our play-based approach is based on observations that children learn by doing. Children learn and recall more information if they discover facts and answers for themselves. For example, a teacher could tell a child that 2 plus 2 equals 4. If the child repeats this fact, he or she will learn it through rote memorization. But if a teacher provides counting materials and encourages children to group different quantities of items, count them, guess how many they will add up to, and manipulate items and numbers for themselves, children will learn not only that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but they will also have acquired strategies for solving other addition and subtraction problems. This reinforces feelings of competence and confidence to approach new tasks.
Our indoor and outdoor play environments are designed to encourage experimentation with real objects and provide meaningful context. We stock our classrooms with developmentally appropriate materials that challenge children’s abilities and invite them to explore. We set up distinct areas to facilitate particular kinds of play—a tiled area for messy projects, a quiet, cozy nook for reading—but we also encourage children to make connections across interest areas. So we are pleased when a child who is building in the block area brings over a book about bridges for reference or includes play food in the kitchen he has just built.
The teacher’s role in a play-based classroom is facilitator or coach. Our activities are designed to encourage children to dive into play rather than waiting for directions. Teachers plan for a range of developmental abilities and strive to provide varying levels of challenge to meet children’s individual needs. Teachers also provide scripts for children to use when negotiating about materials and space, and redirect play that becomes unfocused or destructive.
Our approach to learning can also be described as a constructivist approach. Children are constantly building on previous knowledge and refining what they know with new experiences. This method emphasizes process over product, promotes higher level problem-solving skills and encourages children to plan, reflect, and develop self-reliance and initiative. Teachers scaffold learning by challenging children to explore concepts that are just beyond their individual comfort zones, by providing feedback and resources when children become frustrated, and by posing questions and problems that lead children to new concepts.
"
Excerpted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

"4 years to 6 years
7:15-8:45 Kindergartners arrive and are greeted by our staff. Parents may write notes on the clipboards in their child's area to relay important information to caregivers. Children may choose from a variety of ready activities. Breakfast is served.
8:45-9:30 Children choose from a variety of indoor activities.
9:30-9:50 The children gather for a brief group time of singing, fingerplays, and a discussion of open interest centers.
9:50-11:15 Interest centers are open for children's participation. These include: language, fine motor, science & math, writing, gross motor, art and dramatic play. Snack is also offered at this time.
11:15-11:45 Outside play. This may include playing on the Center playground, going for walks through the neighborhood or visiting a local park.
11:45-12:00 Transition to lunch. May include listening to a chapter from a book, singing songs, etc. Children who are enrolled in the PM program (coming from AM public kindergarten) arrive.
12:00-12:30 Lunch
12:30-1:30 Children choose from a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Children who are enrolled in the half day a.m. program leave.
1:30-2:30 Rest time. Teachers play soft music and books or other quiet activities (drawing, etc.) are available to the children. Snack is also served.
3:35-3:50 The children gather for a brief group time to discuss the their day.
3:50-5:00 Inside and outside activities are available. These often include a teacher- directed gross motor activity, such as an obstacle course.
5:00-5:45 Children help clean up play areas, continue playing games, reading, etc., until parents arrive.
2 weeks to ~12 months old
7:15-8:45 Infants arrive and are greeted by the staff. Parents may write notes on clipboards to relay important information to the caregiver, such as feeding, sleeping, pick-up etc. Breakfast is served.
8:45-10:30 Infants are engaged in stretching, cuddling and simple games, such as "so... big." They are rocked and fed before their morning nap, as needed.
Older infants have circle time, which may involve singing, storytelling or fingerplays. Infants also have interest activities such as water play, dramatic play, blocks, tunnel play or art exploration. Snack is served on a rotating basis. Children help clean up before Family Group time.
10:30-12:00 Family Group Time: Children spend small group time with their primary caregiver and other children in their family group. They may take a walk, do a special art activity or play games outside.
12:00-1:00 Children eat with their family groups in two shifts (to keep the groups small). After lunch, children read books and play quietly with teachers. Diapering occurs as needed.*
1:00-3:00 Naps: Teachers play soft music or story tapes while children sleep or look at books on their cots or mats. Infants who are awake choose from interest activities, eat, or visit with other infants and toddlers in a common space.
3:00-3:30 Children are diapered and toileted individually as they awaken. Children eat snack and get ready to go outside (if weather permits).
3:30-5:00 Outside play. Activities may include: swinging, chasing bubbles, wading in pools, sand play, playing with balls, etc. Children remain in small groups if they stay inside.
5:00-5:45 Children engage in quiet activities until parents arrive-stories, puzzles, etc.
3 years to 4 or 5 years
7:15-9:00 Staff greet parents and children as they arrive. Parents may write notes on the clipboards in their child's area to relay important information to the caregivers. Children choose from a variety of indoor activities. Breakfast is served.
9:00-9:15 The children gather for a brief group time of singing, finger-plays, and a discussion of the day's interest centers.
9:15-10:30 Interest center activities are available to the children. Depending upon the weather, some of these activities may be outside. Snack is also offered at this time.
10:30-11:45 Children spend small group time with their primary caregiver and other children in their family group. They may take a walk, do a special art activity or play games inside. This is often referred to as Family group time.
11:45-12:30 Children prepare for lunch and nap.
12:30-1:00 Quiet activities and storytelling may happen before nap time.
1:00-3:00 Children sleep or read books on their cots or mats. Teachers may play quiet music during this time.
3:00-3:30 Upon waking, children have snack and a choice of activities.
3:30-5:45 Indoor and outdoor free play. The children may also do a group activity until parents arrive.
12 months--36 months of age
7:15-8:45 Children arrive and are greeted by the staff. Parents may write notes on clipboards to relay important information to the caregiver, such as feeding, sleeping, pick-up etc. Breakfast is served. Diapering and toileting occurs as needed.
8:45-10:30 Toddlers have circle time, which may involve singing, storytelling or fingerplays. Children also choose activities from interest centers such as water play, dramatic play, blocks, tunnel play or art exploration. Snack is served on a rotating basis. Children help clean up before Family Group time.
10:30-12:00 Family Group Time: Children spend small group time with their primary caregiver and other children in their family group. They may take a walk, do a special art activity or play games outside.
12:00-1:00 Children eat with their family groups in two shifts (to keep the groups small). After lunch, children read books and play quietly with teachers. Diapering and toileting occurs as needed.*
1:00-3:00 Naps: Teachers play soft music or story tapes while children sleep or look at books on their cots or mats.
3:00-3:30 Children are diapered and toileted individually as they awaken. Children eat snack and get ready to go outside (if weather permits).
3:30-5:00 Outside play. Activities may include: sliding, climbing, chasing bubbles, wading in pools, riding bikes, playing with balls, etc. Children remain in small groups if they stay inside.
5:00-5:45 Children engage in quiet activities until parents arrive-stories, puzzles, etc.
"
Excerpted from the preschool's website