Back to Wakefield Preschools

Smart Start Preschool Alternative

Conveniently located between URI and Downtown Wakefield
Wakefield, RI 02879

(401) 524-6120


Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Montessori

From the Director:

Children “play” at activities to learn the alphabet and letter sounds, numbers and simple math, and to master early writing skills. Each week has a theme that relates to the stories we read, the letter of the week and the games or craft projects we may do. Computer time, working with educational software, is included. Each child receives a written Daily Report that details what was taught that day. Furthermore, our program measures each child's development in twice yearly written progress reports. Multi-Age Grouping This term refers to grouping children so that the age span of the class is greater than one year to emphasize the goal of using teaching and curriculum practices that maximize the benefits of interaction and cooperation among children of various ages. Social competence develops for older children out of their roles as teachers and nurturers, and for younger children out their opportunity to observe and model the behavior of their older classmates. In a multi-age group, younger children are capable of participating and contributing to far more complex activities than they could initiate if they were by themselves. Once the older ones set up the activity, the younger ones can participate, even if they could not have initiated it. Every method of grouping children has risks. Single-age groups create pressures on children and teachers to expect the same knowledge and skills from all children, in groups of children with a wide age span, the range of behavior and performance likely to be accepted is wider. Research on mixed-age grouping suggests that in spite of its risks, the potential advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Is class size an important influence on the quality and educational effectiveness of preschool programs? Teachers and parents generally believe so. Common sense suggests that smaller classes and higher staff child ratios are better for young children, allowing more individual attention, reducing the time and effort devoted to classroom management, and reducing the number of stressful interactions

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Computer time is included with one-on-one instruction. Musical instruments are explored in open-ended, child-inspired activities and teacher instructed activities. Cooking is also included regularly.

From the Director:

Program Goals: • To recognize and accept that each child learns at their own pace and has their own learning style • To foster the child’s independence which enables them to feel good about her/himself • To teach appropriate social skills and manners with peers and adults • To foster a natural love of learning • To teach children to value and respect the people and materials around him/her Mon.-Th. in Detail: Once all the children have arrived, our day begins with Morning Circle Time. Here, your child is exposed to many different routines designed to increase her oral vocabulary, graphing skills, social and verbal interaction skills, and his/her ability to actively participate in group activities. Every day your child will participate in challenging routines, like Show and Tell that relates to the letter of the week. As we discuss the items brought from home, we review the letter sounds heard in the objects name, discuss color and shapes and counting as it relates to the items. We discuss the Weather and choose a 'meteorologist' for the day - one child who helps complete our weather chart next to our Calendar. A calendar helper helps determine what day it is, the number of days that have passed in the month, that are left in the month, until a student’s birthday, etc. The class also works on patterning - the teacher may vary the colors within the calendar every few days to see if the children catch on to the pattern. Then we look at our Job Chart. Pre-K children are excited about helping out during classroom routines. During Circle Time, we review the Daily Job assignments. Music and Movement: Music and Movement gets your child moving while learning fun, new songs, and expand her vocabulary. Songs and poems are fun for the children, but also introduce key concepts such as letters, rhythms, rhymes, vocabulary and sound recognition. For example, once we are done singing the song, we’ll discuss words that rhyme, words that begin with similar or different sounds, certain vocabulary words, and other elements designed to foster language and communication development. These are all key tools that will help your child learn to read when he/she enters kindergarten. Written Work: The children will practice writing their name on all written work and will frequently complete activity sheets such as tracing letters and shapes, matching upper and lowercase letters, drawing lines to complete a picture, coloring, etc. Story Time: Books are an important part of our day and we’ll read stories relating to the weeks theme. The stories are discussed as we learn to recognize letter sounds and patterns that form words in preparation for learning to read in kindergarten. Choosing Time: Each day your child will be allowed “free time” to choose their activity such as the Kitchen or Costume Box, for dramatic play, or blocks and legos for building, dinosaurs and dolls for using their imagination. Children are supervised in this play to learn proper social skills like sharing and taking turns. Snacks: Healthy snacks are provided each day such as carrot sticks and milk. This provides the children with the opportunity to be exposed to new foods, and watching their peers eat often encourages them to sample something they otherwise would not be willing to try. Art and Craft projects are completed weekly to reinforce the topic we are discussing that week and help develop an appreciation of art and sense of accomplishment from self-creation. Fine motor skills are developed from the use of scissors, brushes, clay and writing tools. Computer time occurs with each child getting individualized attention at the computer playing educational games.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

A good metaphor for a multiage classroom is a path. Some students move gradually
while others move more swiftly. We encourage them to reach their potential, but we also recognize that where they are on the path may not be where others of the same age are at a particular point in time. Where they are depends on a number of factors that require attention to the abilities and needs of each student. Children are worked with individually throughout the day in order for constant re-evaluation and development of new challenges. Parents get constant feedback and early intervention resources are made available if needed.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Mission Statement: To provide curriculum based on RI Early Education Standards that moves your child ahead developmentally, prepares them for school and teaches important social skills in a nurturing, small group setting.

The Smart Start difference: Compared to larger for-profit Preschools, Smart Start is a fraction of the cost. (Other local programs charge between $12 and $16 hour if enrolled for two mornings per week with additional fees and up to 12 paid holidays.) Unlike other Preschools, Smart Start does not charge enrollment or annual fee and will not charge for holidays or sick days in order to encourage parents to keep children home when ill. Additionally, we provide flexibility for parents to increase hours into the afternoon permanently or just when the need may arise.

A Typical Day

Letter “Rr” Week
This week we’ll play and learn through the following activities:
Literacy/Nature & Science: Read about how rainbows are made. Talked about the water cycle and why it rains. Read Toby’s Rainbow Clothes, Rudy the Rhinoceros, Raise the Roof and Road Roller Saves the day. Read facts about reptiles, rhinoceros and rainforest animals.
Literacy/Numeracy/Gross Motor/Game: Alphabet & numeral block hunt/race. Some children practiced number and letter recognition/sounds, those who already know most letter sounds worked on identifying words that begin with the letters. Played red light/green light. Rolled and rabbit hopped on mats.
Art: Painted rainbows with finger paints, rabbit plate craft.

Fine Motor/Literacy: Letter sound worksheet. Writing R’s on chalk boards at circle. Some children working on writing name in lower case letters.

Music & Movement/Gross Motor/Games: Sang all the verses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and did the bunny hop to Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Running races and played Ring Around the Rosie outdoors. Played Rainbow Color Hunt- collecting items of the colors we spun on the spinner. Matched the quantities to the numerals on our calendar.

Math/geometry/teamwork: Looked for rectangle shapes in the room. Used blocks to make squares into rectangles, counted how many we could use to build a rectangle tower using large cardboard blocks while working together.

Snack: Raisins, rectangle shaped crackers.


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year