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Joyce Willett School of Dance

8108 Rowel Drive
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 335-0013


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

A theatre-arts based preschool program. In addition to ballet, tap, theatre and gymnastics students will learn age appropriate academics while focusing on fine and gross motor skills as well as social and emotional development.

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
  • We use both phonics and sight reading to encourage the children in their reading efforts: In addition, we perform plays. Students "memorize" various part of the play to perform for the parents.
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Teacher directed learning
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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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • 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
  • Balance beam, parachute,gymnastic mats and wedges
Other subjects taught Ballet, Tap, Gymnastics, Music and Theatre. Students learn basic tap and ballet skills, recital dances, and perform a play every eight weeks in which the children learn all of the roles and alternately play the parts.

From the Director:

Children all learn at their own pace. We present a wealth of material each week for the children to absorb. Since we focus heavily on teaching the arts we bring the academic learning to life (so to speak) as we dance, count, chant, play and sing. Here is an example of our goals for 4 year olds: Goals for our Four-Year-Olds: Academic: �?� Recognize and print their own first name using capital and lower case letter appropriately �?� Recognize all the letters of the English alphabet, upper and lower case, isolated and out-of-sequence �?� Pronounce a correct phonetic sound for each letter of the alphabet �?� Remember and sing simple songs �?� Remember and sing simple rhymes �?� Count by memory to 20 �?� Recognize numbers 1 - 20, isolated and out-of-sequence �?� Count with one-to-one correspondence �?� Identify basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, star, heart, cone, octagon and diamond �?� Identify simple opposite pairs: such as stop/go, tall/short, loud/soft �?� Know all basic and a few advanced colors by sight �?� Match alike objects �?� Understand the five senses �?� Know basic body parts �?� Begin to sight read basic words and short sentences �?� Sort objects by color �?� Identify the texture of an object using simple adjectives �?� Identify several animals and share a fact or two about each �?� Begin to �??develop�?? stories Social: �?� Appreciate the beauty and wonder of our world �?� Understand the need to care for the Earth �?� Know some basic safety rules �?� Sit for 10 - 15 minutes for a focused activity �?� Use words to communicate needs and feelings to teachers and friends �?� Uses words to express remorse appropriately �?� Understand that inappropriate behavior will result in consequences and be able to verbalize the behavior that resulted in said consequences �?� Explore various uses for materials in a controlled environment �?� Follow instructions �?� Develop and use good listening skills �?� Share toys and tools appropriately �?� Perform verbally or physically in front of the class as directed �?� Develop skills to distinguish between safe and unsafe situations Fine Motor: �?� Trace simple lines and shapes �?� Perform simple transference (copying) �?� Use scissors and writing instruments appropriately �?� Follow lines when cutting �?� Glue paper and other objects onto paper �?� Complete increasingly difficult puzzles �?� Balance and connect blocks to form structures �?� Work with play dough to �??sculpt�?? various forms �?� Use crayons and markers to add beauty to line drawings Gross Motor Goals: �?� Jump, hop and leap �?� Gallop with a left or right lead, forward and backward �?� Skip �?� Perform a forward roll on a flat surface �?� Perform a backward roll on an incline mat �?� Perform a donkey kick �?� Perform an angel touch (lying on one�??s stomach on the floor with feet lifted toward the ceiling - using arms to push head and back into an arched position such that head and feet touch or come close to touching) �?� Walk confidently across a balance beam without assistance �?� Catch and roll a ball across the floor �?� Perform tuck jump, straddle jump, or pike jump �?� Perform basic tap dance skills: toe tap, dig, punch, brush back, paddle, slap �?� Imitate basic tap combinations �?� Perform basic ballet dance skills: first position, second position, jump feet apart and together again, demi-plié, full turn on relevé. walk on tip toe, chassé �?� Imitate basic ballet combinations �?� Perform simple dance routines following the lead of a teacher Expressive Arts: �?� Echo short singing patterns �?� Sing along with recorded music or a teacher �?� Demonstrate simple hand rhymes �?� Echo clapped and tapped rhythms �?� Value one�??s own work as well as the work of others �?� Appreciate and attempt to avoid the personal space of others �?� Recite simple dialog �?� Express basic emotions through the use of facial expression, body language and voice �?� Imitate animals, objects, processes and individuals through the use of facial expression, body language and voice �?� Act out a specific story with friends �?� Create and demonstrate imaginary beings �?� Make-up and tell stories

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Teachers offer "one-on-one" help when needed. We often have an "extra" pair of hands and no shortage of love and patience.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

A theatre-arts based preschool program. In addition to ballet, tap, theatre and gymnastics students will learn age appropriate academics while focusing on fine and gross motor skills as well as social and emotional development.

A Typical Day

Joyce Willett Theater Arts Preschool -

We alternate "dance" days and "playground" days:

9:30 Arrival & Play Centers
9:30 Greet & Parent Questions
9:45 Singing, Rhythm & Poems
10:00 Prepare Snack
10:10 Snack
10:20 Put out Alphabet Worksheet & Crayons
10:30 Potty & Put on Dance Shoes 10:30 10:30 Ballet,tap,gymnastics and theatre class
11:30 Calendar/Story Time/Review
11:45 Core Learning
12:00 Potty & get lunch to table
12:10 Lunch and join a quiet activity:
Color, Puzzle, Manipulatives
12:40 group activity or lesson
12:50 Clean Up Time
1:00 dismiss

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

In the beginning we give the parents hand outs of our goals for the year, class calendar, weekly themed units nof study, and class list.

We have viewing windows that are always open and and comfortable waiting room in which to sit and watch (if you choose).

We have a "bring a friend" week twice a year.

At the end of each unit we present a play (from our theatre class) for the parents to view at the closing of the day.
We have skills sheets (primarily for dance and gymnastics) for each individual student. In this way we can check off the skills that we have presented and make note of the skills that the student has mastered. This sheet stays with the child at our studio and helps the next teacher provide stimulus to teach new skills that he/she can master.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation

Handling Separation: From the Director

We have extra hands and we will hold and comfort the child until ready to join in the activities.