The Valley School believes that the preschool years are those crucial years on which the foundation for all later learning is laid. Our understanding leads us to provide a program which will encourage each child to grow at his or her own rate in all areas. We offer a welcoming first school experience where each child is accepted for him or herself; there is no certain type of child we are looking for. Each child brings unique experiences, interests and personality traits. In the classroom, they are gently led from the initial world of home to feel at ease within the wider world of school, one that includes peer relationships, supportive adults, and a sense of belonging to the greater school community. [Excerpt from The Valley School Website]
The Pre-Kindergarten Day
The pre-kindergarten day is organized in such a way as to provide a sense of routine and to allow for active and restful periods. When the children first arrive, they are greeted individually and enjoy an hour of work with the materials in the classroom, as detailed above. The children are free to choose their own areas of interest, but the teacher provides guidance so that the flow within the room is comfortable.
A limit of children at one time at such areas as the block and housekeeping nooks allow for all the children to have ease of access to materials. After this first work of the session has taken place, the children are ready to join in a circle for songs, a story and snack. Then it is time to go outside to explore in what we like to think of as our "outdoor" classroom. We go outside in most weather, a light rain included. Children need to wear comfortable warm clothing that can take a bit of sand and mud.
We stay outside for thirty minutes, sometimes longer if the children are wishing more time. When we come inside, the children come to the circle again for our theme time. We explore together our current topic of interest. This may involve looking at signs of the season, learning about transportation, studying a community helper such as the fire fighter, exploring a holiday, or learning about our bodies, new babies in our family, farm animals, whales, or the rain forest. Our topics may vary from those within our classroom to others further away. Each topic is chosen to reflect something real in the child's world. A display of items related to the topic helps to hold our interest and to be a place to highlight related materials. We talk about what we are learning, show pictures, and read books related to the theme. Creative dramatics has a place here.
After our group times of theme and related activities, the children have a quiet settling down time when they draw in blank notebooks. At this time, the children are encouraged to tell the teacher a story about their drawing if they so desire. These stories are recorded in the children's books and are important records of their developing mastery of oral language.
In summary, our pre-kindergarten program maintains those standards upheld by the classic tradition of a developmentally appropriate early childhood education. We realize that while technology and times have changed, young children have not. We believe that the best way to prepare children for a challenging future is to give them a secure beginning from which to proceed. [Excerpt from The Valley School Website]