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What Children Learn

Educational Philosophy

We believe that each child begins to learn from the moment she or he enters the world and that each caregiver is a teacher to that child. We are committed to working with parents, the child's first teachers, through good communication and family support. From toileting to reading, we believe that physical, social, emotional and intellectual development are as important as academic development, and that children learn best when they are ready to learn, not pushed to learn.

Consistent routine is very important to a young child. Children lose their fear of the "unknown" and build confidence when they can identify what will happen next. Students are divided into small groups, with low student to teacher ratios allowing one-on-one time between each child and their teacher. Fun, age-appropriate, theme-based activities are posted and implemented daily.

Staff members strive to understand each child's age and developmental stage. They share their understanding with parents and work on individual goals for each child. Our teachers use a child-sensitive approach to early childhood teachings. We believe that academic skills and concepts are best learned through playful, adventurous activities that invite and hold children's attention and engage all their senses. Young children develop their imaginations and thinking skills through block play, sand and water play, dramatic play, creative art and science activities. This imaginative process is celebrated and displayed, rather than with tidy, teacher-controlled products.

We delight in children's voices and movements. Where safety limits are needed, staff guide the children's behavior through positive directions and modeling. We listen to and respect children's feelings as we teach them constructive ways to work through those feelings. We encourage children's independence and active concern for others. Helping children to build friendships and learning to play and work well together is our goal.

What children learn in our program:

Social Studies: How people live, work, get along with others, shape and are shaped by their surroundings.

Literacy: Vocabulary and language, phonological awareness, letters, words, print, comprehension, books and other texts.

Mathematics: Numbers, patterns and relationships, geometry and special awareness, measurement, data collection, organization and representation.

Science: The physical properties of objects, living things, the earth and the environment.

The Arts: Dance, music, dramatic play, drawing and painting.

Technology: Tools and their basic operations and uses.

Process Skills: Observing and exploring, problem solving, connecting, organizing, communicating and representing information.

Classroom Set-up &
How Children Learn Through Play:

Library/ Reading Area

From books, children learn about people who are like them and the diversity of people who are different. By seeing that others have shared their same experiences or fears, they find ways to manage their own feelings. They develop empathy for those who have challenges and struggles. Important social skills are developed as children share books together, re-enact stories or draw cards for their friends.

Small muscles in children's hands are strengthened when they use tools for writing and illustrating. They use their eye muscles as they follow the pictures and words in a book.

They develop an understanding of symbols (relating the picture of a boy to the written word "boy"), cause and effect as they make predictions regarding the story, and sequencing as they retell stories they have heard. Children also learn basic skills as counting, number recognition, colors and shapes through books.

All aspects of literacy - reading, writing, listening and speaking - can be strengthened in the Library Area. When children hear stories, they learn new vocabulary words and their meaning, so their comprehension grows. Children develop phonological awareness when they hear and explore the sounds and rhythms of language in books. They learn how to follow the flow of print on a page, left to right and top to bottom.


By sharing and taking turns, children learn to cooperate with one another. They also develop confidence when they complete a task successfully.

Hand-eye coordination is practiced while lacing or placing pegs in a pegboard. When children string beads or construct with interlocking cubes, they refine fine motor skills.

Emerging math and geometry skills are exhibited as children count, seriate, match, pattern, and classify. As they build with pattern blocks they are experimenting, inventing and creating problem solving skills. Toys and games serve as excellent math hubs in the classroom.

Children use words to describe how they are putting together a puzzle or sorting a collection of objects. They compare the size, shape, and colors as they play. They explore letters using magnetic letters and alphabet blocks, thus developing pre-reading skills such as left-to-right progression and visual discrimination.


Children develop socially and emotionally when they negotiate for materials they want to use, care for materials, follow the rules for building safely and exchange ideas.

Their small muscles develop when they carry and carefully place blocks together to form a bridge or make an intricate design. Hand-eye coordination is improved when they carefully balance blocks.

As children experience the world, they form mental pictures of what they see. Playing with blocks gives them an opportunity to recreate these pictures in concrete form. This is the basis of abstract thinking. They learn about sizes, shapes, numbers, order, area, length, patterns, and weight as they select, build with and put away blocks. This enhances their cognitive development.

They increase their vocabulary as we give them new words to help describe what they are doing and they increase their pre-writing skills as they make signs for their buildings.


Working together to make discoveries, solve problems and explore helps children to develop socially while learning classroom rules for using materials safely and responsibly. They also take care of living things such as plants and develop bonds with classroom pets.

Dexterity and hand-eye coordination are developed as children turn gears, take apart a broken toy and pick up paper clips with a magnet. Fine motor skills are developed as they use eyedroppers to squeeze water onto wax paper or pick up a dead insect with tweezers. They measure ingredients to make silly putty and play-dough then squeeze, pull, bounce, stretch, knead and mold it all using fine motor skills. They strengthen their gross motor skills as they create shadows on a wall using their bodies or run in place to feel their pulse.

Children use all the process skills when they observe and ask questions about the world around them. They watch plants and animals with great curiosity and make predictions about how they change, move and react to different conditions. Children organize their thoughts by classifying, comparing, measuring, counting, and graphing objects. They represent their findings by drawing, writing and creating models.


To engage in dramatic play children have to negotiate roles, agree on a topic and cooperate to portray different situations. They recreate their life experiences and learn to cope with their fears as they act out situations that worry them. The theorist, Smilansky, has shown that children who participate in dramatic play show more empathy towards others, control impulses more and are less aggressive.

Children develop the small muscles in their hands when they button and snap dress-up clothes and dress dolls. They practice hand-eye coordination and visual discrimination skills when they put away props and materials.

When children set the table for a party or use play money to buy food at the grocery store, they are exploring math concepts. They also learn from one another as they share ideas and solve problems together.

Language skills are developed as children explain to one another what they are doing and ask and answer questions. They may choose the language that fits the role they are playing. When literacy props are included, they are developing reading and writing skills.


Children feel part of a group and develop social skills playing musical games that require simple cooperation such as "Ring around the Rosy" or progress to more complex cooperation such as "Farmer in the Dell". Music can lift children's spirits or calm and relax them.

They work on gross motor skills, balance and coordination by moving to the music and they explore the many ways their bodies can move. As they learn fingerplays and play musical instruments, fine motor skills are developed.

Children use logic and reasoning to figure out how to make a scarf fly like the wind or which instrument can be used to make a sound like rain or thunder. They create patterns with the words they sing or chant, with the motions they make with their bodies and with musical instruments. Children learn about number concepts as they clap their hands and stomp their feet four times or as they sing number songs. They think symbolically when they pretend to walk like an elephant or hop like a bunny.

Children develop and refine their listening skills as they notice changes in tempo or pitch of music and adapt their dancing or clapping accordingly. They learn new words and concepts through songs and practice following directions. They develop phonological awareness as they play with the sounds and rhythms of language and learn concepts about print as they look at the words of their favorite song on a chart or in a book.

NOTE: While the next three areas are considered "messy" by some, we rejoice in children's play and how much they learn.


Art is a natural vehicle for children to express their feelings. Children reflect thought and emotion through their choice of color, texture and media. Children also express their originality and individuality in their art. For example, a child may prefer a purple pumpkin simply begins it stands out in the patch.

As children tear paper for a collage or use scissors to cut, they refine small muscle movement. Making lines and shapes with markers and crayons are activities that help children develop the fine motor control they need for writing.

Children draw, paint and sculpt what they know, using thinking skills to plan, organize and select media to represent their impressions. They learn about cause and effect when they mix colors, and trial and error as they learn how to balance a mobile and weave yarn.

Children often talk about what they are making and respond to questions about their creations as they engage in art. Teachers can write down what they say about their artwork as a permanent record of the experience. Art also fosters vocabulary development as children learn and use related technical vocabulary: sculpture, palette, and clamp to name just a few terms.


Children experience a sense of accomplishment and growing competence when they spend time outdoors every day engaged in purposeful activity. You can see the sense of pride a child feels when they can climb to new heights, throw and catch a ball or complete an obstacle course. Social skills grow as children share equipment such as tricycles and shovels, work together to build a tunnel in the sandbox and follow safety rules.

Many reports suggest that children being overweight is attributed to less play outdoors, thus children do not get enough large muscle activity essential to healthy development. They develop these skills as they run, leap, hop, jump, slide and climb. These activities allow children to take new risks and try out new skills. Children also use their fine motor skills outdoors to weed a garden, collect bugs, and pour sand through a funnel.

Children explore and observe nature firsthand. They find and study the bugs, learn about patterns on butterflies, plant seeds and watch them grow, observe leaves changing colors, touch the bark of a tree, hear crickets, and smell the air after a rain shower.

They expand their vocabularies when they learn the names of insects and plants and use words to describe the characteristics of each - fuzzy, fast, shiny, hard, colorful, striped, slimy.


When children play with sand and water they often express their thoughts and feelings and can inspire a child. The fact that playing with these materials can calm a child who is agitated or upset is well documented.

Children strengthen their small muscles as they mold wet sand and scoop water. They develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination working with props as they pour water through a funnel, sift sand through a sieve, and squeeze a baster full of water. They build gross motor skills as they carry buckets of sand and water outside.

Sand and water are natural companions in scientific explorations and engage children in making careful observations, classifications, comparisons, measurements, and problem-solving activities.

Children discover that as a liquid, water can be splashed, poured and frozen. As a dry solid, sand can be sifted, raked, swept and shoveled. When children combine the two, the properties of both change: the dry sand becomes firm and the water becomes cloudy. The texture of sand changes: wet sand can be molded and feels cooler to the touch than dry sand. Children learn about volume and capacity as they fill empty containers. They explore cause and effect when they observe which objects sink and which float. They also discover that the amount of sand or water remains the same whether the container is thin and tall or short and wide.

While playing with sand and water, children expand their vocabularies as they learn words like grainy, sprinkle, shallow and sieve. They build emerging literacy skills as they write letters in the sand or use alphabet molds. Equally important, as children perform experiments in the sand and water, they routinely ask and answer questions.