Children are learning at a tremendous rate from ages 3 to 5. Physical skills, communication skills, self-control skills, and mental skills develop rapidly. At the same time, imaginations are wide open, taking in a myriad of new impressions.
A table is opened, and it is full of birdseed. The children gather round, eager to touch it, to pour it, to make shapes, to judge the weight of it in various containers. One child will push in, another will try to exclude him. Adjustments are made, and a teacher may join in to help facilitate communication. Another child suggests a new game with the birdseed, and they all eagerly take off in a new direction.
Preschool children need structure and freedom, wisely balanced, so they can continue to learn at their own pace, safely, and with others. To that end, the Village School preschool follows a simple schedule, one of free play, a gathering circle including singing, poems and finger plays, open ended art projects, clean up, snack, story and outdoor play. The weekly theme follows the seasons: apples, leaves, wind, pumpkins, snow, and so forth. Teachers strive to include nature as an integral part of the classroom, in tune with the seasons.
The story of the week is a strong feature that begins in preschool and is continued throughout all the grades at the Village School. Story feeds the imagination and builds language skills at the same time. The story is usually a simple folktale, often about animals, from stories all over the world. (For example: The Three Bears, Ashputtle, Henny Penny, etc.) On Monday, the children hear the story being told by a teacher. On Tuesday, the children will hear and see the story in a book. On Wednesday, they will see it on a flannel board, or as a puppet show, and on Thursday, the children will enthusiastically act it out, in their own way.
An afternoon program is available for preschool students. The afternoon program is loosely structured, with more time available for individual projects and group play.
Because a mixed group of 3 and 4 year olds requires a fair amount of individual attention, the Village School has a ratio of 2 adults to 12 children in the preschool.