The Village School Preschool Curriculum
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.” Rachel Carson
The Village School provides a warm, safe, supportive, nurturing environment for three, four and five year old children to grow and become themselves. Teachers are facilitators, gardeners and role models, providing positive reinforcement, encouragement and feedback for the children. The preschool teachers have many years of experience working joyfully with children.
The outdoors is the preschool classroom.
Children are at home in nature. Like the Forest Kindergartens worldwide, Village School preschool children engage in imaginary play, develop gross motor skills, try physical challenges, develop friendships and learn fearlessness, all outdoors, all the time. Children climb rocks and trees, dig in the sand, ‘cook’ in the mud, hike in the woods and connect with nature daily. Whether rolling in leaves in the fall, sledding in the winter or looking for bugs in the spring, outdoors is where preschoolers love to be!
Children are outside in all kinds of weather. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Children dress for the weather in warm layers, with the outer layers water and windproof. In very cold or very wet weather, children are brought in the indoor classroom for sanck and story. Afterwards, layers are put on again and the class resumes play outside.
“Play is the child’s work.”Maria Montessori
PLAY is the center of the preschool curriculum. Through play, preschool children are learning at an accelerated pace in three central areas: physical, emotional and intellectual.
- Physical development: they are developing large and small motor skills, by climbing trees, by swinging, by stacking wood, by sledding and jumping, by painting, by holding crayons and using scissors. They learn to pour, measure, and to handle beans, seeds, sand, and water. By watching each other and the adults around them, they imitate and practice new skills. They are learning to inhabit their growing body and use it as an effective instrument.
- Emotional development: Children learn social skills and communication in the constant interaction and negotiation with other children, and from the encouragement and example of the adults around them. Imaginative play feeds the emerging feelings. Learning self-help skills, such as getting dressed by themselves, fosters confidence and independence. Art and music feed the imagination and the emotional life.
- Intellectual development: In play, children count, sort, rehearse stories, learn language, and enact their version of the world around them. At this age, children learn from “hand to head,” so that memory is permanently imprinted with the results of any physical activity. Mental capacity is increased as children explore the world around them, taking in myriads of new impressions.
Teachers value play. It is during this time that children explore the world around them, interact with peers, learn to solve conflicts, communicate with each other, learn to share and make friends. Teachers observe, listen, help resolve conflicts, redirect if necessary, and ask open ended questions to ignite the thinking process.
Young children love to hear a story read aloud. Books are always on hand outside.
Story of the Week
Each week a carefully chosen story is told to the class, a folktale or animal story. In the beginning of the year the stories are simple; for example, Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Three Little Pigs. By the end of the year, the attention span has stretched to be able to take in stories such as Peter and the Wolf and Stone Soup. Each day of the week the story is presented in a different way. On Monday the story is told out loud, on Tuesday the story is told using a flannel board, on Wednesday a puppet show is performed, on Thursday the story is read from a well-illustrated book, and on Friday the children act out the story themselves. The repetition allows the children to internalize the story, follow plot, and master sequencing. The values of our culture are imbibed through story, without the need for explanation. Children love story.
Each preschooler is paired with a 3rd – 6th grade reading buddy. The reading buddies visit the preschool once a week and read to and share books with their preschool buddies Throughout the year these friendships are fostered in many ways; the buddies sit together at All School Sing each Monday morning, work together on Harvest Day, write poems together during Poetry Week, play together on Field Day, at the Teddy Bear Picnic and in the playground.
A Royalston librarian brings new books in for a “library” experience twice a month. Children can “check out” books for the classroom library. Children’s literature is highly regarded by the Village School preschool teachers.
This is one of the most important reasons for children to attend preschool. Learning to make friends and resolve conflicts are important lifelong skills ! Learning to be a member of a community is an essential part of preschool life. The children are building social skills with daily interactions with other children and through the modeling and encouragement of teachers.
learning is integrated into play, with counting and learning one-to-one correspondence. Math conversations take place daily !
takes place at least once a week in the preschool. Children participate in measuring, mashing, mixing, chopping and tasting their freshly prepared snack. Children learn to take turns, practice fine motor skills, and work with the sense of touch and the sense of smell. Children are more likely to try a new food if they have helped prepare it. Many math conversations occur at cooking time.
The children sit down for a prepared snack daily, much like a family gathers for a meal, an opportunity for learning self-help skills, tasting new foods and sharing with friends.
Science comes alive for children in daily nature exploration. Many of the classroom weekly themes relate to nature and the seasons, such as trees, leaves, snow, wind, butterflies, oceans, pond life and more. The children work and play in the garden and observe the growing cycles of plants and animals. The class goes on nature walks in the woods surrounding the school.
Singing feeds the emotional life of children. The children sing daily at circle time, where they also learn to listen, stretch their attention and build memory. Children love to go home and teach songs to their families. The children also use rhythm instruments, songs with movement, and dance to connect their bodies to the basic elements of music. Weekly sessions with our music teacher include listening activities and the introduction and playing of instruments.
activities are offered every day in the preschool, with emphasis placed on the process. We use open-ended exploration such as finger-painting to allow the child to enjoy the feel of the slippery paint between their fingers, and to make multiple pictures. Individual creativity flourishes in this atmosphere. The outdoor easels are open, weather permitting. Children love to mix colors. Natural materials are set out, such as wool, bark, beans, and seeds. Children are encouraged to draw, cut, paste, collage, and work with clay or play dough.
Parents and teachers work together as a team. Parent/teacher conversations take place frequently at arrival and departure times. Parents are encouraged to share their talents and skills in the classroom. Parents have the opportunity to get to know each other when attending Parent Group meetings and when participating in field trips.
“Children are 100% employed, all the time.”Raffi