Our School Setting
Play is a central aspect of our Preschool Program, so we make use of both our indoor and outdoor spaces for education. Because children learn by doing, we allow each child lots of time to explore, create, and learn about the world around them. This gives them a strong foundation for their educational career – but it just feels like fun!
“Respecting children and the space they learn in should be the number one concern when choosing a preschool.”
-Meredith Magee from Home Grown Friends
When children are free to use a variety of art materials, they learn to make choices, practice thinking skills and be creative. The process of working with the materials is more important than what is actually made. Children make choices as they select paper, particular colors of paint and experiment with the way the paints are applied. Children get a different perspective with an easel rather than on a table.
SCIENCE AND MATH
Children’s interest grows as they think about every day items in new ways. Counting shells, sorting leaves by size or shape and classifying rocks by type are examples of ways young children can do here. We can help them explore by providing names of items and asking questions such as, “How are these alike?” “Different?” “Which is bigger?” “Smaller?”
As children explore books on their own or with an interested adult, they begin to notice that print goes from left to right and top to bottom, that pictures often tell a story and that the story stays the same as it is read over and over. Listening, paying attention, sequencing and thinking skills are all being used as children enjoy a story. Children become acquainted with new vocabulary words and the style of formal written English as they listen to stories.
When children are free to use a variety of art materials, they learn to make choices, practice thinking skills, and be creative. The process of working with materials is more important than what is actually made. Children make choices as they select paper, colors of paint, and experiment with the ways paint is applied. Children develop a vocabulary of descriptive words like: soft, hard, squishy, smooth, rough, striped, and checkered.
Soapy water is a favorite with our children. The water is changed before each class and will vary in color. Children are encouraged to put a smock over their clothes to keep them dry and to mop up any spills that occur during play. Besides being fun to play with, soapy water builds a foundation for the science concepts density (as they see what objects float and sink), volume (as they experiment with pouring water from one object to another), and color mixing (as they transfer water from one tub to another).
As a child builds with blocks, he/she is developing control of the small muscles in the fingers and hands as blocks are added to the structure. Understanding size, weight, and shape is developing and language skills are growing as children discuss what they are building. Cooperation and planning skills develop as children work together toward a common goal.
At MCP, we go outside everyday possible – unless the weather is severely cold or too wet. We spend at least 30 minutes during our morning session and 30 minutes during the afternoon session on our playground. If the playground is too wet, we go for walks on Allegheny College’s campus as a fun walking adventure!
There are two crucial reasons we want to get our children outside as much as possible. First, there are so many developmental skills that the children can practice and achieve – exploring, risk taking, social skills, problem solving, fine and gross motor development and so much knowledge about nature and science. Second, it is wonderful exercise and a way for children to be able to expend energy that can help them be not only more physically healthy, but also emotionally strong! Children need to run and be active to focus and be successful throughout their day. Read more about the importance of outdoor play here!