Infants learn through their senses and by exploring their environment. In order for them to successfully explore their environment, they must feel comfortable, loved and safe. Once an infant feels secure they are ready to explore and learn. Our staff is here to work with you to provide a schedule and environment that best matches your parenting style and preferences. Our first goal is to insure a loving and safe environment and to work with parents to recreate as many of the structures from home as possible in order to prepare the infant to be ready to learn. We provide a play based and sensory rich environment and activities that promote development in emotional, social, oral language, fine and gross motor skills and cognitive skills.
Toddlers learn best through play and exploring their environment. A toddler’s greatest need is love, to feel secure and to be kept safe. Before any real learning can take place, these needs must be met. We offer a safe and loving environment for our toddlers. We encourage them to explore and are there to support their attempts to try new things. When toddlers feel secure they are ready to learn and with toddlers it begins with their mastering control of their bodies.
Toddlers are in the sensory motor stage of development. Development is a series of steps and stages that build on each other to ultimately bring a child into adulthood. Because the stages build on each other, each stage is very important. In the sensory motor stage the toddler needs to have many opportunities to push and pull and act on objects. They develop confidence that they can control their body. When a child has control over their body, they are better able to focus and have a longer attention span. Between the ages of 12 to 18 months a toddler will begin a period of trial-and-error experimentation. For example, a child may try out different sounds or actions as a way of getting attention from a caregiver. Children begin to develop symbols to represent events or objects in the world in the final sensory motor stage. During this time, children begin to move towards understanding the world through mental operations rather than purely through actions.
The curriculum focuses on language arts and literacy, mathematics, social and emotional development, and gross and fine motor development. Through theme based learning centers and activities the children are provided opportunities to develop these skills.
Children at this stage should be adding at least 300 words during this time. Our teachers encourage oral language by labeling the environment, providing lots of opportunity for conversation, repeating the child’s attempts and then modeling and adding to their attempts. In mathematics teachers set up play experiences where children will make a one to one correspondence which is the bases for counting. For example, in house keeping the teacher may have a tray of pretend cookies and a spatula. The teacher would then talk to the child and show them one cookie on one spatula. She will model and then talk the child through the play. The child is motivated to practice because it seems like play, but the teacher knows that this is really practice for naming a numeral to one object and a necessary benchmark that later mathematical concepts will be built upon.
Learning centers and activities are play opportunities that are designed to teach or practice a benchmark. Children will attend and practice longer when the bench mark is “hidden” in the play activity. An example of a play opportunity that has a bench mark embedded would be the teacher who freezes plastic dinosaurs in large blocks of ice. The children are given play hammers and asked to hammer the ice to free the animals. When they hammer they are building fine motor muscles in their wrist and fingers that are necessary for writing and correctly holding a pencil. Because they perceived the activity as play and found it exciting, they practice the skill for much longer.
In the three year old classroom we offer learning centers and activities that focus on benchmarks in language, literacy, mathematics, learning about their world, and fine and gross motor skills. Our benchmarks are embedded in play and learning center activities. We know that children who perceive an activity as play will practice the benchmark for a longer period of time and will have greater focus.
For example, the teacher may set up a tray task where a tray is filled with baking soda. The child will be given safety glasses, colored vinegar and eye droppers. The teacher will talk with them about how chemicals will react. Sometimes when we mix two things there is a reaction. The teacher will demonstrate how to use the eye dropper to drop vinegar on the baking soda. The child will see the colorful bubbles that will be created by the reaction. The teacher will talk the children through the activity. The children are practicing their fine motor skills of using their fingers in a way that will prepare them for writing and correctly holding a pencil. They will practice longer because the activity is very motivating.
Children in the three year old class will participate in extended circle time that focuses on calendar math, print awareness and pre-reading skills.