Much of our curriculum is pulled from life and the environment inside and outside of our classrooms. Our outdoor classrooms boast as one of the best in Marin. Our outdoor classroom philosophy is to create a program that not only nurtures the mind and the body, but also the soul. There is much to nature in that it offers aesthetic beauty, opportunities for “caring” (insect, animals, plants, and other living things), delayed gratification (an important skill in the 21st century), and offers much more opportunity for being outside. Our area outside is full of spaces for activities such as reading, art, block play, sensory experiences, sand and messy play, bike riding, swinging, running, etc.
We find nature outside on our playground. But, it also happens to be a big part of inside of our classrooms. Each of our two classrooms offers animal life spaces so that children can learn about other creatures too. Tanks are all well maintained and provide daily conversation and activity. Kids feed the animals weekly. We also offer a number of focuses on nature. We hatch eggs in our portable incubator every year and raise two until they are laying eggs enough for a harvest and a breakfast scramble or two. Watching the chicks hatch from their eggs is amazing every single time. Extra hens are given to families who wish to start their own fresh egg set up in their backyard. Silkworms are also a part of our curriculum. Children learn the cycle of their life, their amazing transformation, and the beauty of their cocoons.
Our approach is play-based and is woven around a variety of mediums and is the curriculum of children. The playground outside is filled with opportunities to challenge the body and mind. Spaces allow for children to create and develop their play. And teachers are always available to support and extend their play and social interactions. The playground provides another venue in which to take in literacy, creative art projects, dramatic play, natural sciences and a wonderful appreciation for the world we live in. There are a variety of textures to touch and create with, areas filled with flower and plants that are visually stimulating, a variety of fragrances both spicy and sweet, and tasting pleasures with all the herbs and vegetables and fruit growing on the playground. The outside provides so many sensorial delights. Children play on our playground, explore and discover amazing things in nature every day. Children make roads, dig ditches, build mountains and bridges, bake cakes and serve ice cream, race their racing cars, fly to the moon, and take care of babies. When children play, they expand their understanding of themselves and others, their knowledge of the physical world, and their ability to communicate with peers and adults.
At times curriculum is teacher initiated. Teachers bring their talents and passions to the work they do with children and although teachers integrate children’s interests and curiosity, teachers provide the inspiration with their own interests and passions. They provide the perfect model for learning.
Teachers spend time each week to assess and reflect on activities that are driven by our assessment resource tool, PreschoolFirst. Each week new activities are scheduled that build upon prior learned or introduced skills of the following week. This curriculum is intentional, developmental and created to meet the needs of each individual child.
In addition to the typical classroom time of circle, dramatic play, reading, music and movement, science and nature, cooking, mathematics, early literacy, language, global studies, gross and fine motor activities, there are a number of enrichment classes that are offered to further broaden and give children unique and different experiences and skills to support a child’s full developmental growth. These classes are provided as a benefit to our families and are paid for by the center. Enrichment classes include Piano, Spanish, Gymnastics, Cooking, Woodwork, Sewing, Storyteller and Puppeteer. Teachers are also well aware of readiness for Kindergarten and strive to introduce skills that will help a child be ready for Kindergarten.
Children often direct us in their play, but teachers support and guide them in their interactions. This is the give and take of child and teacher interactive play and very important in helping children to expand on their language, cognitive, and social development. It is this relationship that is critical to the success of our curriculum.