Last night marked an important day in the lives of more than twenty preschool students. We are so thankful to have experienced many important milestones with them and we know that they will continue to grow and learn! The gym was filled with proud parents, grandparents, friends and family members. As we watched the children sing, recite their lines and accept their special diplomas I couldn’t help but wonder if their preschool experience will stick in their memories. We already know that research shows that a high quality early childhood education experience results in long term educational and social benefits. I know they will remember what they have learned. What I have found myself pondering is if these children will retain even more than that. So much of what happens in preschool is filled with the 5 senses. I wonder too if for these children who have had such positive experiences in their preschool years the smell of crayons, feel of playdough or sound of children’s music will bring back memories of happy times with friends and loving teachers. This reminded me of one of our first blog posts from Childcare and Education Services. Read on to see what our graduates have enjoyed.
Until you spend a day with the kids of Southern Hills you can’t fully appreciate how every moment is an opportunity to learn. Like professional educators in quality centers around the United States, teachers in the infant/toddler enrichment, preschool, after-school and summer programs carefully design each day to enhance student learning in developmentally appropriate and fun ways. With a long term goal of preparing every student for future schooling and life there is not a moment to waste! Please read the follow moments to find ways to add learning and fun to your child’s day whether it is with you or in someone else’s care.
7:00am- The first students arrive. Pulling their parents down the hall, each little one is excited to reach their classroom where a warm smile, a big hug and a fun activity await them.
8:00am- Friends continue to arrive. The smell of playdough and crayons, the laughter of children playing pretend and the sound of “The Hokey Pokey” teaching left and right assure each parent that their child will have a wonderful day. One on one time with teachers playing games is fun for students but provides staff members with the valuable opportunity to evaluate each student to ensure lessons and activities meet their individual needs. Morning snack is a great opportunity for social time and a recharge before the next activity.
9:00am- Hands raised confidently, each student tells what they know about the weather, the days of the week and more. Morning circle time is a great time for students to enjoy songs, calendar time, books, weather and more. This time helps even our youngest students understand that they are part of a community and that their class and teachers are glad to see them.
9:15am- Carefully writing his name on the chart, one student beams with pride as he shows that his favorite vegetable in the taste test is carrots. Science, math and health goals converged as students in his preschool classroom tasted different vegetables and created a graph to hang in the hallway that would show which vegetable most students enjoyed.
9:30am- Skipping, galloping and tiptoeing carry us to the library for a special story time that fits with what we are learning this week.
10:00am- Wind blowing through her hair, a preschool student takes her turn on the swings. Morning recess brings additional learning opportunities. Students outdoors are learning about signs of spring and watching for plants. Some students may “work” in their garden. Others practice taking turns and other social skills while playing. Of course recess is also a great time for teachers to help students develop their gross motor skills.
10:30- “Great job!” Faces covered in grins and fingers covered in paint, students make dots in a pointillism lesson taught by their art teacher.
11:00- “A is for Alice who met an Alligator…” Music and motion make letter recognition and phonics second nature. Students enjoy diving deep into literature, making connections and exploring language.
11:30- Scrunched up faces in attempted winks, Ms. Lacie’s class giggles as they walk through the halls winking at one another each time they see a letter “w” in the print rich environment.
12:00- “Yum!” Steamed broccoli, baked chicken, wheat bread and grapes are passed around the table as students serve themselves. “Thank you!” Skilled little hands pour milk into their own cups as fine motor skills and manners are developing.
12:30- “Cuh….cuh aaaa….cuh aaaa t. Cat!” Curled up with a favorite book, a four year old sounds out “cat” then proceeds to tell a friend about the cat in her story. Later she will write and illustrate her own book about cats in the writing center.
1:00- A pause in the music signals the transition from one learning center to another. Slimey shaving cream on a slippery table is the most fun way to write letters, numbers and shapes. A grocery dramatic play center gives students the chance to write shopping lists, add up dollars and cents and use manners. Teachers use games like Uno to assess students in their knowledge of colors and numbers.
1:30-5- Learning continues using all 5 senses. The gym teacher works with students in all classes to play new and fun games designed to help students meet gross motor skill goals and learn to follow directions. Snack is healthy and fun. Opportunities for play designed with purpose by each teacher to meet the individual learning goals of students excite students.
5:00- The last hour of each day is filled with smiling parents as their precious child chatters about the fun filled day. What did YOU learn today?
For an infant, the day make look different but not a moment is wasted. Songs, stories, activities and more fill their day as well as snuggles. Even a diaper change is an opportunity for a song and eye contact.
Just Playing With Life
By a Southern Hills Educator
Little muscles growing strong, preparing to write and cook and type,
We’re just playing with playdough.
Spatial intelligence developing for designing, engineering and mapping,
We’re just playing with blocks.
Science, biology, ecology and dirt,
We’re just playing in the garden.
Social skills, cooperation and problem solving practiced,
We’re just playing with friends.
Envisioning my future, trying out new roles,
We’re just playing pretend.
Counting, addition and subtraction learned,
We’re just playing a board game.
Creativity flowing, confidence growing,
We’re just playing with crayons.
Large muscles becoming coordinated, preparing for a lifetime of fitness,
We’re just playing outside.
Literacy skills, phonics and words,
We’re just playing with stories.
Neurons firing, connections being made,
We’re just playing!