Recognizing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, our Preschool introduces children to a wide variety of experiences at an early age. Children are encouraged to explore and discover, instilling a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
In our learning environment, both in the classroom and outdoors, we integrate exploration, play, and discovery with readiness skills. Children's growth and development is measured through ongoing observation and individual assessment throughout the year.
Teachers read stories daily and encourage children to become authors and illustrators while sharing ideas. Students develop writing skills, letter/sound associations, and awareness of word segmentation as a foundation for moving to the next level of reading and writing. Students in prekindergarten begin to develop an understanding of the printed word by connecting their ideas from their drawings and other artwork with hearing and then seeing the word. In junior kindergarten, we formally introduce letters and letter sounds for use in everyday writing. For example, they use their journals to document field trips and events throughout the school year.
Children develop readiness by exploring a wide array of hands-on materials. Pattern blocks, mirrors, cubes, graphs, rulers, and everyday items are used as math tools. Children learn to recognize math symbols, identify and write numerals, and learn a common math language, which is used throughout the grades. In prekindergarten, they are exposed to a variety of concepts, learning through discovery and becoming logical thinkers. Students in junior kindergarten explore and master basic math concepts in greater depth and breadth.
The focus is for children to learn about self, build community, and help others. Teachers provide opportunities for children to learn to understand the value of the skills and ideas of others. For example, children often come together to listen and discuss all ideas in order to solve a common classroom problem. As they learn to help themselves and their classroom community, the concept is extended to the greater community. An expectation for all classes through grade 12, including the Preschool, is participation in a service-learning project.
Understanding science through exploration and discovery is an integral part of the curriculum. Through their experiences, children begin to learn about and take responsibility for the environment and their community. Students are introduced to the scientific process by our science specialist and their teachers through hands-on activities in the classroom, on our nature trail, and during field trips. These experiences are often the catalyst for reading, writing, mathematics, or social science. For example, children write in science journals to record their observations and then refer to them throughout the school year.
Students sing, dance, play games, mime, and tell stories as they learn the sounds and vocabulary of a second language. Spanish is introduced in both prekindergarten and junior kindergarten.
Storytelling, puppetry, drama, and online resources all bring books to life in Preschool. Our librarian introduces library skills and provides many opportunities to enhance a child's interest in books and reading, as well as sharing story time with the children. Families are encouraged to use the library before and after school as a resource for books and other materials.
Music and Art
Our Preschool music teacher encourages a young child's love of music through movement, singing, and hands-on activities. Basic music concepts and skills, including steady beat and rhythm, begin at this early age. We include an array of daily classroom art activities to develop small motor skills, creative thinking, and expressive potential.
Physical Education and Outdoor Activities
The Read Gymnasium for Preschool and Lower School students provides the setting for regular physical education classes with our physical education specialists. Children also enjoy daily free play together in outdoor and indoor areas. Our outdoor playground equipment is designed to help young children develop balance and coordination and conquer challenges. Field trips and ice-skating lessons, held in the on-campus Uihlein Ice Arena, are included.
Family-style dining provides opportunities for children to socialize and practice their good manners with classmates and teachers. We offer many healthy eating choices and our dining room is nut-free.