THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN PRESCHOOL
We are committed to educating the whole child -- head (thinking), heart (feeling), hands (doing).
HOLISTIC ~ RELATIONSHIP-BASED ~ OUTDOOR CARE
The Children’s Garden’s core, whole-child, holistic approach to the joyful way of “learning through living” is the basis of our work with children. Through the living arts, we are able to create a very natural daily life experience at school as the “curriculum”. When children experience healthy life rhythms and routines the beauty, comfort, security, and connection to the living world of nature form the basis for meaningful learning.
We believe that every child is uniquely created and we “meet them” where we find him or her in their growth, development and personality. A holistic approach to this special relationship very naturally develops the child’s individual capacities, strengthening the will and nourishing the creative, imaginative spirit within.
In our school, opportunities are continually created for children to grow socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually – indeed, a place for a child to experience the chance for success in all their efforts. Each class cohort envelopes a caring community with thoughtful “learning through living” practices empowering children to be confident problem solvers.
Continue to our Program for more information.
Our teachers create authentic, loving, safe environments that allow children to feel the warmth and connection of a small community. As well-trained educators in the living-arts, they revere home life (indoors and NOW FULLY OUTDOORS) and the caring relationship each has with the individual children in their class. Our class cohorts have a very low child-to-teacher ratio, led by a team of two fully trained teachers who consistently meet and guide their children every day.
The teaching pedagogy of our school emphasizes a nurturing, nourishing, multi-sensory, nature-based learning environment. The stimulation of the child’s imagination, sense of wonder and creativity is a high priority – a deeply cherished part of childhood we wish to encourage and protect. Teachers provide the children with the materials, space and activities to create their world and express themselves.
Multiple learning modalities are integrated into daily rhythms to create an atmosphere that is truly supportive and meaningful to each child. Opportunities for artistic expression are a constant, particularly through creative free play and handwork.
We recognize that young children learn primarily through imitation and example. With that understanding, great care is taken to provide an environment where teachers are mindfully and continually modeling behavior – that is worthy of a child’s imitation. Teachers are the steadfast presence of kind, firm nurturing guidance for each child and the whole class. As an essential part of a child’s growth and development, teachers understand healthy expectations (age/developmentally appropriate responsibilities). These expectations are established and met by teachers, allowing children the space and time to rise in what is being asked of them.
Our children make daily connections to the environment around them with their senses. They find their way to an intimate link with the natural world through daily time spent in the outdoors (now ALL the time) on our play yard and garden, as well as in the woods and fields of our beloved Grant Park. Day by day, these opportunities bring them to an appreciation for the seasons, and for the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, guided by their own experiences. Children in our 3 to 5 year old group, enjoy a full outdoor morning in Grant Park each Monday and Friday – hiking, playing and exploring, working together and eating snack. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all the children remain on site in our play yard and expanded space. Having those three days each week outside at the school, allow us to do painting, baking and handwork together.
Daily experiences of colorful nature stories and fairy tales paint a rich tapestry for the young child, encouraging a sense of wonder and close relationship to nature, her elements, and inhabitants. These stories, along with songs and verses in our daily circle time and throughout the rhythm of the day, follow the seasons and come to life in the children’s imaginations.
We believe nature-based environments and activities encourage a child’s awe and desire to care for Mother Earth.
Now that we are outside all the time, it can be said that even more myriad artistic experiences envelope a love and knowledge of the earth’s gifts – outdoor water color painting (our paint is all mineral derived and fully biodegradable), 100% natural materials for play including sand, trees, water, kitchen and yard tools, wood, beeswax crayons for coloring, wool yarn finger crochet and sewing. For surface cleaning and daily work, aromatic essential oils form the base of our own table and surface cleaner; soothing lavender and vegetable-glycerin soap washes our hands. When using the outdoor potty, each child finds the supplies they need set up by teachers, a big sink on the yard for hand-washing, with everything so simply laid out for child success and a sense of calm. This too, allows full autonomy move on to the next part of the day.
The daily snack we make together connects social rituals with sustainability in such a natural way. Daily snacks are seasonal, communal and made of organic ingredients, with every member of the class contributing to the making of their creation such as oatmeal with maple syrup, hummus & veggies, vegetable soup, fresh apple sauce and baked spelt bread. Snacks are served in the school’s stainless steel bowls or containers with emphasis on whole food for nourishment and clear water for drinking.
Teachers create Daily, Weekly and Yearly Rhythms for the Children
These rhythms provide a balanced structure for the children, allowing them to flow with ease through their time with the group, as well as meeting expectations of the environment.
What Is Rhythm?
Rhythm facilitates a means for children to feel, know and respond to what comes next (which yields joyful anticipation). It is through this knowing that children become free to create, learn and discover. The way we flow through the rhythm of our day ensures a sense of security for the children allowing them to be in the moment. Quite simply, rhythm is a kind of constant backbone to the day for everyone. Rhythm creates:
- a feeling of calm and reassuring, consistent repetition for the children
- ample time for transitions that consistently occur and happen the same way each day
- greater harmony, collaboration and less desire to “push-back”
- an appreciation for the elements of the day, the week, the season
- a desire to follow the adult as leader – holding the children, atmosphere, tone as the healthy authority with presence of heart and mind