*Please note: In August, 2020 our school migrated to being a 100% outdoor morning program due to Covid-19. Our program was already operating with a strong emphasis on outdoor learning, pre-2020, so we were quite prepared to shift. As of August 2021, we anticipate going forward with our plans to be OUTDOORS at least 60% of the time and return to some indoor classroom components of the program for the 2021-2022 school year.
In addition to loving teachers, trained and experienced in living arts curriculum, our school embodies a natural and rhythmic, calm, warm, home-like environment for children to experience the world at their own pace and learn through their senses. We practice a relationship-based care model that complements home life and provides a learning environment in which your child will flourish. We recognize that human relationship and activity are essential tools for all foundational skills for life.
In early childhood, daily life experience is the “curriculum” through which children experience healthy life rhythms and routines. Meaningful activities such as circle and singing/watercolor painting/craft/story telling/baking/nature walks, nurture and nourishment with loving care and organic food, imaginative free play (FULLY outside in the 2020-2021 school year) and mixed-age activity among the classes to provide children with opportunity to be both a younger and older “sibling.”
Through imaginative free play, the groundwork for learning is founded. We see intellects grow and imaginations emerge.
Like our community of parents, extended family and caregivers, we share a love of children and a belief that all children should be nurtured and honored while being guided and given time and space to grow. We feel the ideal means to provide this for a child in the preschool setting is in small groups, with an emphasis on experience and process. Each class takes on the feel of and connection to a little village – children viewing themselves as friends and members of a caring community. Our teachers create opportunities for children to satisfy their natural curiosity and immersion into joyful learning, all while “setting up children for success” as they deepen their capacities, fostering self-esteem and confidence. Regular daily, weekly and monthly rhythms (schedule/flow) help children learn to adapt to daily routines and respond beautifully to consistency and repetition. This practice provides the children a supportive and secure environment to explore and develop their independence. The sense of certainty a child experiences in this way allows him or her the time, space and freedom to reach their capabilities.
Along with vigorous, healthy imaginative play and sensory stimulation, these are the kinds of things that provide the brain activity needed for higher learning—language development, dexterity, math skills, social skills, and creative thinking—skills that are in very high demand today:
- A variety of experiential and sensory opportunities are offered through creative play, household tasks, food preparation, nature exploration, water play, stories, puppetry, artistic expression, singing, rich language development and movement.
- Movement/play is revered and at the center of our outdoor care and learning — child-initiated activities that allow and promote healthy musculo-skeletal development by providing opportunities for unstructured, spontaneous movement in a protected environment. Games, yoga and finger-plays are also an important part of the movement curriculum as they provide opportunities for the children to imitate healthy movement, develop proprioception and increase both their small and large motor skills.
- Expanded outdoor exploration — Children need more than the “playground” experience. They need “wide open places” as so aptly described in the book The Geography of Childhood by Nabhan and Trimble. Building forts, climbing trees and going on nature walks are valued experiences at The Children’s Garden. The children go outside in all but the most inclement weather in order to help them become more robust and strengthen their bond with the environment in which they live. Plants, gardening, and animal life are part of the outdoor experience wherever possible.
- Pre-Academic skills — The foundation for reading, math and sciences is found in practical life activity and the play of the children, which mimics it. “Studies show that four, five, and six year olds in heavily ‘academic’ classes tend to become less creative and more anxious—without gaining significant advantages over their peers. Youngsters in well-structured ‘play’-oriented schools develop more positive attitudes toward learning along with better ultimate skill development” (Jane Healy, Ph.D., Your Child’s Growing Mind).
The Children’s Garden Preschool is a private, tax exempt, not-for-profit preschool serving children and their families in the Grant Park and Ormewood Park neighborhoods, Southeast Atlanta, and surrounding communities. We employ a highly experienced, professional team of educators dedicated to early child learning and nurture. Each year and from one year to the next, the school and staff continually meet the needs of families of all backgrounds, beliefs and traditions.