The Holistic Curriculum
We believe that every child is gifted in his or her own way. A holistic approach to education helps to develop the child’s unique gifts and talents while strengthening all intelligence areas. Opportunities for children to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually are facilitated through the daily classroom experience. Classroom environments envelope the practice of thoughtful, “learning through living” approaches, empowering children to be confident problem solvers.
- Our primary guiding principle is to engage the whole child
- Appreciation of daily rhythms which provide a balanced sense of structure, allowing children to feel, know and respond to what comes next
- Fostering development of the “will of a child” through setting age appropriate expectations and directions that help children learn to wait, see things through, take their turn (IE: our use of process to help the will of a child – painting, finishing crafts, staying with the circle, cutting or chopping fruits and vegetables, home making in the classroom, etc.)
- We model responsibility, respect, and compassion, fostering the same virtues in the ‘heart’ of each child (this is done through gentle guidance and meeting the child with nurture).
- Social skills developed through awareness; children experience the warmth of classroom atmospheres that encourage loving kindness and compassion, where they feel care and concern for themselves and others; we recognize that the young child learns primarily though example and imitation.
- Problem-solving skills and enhanced imaginative ability through creative free play (play is child-led, fostering ability to create and initiate without adults imposing; rather, teachers guide through the gentle power of suggestion).
- Listening and language skills through story-telling, music, verse and finger play, music, daily circle.
- Music permeates and harmonizes the school life through a curriculum designed to develop the innate musicality within each child — singing is integrated throughout the day (in transition, giving directions, purposeful song during circle, etc.).
- Motor and movement skills (fine and gross) enhanced through creative play, yoga, outside play, classroom movement activities, sewing, painting, craft work, coloring and use of writing implements in the oldest class
- Movement through the day and the very way we move (IE: counting arises naturally out of the manifold tasks and activities of the day and sensory integration takes place through joyful movement and physical activities).
- How we flow through the rhythm of our day ensures a sense of security for the children allowing them to be in the moment.
- Living skills through ownership and care of classrooms (sharing and communal activities such as snack preparation/serving, daily class chores such as table washing, plant care, table setting, sweeping, passing of items to friends, dish cleaning, care of craft supplies).
- An appreciation of nature through awareness of the seasons, celebration of festivals and other integrated themes; “green school” practices (IE: reusable living items from home and in classrooms, recycling and composting in each classroom, cloth cleaning use, and use of non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products).
- Fostering a love of lifelong learning and discovery.
The Physical Environment
Children love to learn about themselves and the world around them. As they become independent, children make discoveries, creatively solve problems; they make comparisons and experiment. Both the classroom and play garden are equipped with materials and supplies and that are familiar to children and which provide opportunities for a range of creative learning.
- Classroom design and physical environments come in relaxed colors with natural wood furnishings
- Art and craft supplies include nature based supplies that encourage children to immerse themselves in creative exploration (IE: bees wax crayons, modeling bees wax, wool fleece, yarn and felt, treasures of nature)
- Nature tables are part of each classroom, reflecting the color and feel of the seasons and the outside world; things from nature walks may be gathered to bring into the class to enhance exploration and use of natural materials (IE: abandoned bird nests, logs, limbs, pine cones, rocks, etc.)
- Creative play furnishings and materials in each classroom provides opportunity for child-led imaginative play which fosters individual expression, independence and cooperative action with peers (IE: dolls/gnome house, play kitchens, play frames, creative play items, props and play silks); classroom equipment is made from natural materials
- Manipulative play materials encourage skills development in fine motor, logic, hand-eye coordination and creative representation (IE: wood tiles & blocks, sewing, finger crochet, beading, puzzles, games, doll/gnome house); development in gross motor, balance and will of the child with larger materials and movement (IE: logs, large blocks, tree stumps, balance beams; pushing and pulling, lifting and moving, sanding wood)
- Story time/Circle gathering
- The Play Garden (places for gardening, composting, climbing, building, sand and water play, outdoor creative play)
- Green school practices encourage thoughtful approaches to responsible use of natural resources, reusing/recycling, non-toxic cleaning supplies, environmental concern
The Role of the Teacher
Teachers facilitate environments that allow children to feel the warmth and connection of a small village. They revere creating a home life within our school community.
Teaching methods emphasize a nurturing, multi-sensory, nature-based learning environment. The stimulation of the child’s imagination and creativity is a high priority. Multiple learning modalities are integrated into daily rhythms to create a learning atmosphere that is supportive, challenging and meaningful to each child. Opportunities for artistic expression abound throughout the class.
We recognize that the young child learns primarily through imitation and example. Great care is taken to provide an environment that brings nurturing guidance and cooperation into the child’s world of imagination and fantasy. The week is rhythmically structured to include storytelling and puppetry, creative work and play, singing and creative movement, games and finger plays, crafts, art activities, and fairy tales.
- Teachers practice “Awareness of Self” in the classroom. They model and teach healthy, respectful and compassionate ways of relating and problem solving in the classroom setting through their behavior, language and energy. Children will feel the nurturing presence of their teachers. This creates an emotional security which will allow the child’s spirit the freedom to imagine, create and discover the world around them. Further, this encourages them to discern their sense of self.
- Teachers create Daily, Weekly and Yearly Rhythms. These rhythms provide a balanced structure for the children, allowing them to flow with ease through their times in the classroom, as well as meeting expectations of the classroom environment (from their teacher and their peers). Rhythms facilitate a means for children to feel, know and respond to what comes next (joyful anticipation). It is through this knowing that children become free to create, learn and discover.
- Healthy Expectations – age appropriate responsibilities, as well as the activities teachers bring to the children are an essential part of their growth and development. Our teachers present expectations allowing children the space and time to rise and meet what is being asked of them. Parents will see the joy as they feel as their sense of self/place in the classroom.
- Nurturing and nourishing the sense of wonder and imagination of the child – teachers provide the children with the materials, space and activities to create their world and express themselves.
The Role of the Parent
We believe in a harmonious relationship between home life and our school community. When each is in sync with the other, the child’s whole development may flourish.
The cooperative relationship between school and home that teaches healthy, respectful and compassionate ways of relating and problem solving benefits the whole child.
Just as children engage in purposeful work, play and creative experiences at home with their families, the preschool environment encourages the young child to “learn through living”. Parents and teachers serve a child’s needs best when we provide consistent, nurturing, affirmative environments that echo one another. The plural school/home model helps to foster a particularly strong confidence in the child’s social and emotional development. This lays the groundwork for children to flourish in many other situations.
Whole School Community
Community and communication are two important words derived from the same root. In fact, they are so intimately related that one cannot exist without the other. Although our primary goal is to nurture and educate our children, a very important companion goal is the fostering of our school community and the support and exchange of positive ideals for living our lives. We believe that a community is a group of individuals who choose to work together to further common goals. Recognizing and providing opportunities for clear communication are central to creating a strong community.
- Preschool community workdays
- Whole school events – families join staff for special celebrations, festivals and activities building connection and community (Fall Lantern Walk, Spring Festival, Winter Sing-A-Long, etc).
- Volunteer opportunities are boundless for all members of our community – field trip chaperoning, helping with classroom supplies, assisting with special classroom events as organized by teachers, etc.