Our Early Elementary program embodies all of the essential principles of high-quality early education for young children. The doorway to a child's initial social and academic learning pathway, these early years are often a child's first formal school experience and as such we are building a foundation for future scholarship. In keeping with the philosophy and values inherent in educating young learners, our program provides all of the crucial components they require to become engaged and passionate about learning. These include:
Supportive Learning Environment
An Engaging and Well-Organized Classroom
Nurturing Setting Capitalizing on Students' Strengths and Gifts
Strong Social Emotional Foundation
All of the classrooms foster learning through play where symbolic, active, and self-motivated play experiences serve as the backdrop for education. With hands-on, project-based investigations, our developmentally enriched environment supports our young learners, building their self-confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Nurturing our students and stimulating their love of learning encourages the growth and maturity of essential executive functioning skills, readying them for the years ahead.
Via literacy, math, science, social studies and technology instruction we begin to ignite our children’s imagination and encourage their exploration of the school, community and then the world around them. Using play as one of the vehicles which enhances students' social and literacy learning, our teachers encourage the development and growth of early relationships with peers and adults, building social attention and social awareness. These burgeoning relationships fuel children’s empathic and moral growth leading to increases in perspective taking over time. Understanding and supporting relationship development also serves as a critical catalyst, which impacts the development of our students' behavior regulation. Valuing the importance of self-regulation, managing emotional experiences and changes in mood, enables our young children to further ready themselves for learning and collaborative play.
We pride ourselves on developing partnerships with our parents to further support the development of our young learners. We meet bi-monthly with parents individually, in person and by phone, as well as in small groups. We use these opportunities to offer education sessions focused on topics such as nurturing child development, social learning, and play. These opportunities allow us to share ideas about how parents can excite children’s love of literacy, expand their pretend play and encourage their language development.
All of our early elementary staff members work with students to build cohesive classroom communities where children's strengths are celebrated. Classes are grouped developmentally taking age, learning style and social competencies into account. All of the classes use curriculum that place play front and center; fostering the skills needed to be strong learners. It is an exciting environment and here we capitalize on students' individual interests, using these as a springboard for learning how to learn. We support the growth and development of students who are in the process of readying themselves for a fuller academic instructional program and those for whom early skills are still emerging.
The program creates a vibrant environment where children are participants in choosing activities that are often most in line with their own interests. This child-centered approach capitalizes on individual strengths and enthusiasm while keeping an eye toward developmental expectations and the academic underpinnings necessary to become a successful student. Our children learn about architecture using various types of building materials and create block structures as they delve into math concepts. They use the sensory experiences of sand and water to problem-solve scientific questions. They listen to stories that feed their creativity and support the development of dramatic play, leading to improved reading and listening comprehension as well as greater perspective of how the world works and their role in it.
Our child-centered, play-based learning environment is essential for the enriched social learning, which is central to our mission. Social learning forms the bedrock to support academic learning. Tracking character development in children’s literature, conceptualizing the main idea, considering the perspective of the listener in a novel story that a child creates, all develop in tandem with our social knowledge. When we spend time on social learning we foster cognitive and language development, executive function skills and sensory processing abilities. Front-loading a child’s ‘social’ learning is an essential component of educating the whole child. To this end, we have developed a social emotional curriculum aligned to the needs of our youngest learners. We provide direct instruction of abstract social emotional concepts (social observation, attention and interpretation) and practice social competency all day, every day.
Using specific initial and ongoing assessments to tap into the cognitive and social emotional domains, we pinpoint each child’s learning strengths and challenges. Our teachers use this information to draw out individualized learning plans for each student. The Early Elementary program prepares our students to join the larger school community, with the foundation they need in order to be active and engaged scholars and not just individuals capable of amassing knowledge. We believe that combining social emotional supports with targeted learning strategies offers our students in the Early Elementary program unique opportunities for success.