Our preschool program is a multi-year experience intentionally designed to meet the evolving developmental needs in the classroom and to ultimately prepare children for their transition into Kindergarten. For the younger preschoolers, the early months of the program are largely play-based. As the year progresses and their natural curiosity grows, they begin to seek out more of the “academic” components of the classroom. The second year in preschool begins with a mix of creative and imaginary play and academic activities of the children’s own choosing; as the year progresses, children seek out more activities that foster their love of learning and prepare them for their next step into kindergarten.
With our small child-teacher ratio, we are able to focus on each child’s individual needs, which is invaluable in a mixed-age classroom. Some children might be working on cooperative play by building block structures and roadways while others may be engaged in a literacy-based activity to enhance their pre-reading and writing skills. It is an engaging and predictable environment with teachable moments at every turn, and all children have opportunities for one-on-one time with their teachers.
We utilize a thematic approach throughout the year. Some of our favorite themes are “All About Me” and the concept of self; seasonal and holiday-based topics; “Penguins and Polar Bears” as part of our animal exploration; and “Community Helpers” to teach the importance of service and being a good person. We also follow the lead of children through our emergent curriculum, which allows us to explore topics together that they’re interested in. Through all of these efforts we practice language skills, math concepts, and handwriting basics in order to prepare students for their early educational journeys. And, of course, we spend plenty of time on the playground, riding our bikes and scooters, looking for buried treasure in the sandboxes, painting on our easels, or planting the vegetable garden and bringing seedlings to life as part of our science exploration.
As our growing preschoolers are learning to explore the world in which they live, they are also finding their places within it. At The Fessenden Children’s Center, preschoolers benefit from the familiar, manageable environment that gives them a sense of comfort, but also from expanded opportunities to visit the larger Fessenden campus and community. When we’re not learning and playing in our own classrooms or outside on our natural playground, we build in regular visits to The Fessenden School library where we have story time with the librarian and check out books each week. We also visit the school’s gymnasiums and organic turf fields for greater physical activity. Exposure to these types of facilities help prepare children to take flight once their grade school journey begins.