The Children’s Cooperative Playschool is a family-oriented early learning experience for children one to five years of age. We strive to provide a safe, nurturing and accepting environment in which children are encouraged to develop social, emotional, cognitive and motor skills through play. The Playschool is respectful of individual differences in all children and therefore strives to be flexible within a defined framework. The Playschool welcomes all families equally.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
We encourage young children to develop these skills and attributes through: an integrated learning approach, a balance between teacher- and child-directed activities, and a carefully designed learning environment.
A. Integrated Learning Approach
We use the device of weekly themes to offer children knowledge about the world via stories, songs, art projects, movement activities, puzzles and games, exploration of real objects, and printed and oral language which all relate to a central idea. This gives the children repeated exposure to new ideas, an essential component of young children's learning style, but in a slightly different form each time, to stimulate creative thinking on their part. In addition, we make sure that the themes are relevant to the multicultural group of children who attend the Co-op.
We encourage children to develop their cognitive, social, emotional, and motor skills throughout the day with a balance between teacher-directed and child-directed activities. Teacher-directed activities include circle time (group story time, game or movement activity, opportunities for children to tell their stories to the group), art (the teacher sets up the materials and allows children to explore and create), and song time. Child-directed activities are what really drive the day: Children develop independence and confidence as they move through the classroom and outdoor spaces, with teacher guidance to help them sort out the social and emotional challenges that arise. The children choose from an array of activities, play areas, and playmates during these large blocks of uninterrupted time.
The importance of play in early childhood development is often overlooked. However, studies show that children learn most effectively through a concrete, play-oriented approach to early childhood education (National Association for the Education of Young Children, Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Programs, 2001).
Children love to learn about themselves and the world around them. The teacher’s role is to facilitate this natural love for learning. An important aspect of our job is to carefully design the learning environment. During free play periods, the children are offered an array of materials to manipulate, alone or with peers.
Over the course of a week, the children are offered the opportunity to: build with hollow and solid blocks: draw, paint, cut, glue and tape; manipulate play dough, sand, clay, and dried beans; work on puzzles; look at picture books; listen to music; talk with friends; put together the train set and other types of manipulatives; dress up in costumes; engage in dramatic play and other fantasy games; play with puppets; practice writing their name; use the flannel board; and many other choices. All of the activities available to the children are educational and tailored to the age of the students in that class. During free play periods, our role as teachers is to facilitate children’s engagement (NAEYC, 2001) with their chosen activity, and encourage the use of social and problem solving skills.