It is a well-known fact that a person’s capacity for learning and their ability to function as a human being is developed primarily during the first three years of life. This time is known as the period of rapid brain growth. Even though the basic organization of the brain does not change after birth, details of its structure and function remain plastic for some time. During this period, the brain develops connections, or dendrites, between cells. Experiences such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch, activate and reinforce specific neural pathways.
Research has shown that young children who are exposed to a variety of life experiences develop more brain connections that help them with learning activities throughout their life. With this information in mind, we expose not only the preschool children, but also the toddlers and even the babies to enriching activities. These activities help promote the neural connections that enhance their learning capacity.
Young children normally have an innate desire to explore and learn about this fascinating world they have come into. This is a time of life when it is not necessary to force the child to learn new things. If properly presented, learning for the young child is not a task, it is fun. Our goal is that the child develops a love of learning that will stay with them throughout their entire life.
There are many ways to present an educational program to toddlers and preschoolers. Our Learning Program is based both on developmentally appropriate practice and on the Montessori philosophy and techniques of education. I believe both of these approaches blend nicely into a well-rounded approach. I believe the best way to learn is through an interactive process of the child exploring his or her environment.
We provide a stimulating environment and interesting materials that encourage the child’s exploration. Activities and experiences are concrete and relevant to the children’s lives. We often focus on hands-on activities because children learn and understand concepts much better with hands-on activities. Our hands-on activities include various support objects such as the Montessori materials for the math, language, sensorial and practical life skills, and our nearly life-size Diversity Dolls for our Character Development Program. We also use everyday objects to explore and demonstrate such things as science concepts.
When a child becomes a “senior preschooler”, meaning they are in their last year before going to kindergarten, we focus on making sure they are ready for kindergarten by the time they leave. Through our daily interactions with the child, we evaluate the senior preschoolers every month. The evaluation consists of a comprehensive check list of skills the California Department of Education feels a child should be proficient at before entry kindergarten. This evaluation gives us an idea where we may need to give the child more support in their learning process.
The four main areas we address in our Learning and Enrichment Program are:
- Cognitive Experiences
- English language activities
- Spanish language activities
- American Sign Language
- Math and Science
- Physical Experiences
- gross motor
- fine motor
- Creative Expression
- Visual Arts
- Music and Expressive Movement
- Practical Life Experiences
- Care of the Environment
- Care of the Person
- Grace and Courtesy