The daily program is orderly and yet also flexible and responsive to the individual needs of the children and group. It provides for a variety of experiences, levels of difficulty, and individual pacing. There is a balance of: indoor/outdoor, quiet/active, individual/group, large muscle/fine motor and child initiated/staff initiated activities. Classrooms and the playgrounds are set up into learning centers for preschool age and activity zones for infants and toddlers involving the following experiences:
Art: Media such as markers and crayons for drawing, finger painting, easel painting, and items for collages allow the child to experience satisfaction with manipulation, experimentation, and exploration of the materials as well as providing outlets for the expression of ideas and emotions.
Blocks: Building with various types of blocks and accessories provide opportunities for dramatic play, social interaction and cooperative activities with peers, as well as perceptual, spatial and mathematical learning.
Concept Development: Young children are actively engaged in the process of forming many concepts about their world. Through themes developed in the learning centers and zones, the teachers provide experiences to expand each child's knowledge, cognitive skills, language, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.
Dramatic Play: Role playing and pretending enables the child to reenact the experiences in the world in order to understand and explore their meaning. With the help of props, a child may explore a number of roles - from being a parent caring for a small baby, a doctor giving shots, a chef to even an entomologist.
Language Arts/Emergent Literacy: Experiences with books, flannel boards, discussions, puppets, storytelling, and other activities aid in the child's language development, help him learn about the world, and promote an early appreciation of literature. The teachers converse with the children during their play, routines and at mealtimes to promote language acquisition. Daily exposure to Spanish is provided to the children through the daily interactions in the classroom during play, meal and care giving routines as well as teachers reading books and singing songs in Spanish. The emerging literacy of young children is promoted through reading stories, library areas, print rich environments, opportunities to use markers, crayons and other writing materials, and writing centers for preschoolers to explore pre-writing concepts and skills.
Large and Small Motor Activities: Climbing, running, pushing and pulling are a few of the large muscle activities encouraged by the availability of slides, trikes, and various climbing structures. Cutting and pasting, art activities, woodworking, puzzles, and other manipulative materials provide opportunities for the practice and development of small motor skills.
Music: Singing, listening, experimenting with various instruments, and the exploration of various types of music in the classrooms and during weekly music times with a music resource teacher introduce children to musical concepts and an appreciation of music.
Self-Help Skills: Activities tailored to the developmental abilities of each group and individual child, such as helping with cleaning up, washing hands, and pouring juice are introduced into the daily activities and routines to encourage independence and promote self-esteem with an "I can" attitude.
Sensory Play: Sand, water, playdough, fabrics and other sensory media enable the children to explore textures, qualities of objects, changes, and concepts such as empty/full, more/less as well as providing an outlet for relaxation.
Science & Math: Experiences offering firsthand opportunities for scientific discovery and understanding of number and quantity include cooking, sensory play, using manipulatives and games, planting seeds, counting objects and number songs and numerous other activities. Some classrooms may have a small pet (limited to gerbils, hamsters, fish, hermit crabs, etc.) that the children will be able to observe and help with its feeding and care.
As the child freely engages with hands-on, minds-on and emotions-on in the activities and learning centers, numerous opportunities occur for cognitive, language, physical (large and small motor) and socio-emotional development at the child's own level and interest along with social interaction with peers and staff.
CLASSROOM GROUPS AND RATIOS:
The Children's Center enrolls children that are 7-1/2 months through 5 years of age at the beginning of each school year in late August or early June for the summer programs. Children are grouped according to chronological age and developmental level. The teacher-child ratios varies according to age. All classrooms consist of two qualified teachers, with at least one serving as the lead teacher. The staff-child ratio will not exceed the following (ages based on the beginning of the school year) during the morning program and NAEYC accreditation ratios will be maintained for nap time and late afternoon:
- Infants and Young Toddlers (@7 months - @17 months) - ratio 1:4
group size not to exceed 8.
- Toddlers (@17 months - @27 months) - ratio 1:5
group size not to exceed 10
- Two Year Olds (@24 months - @36 months) - ratio 1:6
group size not to exceed 12
- Three Year Olds and Young Four Year Olds - ratio 1:7
group size not to exceed 14
- Four and Five Year Olds - ratio 1:10
group size not to exceed 18
The children stay with their designated teachers and group for the entire school-year from late August to late May. The children attending for the summer program often transition to their next age group depending on staffing and enrollment patterns. The goal for all classes is continuity of relationships between teaching staff and children and among groups of children and their families with children staying together as a group with the same teachers for at least 9 months or more.