Throughout the history of St. Mark’s Nursery School, the essential beliefs in children, play, childhood and parental involvement have been a constant. With this in mind, we are adapting The Creative Curriculum by Diane Trister Dodge et al as an educational framework. This helps us plan and consider all aspects of the child’s school experience—the social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language development.
A Typical Classroom Experience
Each of our classroom experiences is unique, but certain routines and characteristics can be found throughout our program. Upon arrival, the teacher will most likely first greet the child and then the parent, asking for any information the parent would like to share about the child for that day. We believe that a child must feel safe before a successful separation can occur, so it will help if parents relax and encourage the child with positive words and a smile!
Most of the school day is spent exploring. Teachers thoughtfully prepare interest centers to provide developmentally appropriate activities, including dress-up, tactile tables, easels, art activities, literacy areas, writing centers, toys and games, etc. They consider the ages, interests, background experiences and activity levels of the children in their care. They make certain that there is something for everyone.
If a child’s interest moves in an unanticipated direction, our teachers help the child follow his interests. So if, for example, a child wants to have dinosaur puzzles in the classroom, our teachers assist the child in retrieving these from the supply closets. We believe that children learn best when they are learning about meaningful things.
Children also gather together for a group activity when appropriate. This is a time when members of the group share stories, songs, ideas, and experiences, and learn to listen, to wait, to be considerate, and to honor the thoughts and opinions of others. Teachers present children with favorite children’s literature and problem-solving opportunities, asking lots of questions to provoke thoughtful answers.
Gross motor movement is encouraged daily both indoors and out. “The Big Room” is visited by many classes on a daily basis and by others on occasion. Within this room are opportunities for climbing (our climbing wall among other things), jumping, bouncing, rocking, riding, running and tumbling. If the temperature is above 19 degrees, the children may play outdoors on one of our three play yards, and occasionally elsewhere on the church grounds.