Educating the whole child
The Day School environment is structured in way that helps young children grow in each of the four main areas of development: social/emotional, physical, cognitive and language. We recognize that each area of development is an integral piece of early childhood growth and learning. Each grade level has specific objectives, or expectations, that are geared towards the developmental level of that age-group. However, there is a wide range of typical development during the early childhood years, so all teachers are equipped with the information and teaching strategies needed in order to provide intervention or enrichment for children along the developmental continuum. Everything you see occurring at the Day School is an intentional practice aimed at meeting the developmental needs of the children, whether it is children building a house out of blocks, meeting in a small group with a teacher, participating in unstructured play or curling up in a cozy place with a book. All areas of development overlap and affect one another, making it imperative a child receives support in each domain. Our developmentally appropriate practices are backed by evidence-based research and provide young children with the ideal environment to reach their full potential.
Cognitive, or intellectual, development is much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. Young children need support in developing a positive approach to learning as well as memory, classification and symbolic-thinking skills. We know a child who has a positive outlook on learning will be more successful academically and socially, and we strive to instill in each of our students a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Children’s environments play a major role in their knowledge base, which in turn affects the way they think. Classrooms are set-up to encourage the all-important play and other learning experiences that support growth in memory-development, divergent thinking, problem-solving and academics. The academic content in the classrooms supports learning in reading, writing, mathematics and social studies, and cognitive development is further reinforced through specialized classes in Music, Science, Spanish and Library Story Time.
The best indicator of long-term academic success is the social-emotional health of a child. The Day School strives to help children develop the skills they need to become socially and emotionally intelligent individuals who are able to navigate the complex relationships and situations that present during their school career. Day School teachers identify social-emotional needs of students in order to support their growth in this area as children learn to regulate their own emotions and behaviors, establish and sustain positive relationships and participate cooperatively and constructively in group situations.
The early childhood years are crucial in the development of fine and gross motor (small and large muscle) skills. Physical development has strong correlations to other areas of development, and positive experiences with movement are linked to healthy brain development. Teachers observe the development of children’s fine-motor coordination and are equipped with strategies to help improve their skills in preparation for long-term success with writing, cutting and other important fine-motor tasks. Children are provided with plenty of opportunity for unstructured outdoor play in which they have the equipment needed to encourage traveling, balancing and gross-motor manipulative skills. Additionally, all children attend Motor Lab and/or Physical Education classes taught by a specialist to target specific gross-motor developmental milestones.
Learning to understand and use words effectively is an imperative skill in maintaining relationships and is also closely related to cognitive development. Day School classrooms provide rich oral and written language experiences. The curriculum is tailored to meet the language development needs of children at each age level. Print-rich environments, thematic curriculum, shared reading and writing, opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer discussions through socio-dramatic play and cooperative learning experiences, and exposure to rich literature and drama during library story time are just some of the many developmentally appropriate practices used to help children develop their language abilities.