Preschool at NPES
Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our preschool program focuses on inquiry-based learning that sees the child as strong and capable, filled with wonder and knowledge, and driven by innate curiosity. Preschoolers are valued for their ideas and creativity, and the curriculum reflects their interests and experiences. To support this emergent curriculum approach, teachers create a rich learning environment and provide the tools children need to explore, experiment, and express themselves as they work to make sense of the world. There is close interaction between teachers, parents, and children, and learning evolves out of these trusting, nurturing relationships.
What does our Reggio Emilia Inspired Program look like?
Each child is a unique and competent member of our community who comes to school with an abundance of experiences, natural curiosity and a powerful potential to learn. They are driven to form relationships, make connections, and seek new experiences to understand their world and their role in the community. Inspired by their own interest to figure things out, children construct knowledge side by side with their teachers and classmates as they explore and discover together.
Parents and families are an integral part of the preschool experience and our teachers recognize and respect parents as their child’s first and primary teacher. Through strong relationships built with families and the emphasis on the home and school connection, children feel a sense of safety and security in their life at school. Parents are encouraged and expected to participate and there are many opportunities to engage in the classroom and school community. Parents help us celebrate birthdays, host holiday parties, organize family get-togethers, share their hobbies and expertise in the classroom, or volunteer in other ways. Frequent communication between the students’ “school family” and “home family” ensures a strong partnership to support each child.
In our preschool classrooms, the teacher’s role is varied and complex. Depending on the child, the group, the lesson, or the opportunity for a “teachable moment,” the teacher may be acting as the curator, guide, resource, facilitator, researcher, advocate, or scribe. Our job is to implement strategies to ignite learning and support the children as they navigate the space and materials and learn in a collaborative setting. We partner with the children to build a caring, supportive community where each individual is treated with respect and valued as an important contributor to the group. All of our teachers are experienced and highly qualified with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, in addition to specialized training in our philosophy.
A critical component of the Reggio Approach is communication through documentation. Through the use of photos, videos, dictation, note taking, journals, blogging and the display of children’s artwork, teachers document the many ways children communicate their thoughts and ideas. Learning is captured as it happens and the visual record allows children to reflect upon their thinking, revisit their ideas and build on them. Children can see that their work and ideas are valued as the documentation inspires conversations and connections with parents and other visitors. Teachers use the documentation to evaluate their work and exchange ideas with others, while parents can see and understand what their children are doing at school.
The Environment as the Third Teacher
In the Reggio Approach, the environment is considered to be so important that it is referred to as the third teacher, after the parent and classroom teacher. Our classrooms are thoughtfully and intentionally designed to spark interest and engagement. In these warm and welcoming spaces, natural elements and light are used to create dynamic environments with the flexibility to respond to the needs and interests of the children.
The Hundred Languages of Children
In preschool, children are developing their ability to express and understand themselves and the world by using many symbolic languages—whether art, movement, drawing, painting, music, sculpture, science, dramatic play, yoga, dance, math, building, or writing. As they communicate through these “hundred languages,” children are invited to collaborate, ask questions, explore emotions and examine their own thinking. They learn to realize new perspectives and deepen their relationships with others. With a dedicated atelierista, or art teacher, on staff, children have multiple opportunities to explore materials and techniques on a daily basis.
For preschoolers, a sense of community begins at home with their families. They then build relationships with their peers and teachers. As they become more confident, they are ready to broaden their connections to involve other people in the school community, including their older buddies and adults throughout the building. Through these trusting relationships, children learn to incorporate and understand the broader community. We support and encourage this by taking frequent walks around the neighborhood, and getting to know our neighbors and local business people. Preschoolers also participate in service projects that connect them to the outside world while teaching empathy.
A driving philosophy at NPES is that students learn from each other as much as they do from teachers. As our youngest students, preschoolers benefit from cross-grade learning with buddies throughout the elementary grades and middle school students. The preschool students enjoy an enriching buddy program with the 4th and 5th grade students where they learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM together.
During the course of the year, many other classes will visit our preschool classrooms to practice their reading, present a puppet show or do science experiments with us. Preschoolers are proud to have older friends at school and thrilled to have their attention, while older students enjoy becoming role models and mentors for their younger counterparts. These connections help children develop their sense of self in the larger world and promote positive behavior in all participants.
Junior Summer’s Cool
Junior Summer’s Cool is North Park Elementary School’s summer program for children going into Pre-K four or Kindergarten. Everyday there are stories, games, crafts and lots of outdoor time with our teachers and middle school helpers. Half day and full day options are available.
Get in touch to learn more about the special community at North Park Elementary School.
Join us for an Admissions Coffee or a tour of our school. We look forward to hearing from you!