Below are descriptions of some of the core activities of the early childhood program and the significance of each in relationship to lifelong learning.
The children are given a long period of time during which they are encouraged to imagine and play with a variety of natural materials and playthings, following their own initiative. During this time, the teacher may be involved in preparing the snack, sewing, cleaning, making toys, or any number of practical activities in which the children are welcome to participate. An atmosphere of work and play permeates the room.
The children are brought together to sing seasonal songs, recite nursery rhymes, play circle games, participate in gesture games, and experience puppet plays. Repeating and remembering verses sets the stage for memory work and is the foundation for healthy brain development. Rhyming and alliteration in poems and songs educate the ear, forming the beginning of phonics. Language development and vocabulary are gained.
Artistic and Craft Activity
Wet-on-wet watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, crayon drawing, finger crocheting, simple sewing, working with wool and wood are done as group activities or individually by a child. High-quality materials are used for these activities. These activities encourage the child’s natural sense of beauty, color, and form, as well as lay the groundwork for artistic techniques that will be needed later. They also aid in the development of fine motor skills.
Singing is woven throughout the day and is often used for transitioning from one activity to another. Music is a soothing influence throughout life.
In this group activity, the children eat together with their teacher. It is likely that the children have helped prepare the food with care and love. We use fresh organic foods whenever possible. An emphasis on gratitude for the food and on table manners sets the stage for lifelong social skills and supports healthy eating habits, healthy digestion, and organ development.
The group of children journey to the outdoors to experience the natural world. In addition to playing in backyard areas that have climbing structures and swings, the children go for long walks to explore the larger campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Gardening also is a valued part of each day. Extensive outdoor experience hones a child’s observation skills and breeds a deep, comfortable relationship with nature through plants, animals, and the seasons.
Sometime during each day, usually before lunch, the children are gathered to hear their teacher tell a special story. It might be a nature story, a sequential tale, a puppet play, or perhaps a fairy tale filled with wonder and imagination. After two or three weeks of hearing the story, the children might “perform” it for one another. Gradually, the children learn to listen for a sustained period of time. They cultivate fluid expression while building vocabulary.
In addition to the wide range of daily activities, there is an ongoing celebration of the seasons. The children may celebrate harvest in the autumn, create an indoor Advent garden as Christmas draws near, plant grass in their own Easter baskets in the spring, or join in a May Faire parade. Festivals from the various families’ religious and social cultures also are honored.
Part of the daily experience involves tending to domestic life (cooking, cleaning, repairing, and gardening) and self-care (toileting, hand washing, and dressing oneself). Involving the children in these practical activities and care of themselves and their environment lays the foundation for organizational skills needed in adult life.