Preschool

The St. Francis School Preschool is a joyful place that seeks to foster curiosity and wonder. We believe that allowing students to explore, investigate, and create is the perfect medium for motivating learning. Because of these closely held values, our curriculum is one that emerges from the daily experiences and interests of the children. We believe that “everything is developing,” and therefore the focus is on the process of learning rather than the product. Social, physical, and cognitive skills grow freely in this fertile ground of play and exploration. While facilitating these experiences, our expert classroom teachers assure that the children are challenged by utilizing open-ended questions to encourage problem-solving, imagination, and creativity. Student artifacts such as photographs, paintings, and clay-work, as well as completed individual and group projects, fill the classrooms.

We respect each child’s unique growth process, while also seeking to expand his/her world view. We believe that outdoor play encourages an appreciation for the environment and fosters creativity and a sense of wonder. At St. Francis Preschool, children have a say in what they do and how they do it, and teachers encourage learning to be a fun and exciting journey every day.

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Inquiry-Based Learning

We believe that all areas of development – social-emotional, physical, and cognitive – are equally important and interrelated. We use a developmental continuum framework and skill set list to guide us in preparing the learning environment, planning classroom experiences, teaching, and interacting with our students. Our teachers build on the natural curiosities of young children and their interests while incorporating areas such as literacy, science, mathematics, creative expression, and the arts.

A day in Preschool can include story circles, morning and afternoon snack, large and small group meetings, outdoor play, music and creative movement class, block-building, games, painting, drawing, writing, reading, and problem-solving. Our classroom materials are selected to encourage inquiry and exploration.

We support social and emotional development by establishing a caring and nurturing relationship with each child. Class projects and meetings build classroom community and serve as an introduction to working together with peers. Through these interactions, children are supported as they navigate through solving everyday conflicts that arise. Modeling appropriate responses to conflicts, giving children the language to use, and explaining how to work through problems is at the core of our teaching. Our goal is for children to leave Preschool with strategies on how to solve problems and with a positive self-concept. Building strong connections with peers and supporting each child’s developing independence is the heart of our work with children.

Importance of Play

An integral part of each child’s day is devoted to play, either in a group setting or independently. Such play experiences are considered “hands-on learning” and are designed to tap into each child’s sense of curiosity to promote discovery, creativity, problem-solving, and healthy brain development. Play has many benefits, supporting physical growth, language acquisition, increased confidence, and the practice of social skills. Children are naturally curious about the world around them and are eager to learn and practice the skills they have developed through play.

Music and Creative Movement

The Preschool has a dedicated Music and Creative Movement specialist teacher. Our specialist uses the Orff-Schulwerk Method, which is a developmental approach to teaching musical concepts through clapping, rhymes, dance and poetry. Children are introduced to a variety of pitched and unpitched percussive instruments, such as the triangle, drums, shakers, and boomwhackers. We hold seasonal community sing-a-longs / performance opportunities for Preschool students and their families. Our Creative Movement classes focus on physical coordination. Through the use of materials such as: hula hoops, bean bags, tunnels, and balls, children are able to play games that build upon their gross motor skills and self-awareness.

Our Garden and Playground

Our natural playground provides an outdoor experience that encourages and supports a connection with nature. This outdoor playscape is a dedicated one-acre natural playground where children can slide, climb, roll down a hill, observe insects, and run with friends.

Our playground includes garden boxes that encourage investigations and observations of plant growth and insect life. We enjoy seasonal visits from the school’s garden coordinator to help us plant vegetables and flowers, and introduce us to the different animals that live on our campus.

Programs

Pandas: The Twos Program is suited for a child who is 2 years old by August 1, and will turn 3 during the school year. The majority of children in this program are experiencing Preschool for the first time. The program is designed for and planned around the children’s interests. Children will explore, observe, wonder, draw, paint, color, sing, and be read to, among many other playful activities geared toward the developing 24- to 36-month-old children.

Adventurers: The Threes Program is suited for a child who is 3 years old by August 1, and will turn 4 during the school year. Many children in this program have had a previous preschool / nursery school experience, although it is not uncommon for this to be a child’s first preschool experience. The program is designed and planned around the children’s interests. Children will begin to participate in group projects that build community with their peers and help them learn about the larger world around them.

Trailblazers: The Fours Program is suited for a child who is 4 years old by August 1, and will turn 5 during the school year. The majority of children in this program have had a previous preschool / nursery school experience, although for some, this is a first preschool experience. The curriculum is designed to support students for the subsequent kindergarten year by addressing all areas of readiness.

Preschool Daily Schedule (Sample)