9:00-10: 30: Arrival, Unpack Belongings, Wash Hands, Center Play and Project Time
10:30-11:00: Bathroom Break, Wash Hands, Snack Time
11:00-11:30: Circle and Calendar Time
11:30-12:00: Outdoor Play and Dismissal
If you were to watch a day unfold in any of our classrooms, you would see happy children enjoying the company of other children and engaging in a great deal of play. This play is a child’s work and the means through which children hone skills, build friendships, discover the world around them, and find out what interests them. However, it is not play without planning. The learning environment and the activities engaged in are all carefully planned by the teachers to teach specific skills. Parents are encouraged to ask questions of the teacher regarding the rationale for specific activities.
Children arrive between 8:55 and 9:00am and may be brought to the classroom by their parent or caregiver or dropped off via a car line. The car drop-off line provides convenience for parents, but it is also an opportunity to build independence and competence in your child.
By being dropped off your child begins to feel a sense of self-confidence. Once in the classroom, each child begins by putting away his/her backpack, snack box and jacket (to teach him/her to take care of his/her own belongings) and then washing hands (to lessen the chance of bringing germs into the classroom setting from the outer world).
The first part of the morning is spent in a combination of free play and one-on-one projects both of which are times for building skills and developing interest and friendships. The classroom is set up with the toys and the selected tabletop activities that reflect the teacher’s choices.
Each teacher may add toys and books that complement the theme under study (e.g., a cardboard box made into a cave when studying hibernation). The tabletop activities, often playdough or other manipulatives, are designed to work on a specific skill (e.g., playdough or chopsticks for hand strengthening to develop pre-writing skills).
The children engage in self-directed play in the classroom while individual children are called over to work on the project of the day with one of the teachers. Working one on one with the child allows the teacher the opportunity to observe and assess the child’s capabilities while also helping to build rapport between teacher and student.
During the free choice time, the assistant teacher circulates throughout the classroom assisting children as needed and stepping in to guide play where necessary (e.g., two children tussling over a toy requires intervention and modeling of appropriate verbal negotiation skills). So many of our children get a great deal of one-on-one playtime with adults at home that they need help to develop independent play.
The free choice time also serves to help them develop self-management skills as well as their conversational and play skills with other students. As part of their free choice activities the children may use the sensory table, paint at the easel, put together puzzles, look at books in the library corner, or play with the various toys around the room.
Children also have outdoor playtime on the small playground, designed to enhance gross motor development in this age-group, typically toward the end of their morning. The playground has a sandbox with digging tools, a basketball hoop with many basketballs, a climbing structure, bucket swings, regular swings and ride-on toys, all appropriate for the developing 2-year-old. Playground time is the perfect opportunity for developing gross motor skills through running, catching, throwing, digging, and climbing steps.
The class will also have music once a week for 20 minutes with Ms. Maribeth and, in the winter months, will have Jump Bunch in Phillips Hall for 20-25 minutes once a week. Jump Bunch is a gross motor movement class that develops balance, coordination and other physical skills. As you can see, the morning is a busy one.