This is a very unique program: exciting, challenging, and much more exploration and decision making.

The children are now very independent and their little minds are like "sponges." They are inquisitive, love to experiment, ask many questions, and can "soak up" all the learning that we can provide for them. This is a time for "free thinking," and the teacher's job is to encourage them in all areas by asking "open ended questions."

We have two settings: one is our "open classroom" and the second is a traditional classroom. Both classes follow the same curriculum. The open classroom is for our older four-year-olds. It takes place in a very large room that accommodates two classes with two teachers and four assistant teachers. The traditional classroom follows the same program, but because the room is the standard size, it houses one class with one teacher and two assistant teachers and is for our younger four-year-olds.

The day begins in both classes with 35 to 40 minutes of manipulative time, a time when the children's small motor skills are strengthened to prepare them to use a pencil for writing. This is also when our math program is done. Some of the areas covered during the year in math are patterning, sorting, classifying, I-I correspondence, adding and subtracting, and graphing. All math exercises are done using the "hands on" method approach: using manipulatives and games with which the children are familiar.

Our pre-reading skills are also done every day. This area covers auditory discrimination, oral dictation, instructional language, listening comprehension, and letter recognition.

The children are evaluated during the second month of school. This information is shared during the first Parent-Teacher Conference so that both parent and teacher can work together.

After manipulative time, attendance is taken and discussion takes place on the day's theme and activities. After morning snack the children select the "learning center" in which they wish to participate. The unique aspect of the open classroom is that all five learning centers are open and headed by a teacher or an assistant. The ratio in each area is 7 to I - one teacher to seven children. Areas covered are:

  1. Language Arts - which takes place up on our loft. Children gather around the teacher sitting on comfortable pillows and listen to stories and do story dictation.
  2. Family Living Center - Can be found tucked away underneath the loft. Children play house and depending on the "theme" it could become a grocery store with a cash register and "money," or a hospital, or firehouse, etc. We also do real cooking with the children. They wash up, wear aprons, follow directions, measure, pour, and cook. They learn good health habits, and math skills, see how a liquid becomes a solid, and, of course, they love to eat the finished product.
  3. Art Center - Children can be found cutting, pasting, and following directions. At the easel, children do free art and make their own creations. Work done by the children is always their own work. It is the process not the product that counts. They do their own cutting, pasting, etc. and all are "Hands On" activities.
  4. Science - Science is an important part of our program. One can see children experimenting with magnets, colored panels, rocks, leaves, seeds, dirt and using magnifying glasses, etc. The center has many classroom pets that the children care for, such as fish, birds, turtles, rabbits and guinea pigs. They see the stages of a butterfly, which changes from a caterpillar to a chrysalis and then into a beautiful butterfly.
  5. Block Building - In “block building” the children learn many math skills and are introduced to many new unusual shapes. There are many accessories available to accompany the children's creative structures.
  6. Woodworking - In this area the children can be seen hammering with real hammers and nails. They begin with large tree trunks.They learn to measure, use a saw, and create their own projects. The children wear goggles and there is a teacher for every four children in this area.
  7. Physical Development - We have acres of property and seven playgrounds. The children go outdoors everyday (weather permitting) to develop their large muscles. They run, jump and climb, and take in all that good fresh air. This is a very important part of their development.
  8. Music - Children also enjoy music, play rhythm instruments, learn many songs, and "move" to the music. They also listen and follow directions. We feel that developing the "whole child" is important for their future success.

Through these programs, the children are well prepared for Kindergarten.