When we say that we are a play-based program, newcomers sometimes worry that this means that very little learning takes place. On the contrary! Research shows that children learn more, and retain more knowledge, when they have hands-on experiences that allow them to predict, test, observe, and build upon existing knowledge. Our teachers plan curriculum with children’s individual interests and abilities in mind, allowing for varying levels of challenge and open-ended measures of success. This means that learning happens in an environment that is both comfortable and inspiring.
A large block of time each morning and afternoon is devoted to Interest Centers. Interest centers are classroom areas and activities that target particular skill areas such as math and science, language arts, etc. Children move between interest centers at will. Each station is set up to encourage self-directed play and learning. Sometimes teachers facilitate a particular station, while other times there are written or visual prompts to guide children’s play. Most interest areas are not limited to one type of learning. For example, a cooking project involves math (counting and measuring), science (properties of matter), language arts (reading a recipe and following directions), social skills (turn-taking, role playing) and problem-solving skills (teamwork, trouble-shooting, and sequencing). We do interest center activities in extended blocks of time so that children have opportunities to explore them in depth and build on existing knowledge.
We plan for the following six content areas. For descriptions of particular kinds of play, click on the downloadable flyers for each area of interest below.
We believe that the best creative art experiences for young children emphasize process over product. When children are able to express themselves creatively, they develop healthy self-esteem. Click here for our Creative Arts at GH flyer.
We believe the best way to support literacy development is to expose children to rich language and wordplay in context. We want children to find books irresistible! You will see plenty of print in our classrooms, because exposure to a print-rich environment at an early age is a predictor of later vocabulary skills. Click here for our Early Literacy At GH flyer.
We believe the best way to support development of mathematical skills is to give young children concrete experiences with real objects that they can count, sort, group, and sequence. As they play, we provide tools and vocabulary to help them synthesize concepts such as size, shape, and quantity. Click here for our Math At GH flyer.
We believe that children need to move for many reasons: to gain information about their world and objects in it; to burn off energy and relieve stress; to improve strength and coordination; to physically connect with others. Brain research shows that motor development is closely linked to brain development. Our job is to provide a safe, comfortable environment and challenging activities that will engage young bodies and minds. Click here for our Motor Skills at GH flyer.
Children have an innate curiosity and desire to explore, question, and experiment. We believe the teacher’s role is to support the development of scientific reasoning and inquiry with positive interactions in the context of our natural environment and through the process of trial and error. Click here for our Science at GH flyer.
Social Skills and Problem Solving
We believe children gain confidence when they have opportunities to try new things and experience success and failure in a supportive, inclusive environment. They learn independence when they have opportunities to practice self-help skills every day. And they develop empathy when they observe caring adults interacting with others and encouraging children to consider different perspectives. Click here for our Social Skills at GH flyer.
For more information about our approach to early learning, please visit our Philosophy page.