As many of you know, our preschool at MPA has many new faces this year. Not only have we welcomed so many wonderful new families, but we have two new teachers and two new assistants working with our youngest learners. The Early Learning Center is home to our 4-year-old class taught by Ms. Betsey and Ms. Sarah. At the end of the hall in Barker, our 3-year-group is led by Ms. Bridget and Ms. Megan. Both of these classrooms are the place to go if I need to smile, to laugh, or need hugs!
Preschoolers are so full of wonder and excitement. Their endless exploration and desire to learn about the world around them is an educator’s dream. Throughout the school year, our preschoolers explore themes and build upon what they learn by helping to guide the direction of the unit. When the class shows an extraordinary interest in a topic within the unit, the teachers follow their lead and before you know it, an entire center in the classroom is devoted to this interest and they are looking deeper into the subject. Our preschool teachers are engaging our students in creative and meaningful learning experiences by letting them assist in forming the direction of the curriculum. This active process in which the teachers and students explore together, exchange ideas, and learn together gives the children a voice in the classroom to develop lifelong learners.
For example, the 3-year-olds have become obsessed with reading and acting out nursery rhymes and it has taken on a life of its own. Ms. Bridget and Ms. Megan realized that the children were not only enjoying them, they were asking for more! The class also enjoys week-long activities that correspond with the letter of the week. For this activity, last week the students made homemade lollipops and delivered their creations to several of us on campus. We connected not only the letter sounds in lollipop and lick but other words with the same letter sound. They were so proud to share the treats they made. These activities help the 3-year-old class build confidence and curiosity by exploring and exchanging ideas daily!
The 4-year-old class is busy working on a “Community Helpers” unit. When Ms. Betsey and Ms. Sarah introduced the idea, they defined what community means and how there are communities within communities. Before they knew it, the students were curious not only about the community they live in, but their classroom community and also about MPA as a community. Just yesterday, they spent time in Mrs. Sheppard’s office learning about what it takes to run a school and they visited the Dining Hall to meet Ms. Happy, the chef that cooks lunches for the school. This week, I will visit with them to talk about what a principal does and Mr. Louie will explain how he keeps our campus beautiful. Many parents have also come into the classroom to share about how their jobs help our community. The class is so excited about the unit and with their enthusiasm for learning, it will be fun to see the direction that this unit takes!
The active nature of preschoolers coupled with their ability to question and explore absolutely everything makes this style of teaching occur naturally. Children play to learn and our preschoolers have so many wonderful opportunities to do so every day. Next time you see one of these classes on a walk across campus, chances are they out exploring for their next adventure in the classroom.