By Lynn Hess, Director
Now that registration is open for the upcoming school year, prospective parents are asking about the school day. In order to give the best snapshot of what happens at The School of Grace, I’ll summarize the actual events from a journal entry on November 14th, 2011 in the Turtle (Infant/Toddler) Class.
9:00 a.m. Children arrived, hanging their jackets up, some removed their shoes, placing them in the shoe basket, then they all began to play in the center of their choice (ball pit, climbing gym, housekeeping, dolls, music, cars and trucks, dress up, blocks, manipulatives, puzzles (today it was fitting gourds into containers, twisting the lids on, then reversing the process) and drawing on the chalkboard.
9:30 a.m. Each child washed hands individually, experiencing one on one time with the teacher, and a few had diaper changes. We sang different songs for each process, which reminded the children of what happens next and that washing hands and changing diapers follow a routine.
9:50 a.m. Snack. Children were told in advance that it was almost time for snack, then when the singing of the “Hungry Song” began, they proceeded on their own (without needing to be told) to the snack room. Today, we combined several snacks like Cheerios, Quacks and Puffins, singing as we stirred everything in a large bowl. Some children chose to eat some raisins with their snack mix. Some picked out all the Quacks and ate them first, some chose the Puffins first. Although the children didn’t recognize what they were doing, other than eating food that they liked, the teachers noticed as they sorted the preferred food, made choices and communicated their desires.
10:30 a.m. Children indicated that they were finished by getting up from the table, putting their cups in the refrigerator, getting their fingers and face cleaned up and moving with one of the teachers into the “big” room where they, again, chose a center to play in.
10:50 a.m. Jackets and shoes were put on, with lots of conversation about who was already wearing shoes, who needed shoes and which shoes belonged to whom.
11:00 a.m. With clues, such as putting jackets and shoes on, the children were eager and ready when the “Let’s Go This Way” song was sung to proceed outside. Each child moved freely around the playground, choosing from a variety of activities such as swings, cars, seesaws, climbers and slides. The fall weather was beautiful, with a high of 72. We brought out paint, paper and tape. Everyone chose fallen leaves to tape to the paper, then they painted the leaves while standing at the easels. Discussion included descriptions of the curling yellow, brown and orange leaves, naming the paint colors, then describing what happened when colors swirled together.
A child accurately shouted, “eagle” from the swings as we watched the graceful bird seemingly float in the sky. This was followed by a discussion of the attributes of an eagle. Another child waved to every plane, calling, “Hi, Mommy, hi Daddy.” Her parents were actually returning this morning from an out of town trip via airplane.
Leaves were scooped up by the armful, thrown into the air with giggles and our “Leaves are Falling” song. We found leaves on our hair, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet.
The weather was so delightful that we had a picnic lunch on the playground, a new experience for this group.
Balls were carried, thrown, rolled down the hill and given names as they became babies in the swings.
Crawling creatures were caught in bug jars for examination of wings, legs, antennae and color.
We included many aspects of learning into the natural flow of the day: language development, written language, music, spatial awareness, creative activities, studying nature, cause and effect, social awareness of peers…the list goes on. We were so busy exploring and having fun that we remained outside until parents showed up at the end of the day.
Was today a typical day? Yes and no. It was typical in that all of our routines were the same, we adapted the day based on each child’s needs and what we knew would maximize learning experiences for each child. No, it was not a typical day because we don’t always eat lunch outside, we often paint inside, and our outdoor playtime is usually 30-60 minutes. If we had been inside, we may have missed the eagle and some of the airplanes. We would have painted sitting down and our spills would have ended up on the floor instead of in the mulch.
Regardless, we always make the most of every moment in every class (Monkeys, Tadpoles and Turtles). Sometimes our day is adapted because someone didn’t eat much breakfast and needed to eat a little earlier, or someone found a birds’ nest and brought it in to share, or a child just returned from vacation with experiences to share with friends, or we just had fun reading book after book after book, or the weather was delightful and we needed to experience our world outdoors for a little longer, just like today.
Today and every day with the children at The School of Grace, make me look forward to whatever the next day may hold in store. Parts of the day will be predictable, all of the day may go as planned, some of the day may be spontaneous, but the entire day will certainly be an experience to cherish and remember as a building block to growth and development.