ESCUELITA - MORE INFO
Emergent curricula: In a Reggio-inspired school, the curriculum is ever-evolving in response to children’s interests, community opportunities, seasons, cultural resources, and more. There is no set curriculum for the escuelita class, because themes emerge and extend themselves in an organic fashion in response to all of these factors. All subjects reflect themes under study, so that children deepen their sense of science, social studies, and the arts through thematic explorations in these subjects.
As in the toddler class, all eight intelligences, and more, are honored through explorations with sight, sound, smell, touch and movement. Teachers are aware of development benchmarks in language, social skills, subject areas, and small and large motor skills. They make sure that activities introduce developmentally appropriate skills in all areas in a balance and natural way. We truly honor the “hundred languages of childhood” (Malaguzzi) in the escuelita classrooms.
Above all, we celebrate childhood as a period when children have ample time to play at matters of their own choice, and to interact with other children to build rich fantasy games. We also celebrate the natural world around us by spending most of our time outside, and by creating, with the children, a classroom full of gardens and magical spaces.
Documentation: In Reggio-inspired schools, “making learning visible” through documentation is very important. Teachers maintain a portfolio on each child which records pictures and anecdotes about that child at play, and which builds over time so that developmental changes can be recorded. This portfolio is shared with parents in a spring conference and is ongoing. When the child moves to primaria or leaves the program, it is given to the family. The goal of this portfolio is to share with families the rich activities which their children do in the “children’s world” of the Reggio-inspired classroom.
Parent involvement: We attempt to create meaningful interaction with all families, and rely on family support to make our school strong. Parent conferences are held at least annually, and we provide various opportunities such as back to school night, informative parent meetings, and performances during the school year, so that parents can feel informed about what their children are doing.
All parents participate in family tasks each year, and are asked to assist at one of two work parties, to attend fund-raisers, and to help give at least one fundraiser. We encourage but do not require parents to volunteer in the classroom, and give tuition relief for up to two mornings of volunteer time per month. We also encourage parents who have relevant professions or skills to share those in class when they match a theme under study, or to share cultural heritage experiences.
We also encourage interested parents to participate in school governance through assisting in a variety of committees and/or to become parent representatives to the Board of Directors or event Board Members themselves. It is our hope that events like fundraisers not only help the school, but help families to create bonds with each other and build a stronger community.
Early morning and afternoon daycare: A majority of escuelita students stay for more than curriculum hours. Some stay from 8-2 daily; others are joined by primaria students for daycare until 6 PM, or whenever the family chooses to pick them up before that time. 7-9 AM are also daycare hours. Daycare teachers are fully qualified, and the PM head teacher works in the afternoon only, so that s/he is fresh and can provide special afternoon experiences.
Peregrine School is committed to quality experiences during the whole day, although the rhythm and intensity of various times of day may vary. Children who stay for late afternoon activities continue to experience new and special options provided by teachers and to have their play ideas reinforced through active teacher engagement. They also experience expanded recreational activities, such as trips to the park, to the nature area or garden, and more.
Mariposas vs. Extra Hours: While students who stay for daycare hours every day sign up monthly, other students who normally leave at noon or at 2:00 PM can on occasion stay for a longer day, if parents ask for this service. This service is called “extra hours”, and is paid for on a monthly basis using sign in sheets as a record. On occasion, staff may have to limit extra hours due to overcrowding.