Two-year-olds learn best by doing so providing them with ample opportunities to explore and try new things are a big part of their day. Friendships begin to develop and children gain confidence as they use their words and thoughts to interact with others. Children are encouraged to role-play in both a dramatic play area and outside; construct structures with blocks; build with a variety of materials; use art supplies such as paints and clay; investigate science through exploration; follow along with music and movement activities; and begin to appreciate literature through listening to stories. These, as well as many other play-based activities, promote positive social, emotional, and academic growth.
Our program during their third year opens up in new ways. As children gain more self-esteem, they build confidence and develop more advanced problem-solving skills.
At this age children improve coordination, learn more complex games, begin to interact more deeply with others, and become more curious. It is this natural sense of curiosity that we use to inspire them to learn and grow.
Getting children ready for the leap to Kindergarten, our Pre-Kindergarten program is designed to further develop and enhance a child’s cognitive, social and emotional growth. Hands-on, objective-based activities and independent exploration provide opportunities for concrete learning. This environment allows children to develop a variety of skills that form the foundation for reading, writing, and mathematics.
Teachers are intentional as they choose the best strategies to accommodate the different ways children learn. This means that teachers have specific outcomes or goals in mind as they create their lesson plans. Some learning is child-guided, where teachers provide materials but children make connections on their own or through interactions with peers. The other approach is adult-guided and is more effective when learning involves materials and experiences children would not necessarily encounter on their own. A balanced approach of child and adult guided teaching is utilized with all age groups. Below are some examples of the two types of approaches in some areas of early learning.
Language and Literacy
Encourage children's development of early literacy skills, expanding their vocabulary and abilities to communicate. Recognizing letters, sounds, and words. Expanding knowledge on our studies, and promoting a love of reading and literature.
Child-guided learning example: Conversation is the foundation of literacy development. Promoting the ability to listen, initiate, and respond to others is the practice children need. Modeling active listening by waiting for children to form and express their thoughts, making eye contact at their level and repeating what they have said encourages this skill and shows you have heard them.
Adult-guided learning example: The number of words young children can understand and say depends on the language they hear. Reading books that are rich in vocabulary and interesting ideas to spark questions and discussions.
Social and Emotional Development
Goals in this area include helping children develop independence while understanding limits, routines, and following directions. The community building will encourage problem-solving and create an awareness of each other’s similarities, differences, and feelings.
Child-guided learning example: Developing a sense of community with an atmosphere where children are expected to be kind and supportive of each other.
Adult-guided learning example: Encouraging children to consider alternatives and anticipate consequences by practicing respect and equality through compromise and negotiation. “Do you think Susie knows that you would like her to share the ball?”
Mathematics and Science
The understanding of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures allows for the development of higher level thinking skills such as counting, sequencing, patterning, classification, sorting, grouping, comparison of amounts and sizes, making predictions, testing, and drawing conclusions.
Child-guided learning example: Playing with math manipulatives such as unit rods, patterning games and puzzles foster the discovery of math concepts.
Adult-guided learning example: Activities occurring at circle time that are related to measurement, graphing, counting and patterning.
Large Motor Development
Gross motor skills include all of the large movements children make with their major muscle groups. The development of these muscles builds strength, balance, and coordination. Other areas of development include the ability to assess risk which promotes advanced thinking. Confidence, self-esteem, and the much-needed release of energy!
Child-guided learning example: Most of these skills develop through exploration and discovery when children play outdoors. However, children respond enthusiastically when new games or equipment is introduced that encourages practice on specific skills.
Adult-guided learning example: Activities that build on children’s interests and imagination could include a group story that is acted out involving practice with the desired skills.