At PLA the children are our curriculum. We are a play-based preschool. We do follow a theme of the week. This helps gear our learning to a subject that I think they would enjoy, a holiday that is coming up, or it is something that I have seen the children are interested in. The theme dictates the books we will read and some of the learning that will happen that week. But most of our day is free choice/free play.
You may be wondering, “What is a play-based preschool?” Playing is how children learn best. A play-based preschool promotes participation in age-appropriate activities through learning centers. We offer Dramatic Play Area, Math Center, Science Center, Literacy Center, and Blocks/Cars. We have art supplies readily available to children as well as books all around our classroom.
Unlike a daycare or schools that are largely curriculum centered, you won’t find kids wandering aimlessly at PLA nor are they expected to sit quietly for long periods of time doing worksheets. Our students are encouraged to learn through play, they have a say in what they learn and how they learn it. We do sit down for a table activity daily. This is 85% of the time a process art activity. This just means the materials are presented to the children and they are free to explore and create what they wish. We want every child to feel like an artist! Product art or “cookie cutter art” as it is referred to might look cute and be refrigerator worthy, but do you know who created 90% of that piece of art? The teacher! Not the kiddos. This is teaching children that their ideas and thoughts don’t matter and if theirs doesn’t look as good as their friends it can really hurt their self-esteem. There is no right or wrong in art. Whatever the children create is beautiful. It might not look like much to an adult, but if you ask your child about their art you will hear that it means a whole lot to them!!
Sometimes instead of a process art activity we will do a group project or a science experiment. We play with play dough a lot! We also explore things in our sensory tub like sand, rice, beans, snow, water, etc. Our school is a screen free zone. I feel like kiddos get enough electronics in the world we live in so when they are at school, they need to be using their imagination and just be a kid! We do have a journal that we start doing the last couple months of school. This is just to get them “writing”, but no matter how many times you put a pencil in a child’s hand they won’t write until they are developmentally ready to write. Same thing goes with flashcards. You can show them flashcards until your hands are tired, but until they are developmentally ready, they can’t tell you what letter it is. The best way to teach children how to read is just to read to them and point out words and letters everywhere!! Our job as their teachers is just to be available!
We build a safe loving environment and the kiddos just thrive from there! Our only rules are to keep them safe (No touching doors that go outside, we use our walking feet, we use nice hands, feet and words) Other than that this school is theirs. They are encouraged to be good friends, apologize when necessary, hug it out, clean up their own messes, and take responsibility for their own things and their own actions. I believe the Dr. Seuss quote “A person a person no matter how small.” If you treat children with respect and encourage their ideas wonderful things happen! My kiddos leave here as very independent and free-thinking people ready to not only face kindergarten, but ready for whatever life throws at them. At the end of the day the most important skills that a child needs to gain from preschool is learning how to follow rules, take care of their own things, be away from parents, stand in line, use inside voices, be a good friend… The rest will come when they are ready! If you like the idea of a play-based preschool Play Learn Achieve Academy might just be the place for you!
I’m developing oral language, social skills, small motor skills, concepts about quantity, shape, size, pattern, and an interest in math. I may use these tools as a computer programmer, accountant, or mathematician in the future.
I’m developing a curiosity about the world, sensory skills, problem solving, language skills, and experience with the scientific process (observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, reporting). If I’m a doctor, lab technician, pharmacist, or landscaper I will utilize these skills.
I’m developing alphabet knowledge, oral language, print knowledge, listening skills, eye-hand coordination, concepts about the world, and the desire to read. Maybe I’ll be a publisher, author, or librarian when I grow up.
I’m developing social skills, emotional skills, independence, oral language, my imagination, responsibility, and the executive function. I may use these skills as a mother, father, safety officer, or politician one day.
I’m developing motor skills, math concepts (number, size, shape, space), oral language, social skills. eye-hand coordination, self control, and my imagination. I may be a builder or architect when I’m grown.
I’m developing eye-hand coordination, small motor skills, self confidence, and creativity. I might use these skills one day as a artist, illustrator, architect, or designer.