The Magic of the Preschool Years
The preschool years, ages 2.5–5.5, is a special and magical time in the life of young children. They begin to extend their world and family outward, making new friends and trusting new caregivers. They become increasingly aware of the world around them and delight in interacting and experimenting with their surroundings. They gain independence and self-control. They express themselves and their ideas using thousands of new words. They learn to take initiative and engage others in socially acceptable ways. Their vivid and creative imaginations are taking flight and they are bursting with excitement and enthusiasm for things that are new and different!
We divide our preschoolers into three groups:
- Explorers: Ages 2 ½ to 3
- Scouts: Ages 3 to 4
- Pioneers: Ages 4 to 5
Each group has their own homeroom teacher and circle space. A child’s homeroom teacher is their “main” teacher who will communicate with you every day, participate in teacher conferences and start your child’s day. However, there are many times during the day when all the children are engaged in free play or choosing centers, and at this time, the ages are mixed. All the preschool teachers get to know all the children, and you will meet and get to know all of them!
Getting the Best Possible Start
We all want the best for our children. We want to see them grow into happy and productive human beings capable of loving, working, and contributing. We want them to grow into their full potential as adults who are responsible, conscious and enjoy life.
The preschool years lay the foundation for the rest of a child’s education. It is at this time that a child’s self esteem is most significantly shaped and the time when their relationship to school and learning is also shaped. Thus, we want to give them the best possible start.
At Homestar we know that when children are engaged and having fun, they are learning. Our preschool program is:
Child-centered – Activities and experiences are about the child’s engagement and experience. Children are engaged in activities that are relevant to their interests and their world and that reinforce their self-concept in a positive way.
Play-based – Learning is a human activity and needs to be fun.
Focused on three centered learning – Children learn best when they are wholly engaged – mind, body, and emotions. We provide experiences and activities that involve a child’s active participation.
Process oriented – The process (vs. product) is at the heart of our efforts with children. Lots of wonderful creations will come home with your child, and you may have no idea what they are. The magic is in the process.
Developmentally appropriate – We provide opportunities and activities that are geared toward and respect the ways young children develop and learn in a context of a loving environment where they are safe, valued and secure.
Oriented toward the outdoors and the natural world – We spend lots of time outside – on our playground, visiting nearby Martin Park, taking adventures walks around our neighborhood, hiking in the Boulder Mountain Parks, and swimming at Boulder Reservoir. Children develop a relationship to and respect for nature. They become astute observers of their world.
Literature rich – Children love stories! Many, many times a day we read and tell stories. We act them out. Children write and illustrate their own books. We transform our environment into the world of our favorite stories and we re-live them.
Field Trips – The older children take field trips several times a year visiting places that are relevant to things they are studying. Recent trips include visits to: the Pumpkin Patch at Halloween, visiting nearby animal farms, a pottery studio (where they made and fired their own creations), Boulder Public Library, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Hiking Program – The oldest preschool children go hiking in the Boulder Mountain Parks for a half-day once a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you licensed? Yes, the school is licensed by the State of Colorado for 24 preschoolers, mixed ages (2-½ years – 5 years). We have a total of 7 teachers with 3-4 teachers with children at any given time.
What hours are you open? We’re open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 5:30 with the exception of Tuesday. On Tuesday, we close at 4:30 for a weekly staff meeting.
Do you have a part-time program? We have two, three, four and five day programs available in our preschool. The programs are all full days. We do not offer half-day programs.
What is your philosophy? Children are happiest and most engaged when they are doing what they do best – playing. Our play-based approach allows children to explore, discover, experiment with and “wallow” in their world through their play. This total immersion is the best environment for learning. It also helps a child build a strong sense of self and is the best way to foster social competency.
How do you communicate with parents? In September, we have an orientation for parents and teachers to talk about our program, philosophy, the flow of the day, how we will be communicating (emails, daily communication log, meetings), to get input from parents and to answer questions. In addition, lead teachers and the Preschool Director send out regular emails keeping parents on the pulse of what’s happening. We have a Parent Communication Log that is filled out daily by the child’s lead teacher, giving general information about the day. We have and all-center newsletter that comes out monthly and we have Parent-Teacher conferences twice a year. Our Parent Support Group meets every month and is a good opportunity for parents and teachers to talk and exchange information.
What do you look for in teachers? First and foremost we look for teachers who love early childhood and working with young children. Experience is important, as is the ability to work well as part of a team. Our program requires teachers to work very closely, so good communication skills are a must. We look for teachers for whom early childhood is an avocation. Three of our preschool teachers have been at Homestar between five and nine years.
How do you hire and train your teachers? After a prospective teacher has interviewed with the Director, has met the other preschool teachers, and has done a supervised activity with the children, a working interview or interviews are set up. In these working interviews the “new” teacher works with our current staff as sort of a test-drive, to see if the new person is a good fit for our teachers and children. Once hired the new teacher trains for approximately one week with several of our current teachers. This includes the new teacher observing the other teachers, and the new teacher being observed. In addition, we have a two-hour weekly staff meeting where we focus on staff training and education as well as general business, curriculum development and environmental enhancement.
Do you have Parent-Teacher conferences? We schedule Parent Conferences for each family twice a year. This conference is with the parents (and other significant care-givers if desired), the child’s lead teacher and the Preschool Director. If at another time, there are issues that are of concern either to parents, teachers or both, a conference is scheduled. A parent can request a conference at any time.
Do children use computers at your school? Absolutely not! In the preschool years, more than any time in a child’s life, a child’s brain is being shaped. It needs hands-on, whole-self experience to shape it, not virtual experience. There is very powerful research available that clearly states how detrimental computer use is for children and the negative effect it has on their brain development. We are active in educating our parents on what we have learned. At our school we focus on our children having authentic, first-hand experiences.
Preschool Daily Schedule
7:30 – 8:30 Welcome & Free Play (Indoors or Outdoors, Weather Dependent)
8:30 Clean Up
8:40 Circle Time
9:00 – 9:30 Breakfast
9:30 Potty Party
9:30 – 10:30 Free Play (Choice of Inside Centers or Outside)
10:30 Clean Up
10:45 Small Groups (Teacher-Directed Lessons)
11:30 Everybody Outside to Connect with the Outside World All Together
11:45 Circle of Logs
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 Potty Party
12:30 – 1:00 Spicy Work or Books/Puzzles
1:00 – 3:00 Nap Time
1:30 Quiet Art or Outdoor Play (Children who don’t sleep get up at 1:30 for indoor activities or outdoor play.)
3:00 Start Waking Children Whom Are Resting Still
3:15 – 3:30 Snack Time
3:45 – 4:45 Special Activities (Inside or Outside)
4:45 Tea Time
5:00 Clean-up; Kids get shoes on and get ready for going home.
5:00 – 5:30 Winding Down with stories, tea, books or puzzles
5:30 Parent Pick-up & End of Day