Oak Meadow’s Beginners program offers a carefully prepared safe, supportive, nurturing environment designed to meet the developmental needs of our youngest children, toddlers to 3 years old.
Children develop order and routine in an engaging and well-prepared environment, designed specifically for our Beginners. This multi-year program, led by a highly trained and nurturing teacher, allows older students to enjoy stature as mentors and role models, while our younger students feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead.
Our Beginners curriculum is founded on the premise that students learn through hands-on exploration and the freedom to move about as well as make independent choices. The classroom design, materials and daily routine support children in achieving a sense of independence and reaching their fullest potential. The design of the space inspires exploration, experimentation and self discovery.
Areas of Learning
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Practical life activities give children a sense of being and belonging as they participate in the activities of daily life. Young children work to develop skills to complete everyday tasks such as caring for ones’ self and their belongings, caring for the environment around them and developing grace and courtesy skills. Materials are child size by design. Children develop respect for the objects they use and for the people in their community and the greater world. Through the development of practical life skills, children will develop a sense of independence and confidence in his/her abilities to accomplish everyday tasks. Practical life exercises aid in the growth of the child’s ability to focus visually and mentally, and also help the child develop an orderly way of thinking.
Beginners have the freedom to move about the classroom and explore materials hands on. Activities are carefully chosen by lead teachers to appeal to the inner will of the child and help them further their growth and development in categorizing the world around them through various attributes such as sight, sound, touch and smell. Through hands on exploration children will begin to lay the foundations of classifying and sorting, skills necessary in math. As young children handle the material they are also building strength in the small muscles in the hands, wrists and forearms that will aid in academic writing later on in their schooling careers.
The Beginners classroom is rich in language supporting the development of receptive and expressive language. Teachers use proper names when giving lessons and discussing objects and pictures to help children develop a broad vocabulary. Children have the opportunity to develop vocabulary through hands-on exploration as they explore realistic objects and pictures in language baskets. Presentation are given using a 3 period lesson:
The teacher provides the information and the name of the object or picture.
The teacher asks the child to demonstrate knowledge of what an object is by asking the child to point out a specific object or picture.
The child provides the information when the teacher asks “What is this?”
Through interaction and conversation with teachers and peers, children develop communication skills. Teachers model phrases for children to hear and use. Development of language also occurs when we come together for group activities such as our class gathering and meals and through individual and group lessons.
Art for toddlers is all about experimentation and exploration. Children have daily access to art supplies and can use the materials to create open ended projects. Art for toddlers is all about experimentation and exploration. Children are exposed to various media, such as clay, paint, chalk, and crayons, to express creativity and to enhance fine motor skills. Language skills are further reinforced through the child’s description of the art and its personal meaning.
The Beginners program provides ample opportunities to use instruments and sing songs. Children have access to various musical instruments to explore and create sound with. The love of singing and dancing is nurtured in the environment through planned songs at gatherings as well as requested throughout the day, both activities which also help to develop language skills. Music gives children the opportunity to work on coordination of body movement and work as a group in a social setting.
Exploration of the nature and natural materials is interwoven throughout the Beginners program. Elements of the natural world are explored both indoors and outside. Many of the materials within the environment are made of natural materials such as wood, metal, and glass. Through the use of natural elements, children are given rich sensorial experiences that non natural elements are not necessarily able to provide. Various items and activities are also brought into the classroom to explore nature such as plants and seed germination, just to name a few. While outside children will have the opportunity to explore the playground and all the natural elements the great outdoors has to offer. Children have the opportunity to observe wildlife such as bugs and birds. They also get to feel the breeze and explore puddles left by the rain. All of these experiences offer the opportunity to further develop ones senses as well as respect for the natural world.