Approach to Learning

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.16.23 PM.pngAt Wild Primrose Preschool, our goal is to meet children where they are at developmentally and encourage them to move forward in their own unique way.

With an emphasis on social and emotional health, children are invited to connect through communication-literacy and STEM activities that are inspired by direct experiences with nature, gardens, food, and homesteading.

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 2.01.23 PM.pngProviding time away from a busy fast-paced life, we offer space and time for holistic multifaceted education.

Our curriculum is rooted in long stretches of uninterrupted play and guided by child interest. We center around seven major themes which often overlap and are woven together throughout our days and across our school year. Respecting children and their play, we acknowledge it as real work and are honored to do our work along side them. Continue reading to learn more about our central themes.

Social Emotional Health

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 2.16.22 PM.pngWe believe that first and foremost, young children are doing the critical work of developing their social and emotional skills. We believe these skills are never fully mastered and teachers engage with children in the joint exploration of how to communicate clearly, to identify and express emotions appropriately, to hold a positive sense of self and family, to be empathetic, to cultivate healthy relationships and build strong communities, and to help create and enjoy the rituals and celebration that bind our daily lives together.

We promote social emotional health in many ways including:

  • Communication Literacy
  • Anti-Bias Education
  • Creative emotional release through art, movement, music, and sensory experiences
  • Bodily autonomy
  • Civil engagement through group decision making, voting, advocating, protesting, rule making, and restorative justice

STEM

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We believe that STEM skills are critical tools allowing a person to make sense of the world around them, to organize their thoughts and ideas, and to translate those thoughts and ideas into tangible manifestations. To the untrained eye STEM topics may seem a bit too advanced for preschool, however, young children are

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deeply fascinated by this work and naturally use it in their play. Below are some of the ways STEM explorations will happen at Wild Primrose:

  • Science: Scientific method, sensory experiences, body systems, anatomy, electricity, magnets, gravity, friction, force, energy, states of matter, chemical reactions, geography, solar systems
  • Technology: Simple machines, building and taking apart, using various tools for a range of jobs
  • Engineering: Making and executing plans to solve problems, big picture/small details, parts to a whole, combining things to make something new, building structures, paths, and systems
  • Mathematics: Classification, organization, patterns, measurement, rhythm, data keeping, data sharing, predicting, mapping

Communication Literacy

While traditional early literacy focuses on mastery of the alphabet and phonetics, communication literacy uses a rich array of literary forms to help children connect with Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.10.56 PMthe art of expression and encourages them to view literacy as tool for communication. We spend our time exploring the concepts of storytelling, writing our own stories, listening to and reading non-fiction stories of other people, finding the magic and morals presented in folk/fairy tales, discovering the joy in riddles and rhymes, learning to critically inform ourselves with news and current events, documenting our learning, expressing complex ideas and emotions in words through poetry, lyrics, spoken word and journaling, and developing competency with literary tools (maps, diagrams, recipes, instructions, calendars).

Nature School

We consider ourselves to be a nature school due to our heavy focus on plants, animals, climate, the Earth’s environment and how it is all interdependent. We connect to these ideas in many ways throughout our day and while our indoor classroom is certainly reflective of this learning, our outdoor classroom is even richer.

Outdoor classroom: For us this is literally using outside space as learning space. Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.16.48 PM.pngEach day we dress for the weather and head out to play, believing in the wisdom of explorer Ranulph Fiennes, who said “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Our incredible yard is our primary outdoor learning space. We also make regular visits to the natural areas in our neighborhood. At times, our outdoor learning might be structured and specifically aligned with learning that has been happening in our indoor classroom. Most of the time, children are encouraged to discover and play at will while teachers observe their work. Outside learning is then expanded upon later in our indoor environment.

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.58.03 PM.pngWe take both a large and small scale approach to outdoor learning. Children develop a deeper understanding around very basic natural elements (such as wood, rock, fire, metal, water, sand, soil, etc) while also marveling at the complexity and interconnectedness of living things and the environment. Children begin to find patterns as we return again and again to the ever broadening concepts of ecosystems, food chains, natural communities, seasons and life cycles. We also directly address the pertinent issues of environmental justice and global climate change.

Farm & Garden

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.57.00 PM.pngOur farm and garden curriculum centers around the age old practice of cultivating and domesticating plants and animals. Preschool children are known to be inexhaustible questioners, and this is one of the ways we engage with the questions about “What is this? Where did it come from?” We explore the various types of farms and gardens that exist and children are invited to put their knowledge to work in their own gardens at the school. Our expansive green house, many garden beds, laying chickens and fruiting trees allow for year-round hands-on experience in farming and gardening.

Food & Nutrition

Food & Nutrition: We believe that food consumption is a powerful human experience, that not only sustains our lives and nourishes our bodies, but also connects us to other living things. From the time it is harvested, there is so much to learn about how to prepare food, the different social roles of food, and why we even need to eat in the first place. This element of our curriculum asks children to develop an understanding of and participate in the cycle of growing/preparing/consuming/composting food.

Big Picture Explorations: Here are a few questions we use to kickstart our deepening understanding of food. Most questions do not have a “right” answer and we will revisit them as our understanding grows.

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 1.26.55 PM.pngWhat is food? Why do we need to eat? What nutrients are in which foods? Do we need them all? What about vegetarians, vegans, people with allergies? What kinds of food can we grow/raise? How do we do it? How do we turn plants/animals into food? How can we combine different things together to make different types of food? What are herb and spices? How do we “keep” food? What do we do with the extra food? What about the extra non-food byproducts of raising food? What are the rituals, customs, etc around preparing and eating food? Does everyone grown/ prepare food in the same way? What about people who don’t have enough food? What about people who have too much food?

Hands On Exploration: We also roll up our sleeves and experiment with various food preparations. Some tasks like soup making and bread baking are done weekly as a way Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 8.15.24 PM.pngto cooperatively make a lunch for our group to share. Others are done in conjunction with seasonal harvests, guest speakers, and child interest. Below are listed a few things we hope to make this school year.

Soup, bread, cheese, pickles, jam, yogurt, sauces, dips, butter, tea, fresh pasta, sprouts, ice cream

Homesteading

We view homesteading to be the time honored practical skills of self-sufficiency and survival. Like Gandhi, we believe that teaching young children the dignity of labor helps to cultivate peace. At Wild Primrose children are invited to participate in various homesteading activities that contribute positively to the daily life of our community. Our homesteading curriculum focuses on the three elements of Doing Useful Things, Making Useful Things, and What To Do With Waste.

Doing Useful Things: Dressing self, washing self, feeding self, preparingScreen Shot 2018-03-16 at 2.15.09 PM.png space for activities, cleaning up after activities, decorating and beautifying space, preparing and serving food, fixing and mending materials in ill repair

Making Useful Things: Paper, soap, candles, books, instruments, stamps, dye, pottery, weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, spinning, wiring circuits, carpentry, knot tying

What To Do With Waste: What is “trash”, landfills, burning, recycling, reusing, repurposing, composting, vermiculture, poop, grey water, pollution

Discipline & Guidance

We believe that there is no such thing as a “bad kid” or even “bad behavior.” Instead, we view all behaviors as attempts by the child to get their needs met. It’s from this perspective that we are able to creatively partner with children to shift their behaviors towards actions and expressions that are safe, effective and appropriate for a school setting.

We will not ever use corporal punishment, verbal assault, shaming, guilting, coercing, threatening, or isolation in attempt to change a child’s behavior. We don’t even see a need to use time out or bribes at school.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 2.13.09 PM.pngInstead, we make sure children develop a strong understanding regarding the ways to express needs and feelings, and help them learn to be aware of the needs of others. We discuss the natural consequences to their chosen actions and help them develop plans to avoid unwanted reactions while reaching their desired outcomes. There are discussions and reminders daily about what kinds of behaviors are expected and appropriate for our school setting.

If a child is really struggling, we may invite them to process their feelings in a safe space, away from other children or particular activities, or perhaps very close to a teacher. When the child is ready and able, we will debrief what happened and make a plan to avoid it in the future.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 2.12.42 PM.pngIf there is a conflict between children, teachers will be in very close proximity but will only intervene if it begins to feel physically or emotionally unsafe. Our goal will always be to allow children to fully express their feelings and needs to one another, and to collaborate in reaching a solution that works for them. We will also advocate for restorative justice, which at this level often means refraining from requiring children to apologize and instead encouraging children to ask some basic questions of one another:

  1. Are you ok?
  2. What do you need to feel better?
  3. Did that fix it?

In the unlikely case that a child’s behavior is regularly unsafe and/or requires excessive amounts of teacher attention, the child’s behavior will be closely documented and their family will be asked to become involved in helping to resolve the situation.