There are three classrooms for the youngest groups, supported by a dedicated infant lounge. This is a protected and cozy space where parents of the youngest children can sit down with their babies, unpack diaper bags, take off snow suits, nurse a bit, and get settled for the day…and then bundle them all back up at pick-up time. Our youngest children are in groups no larger than seven each day with four teachers covering the span of their time with us. Because they are each growing at their own pace, the day is individualized and tailored to meet the needs of each baby. Time is spent indoors and outdoors, either on the dedicated infant playground or on a neighborhood walk. During the day, classrooms can use the lounge as additional play space, allowing groups to mix, as appropriate, and to leave quiet spaces for sleeping and lively activities to happen together or separately. Children in these age groups move through development quickly, so the rooms are built to be connected and flexible.
Toddler spaces must be simple for staff to supervise and also be flexible for children. At this age, children often want to carry around all the toys and dump them out somewhere else. Every area must serve multiple purposes. Each classroom provides some space for large muscle play, climbing places, sensory activities and a quiet area for reading and snuggling. Because every area is used for multiple purposes, the spaces are open and easily accessible to all children.
These preschool classrooms are filled with abundant natural light. With generous space for each group, there is room for scientific exploration, block building, a reading nook, sensory play and artistic exploration all at the same time. Children this age engage deeply in their own learning and we see that offering them a chance to dive deeply into a topic, whether it be dinosaurs or dogs, allows them to explore and strengthen all areas of their development. Building curriculum around children’s interests allows them to be the protagonist in their own learning and at the same time challenges staff to be continual learners themselves as they support rich emergent curriculum.