Maumee Valley’s Prekindergarten program continues the themes of expression, cooperation, and collaboration from the Preschool program. Long term projects are introduced, which means that students have the opportunity for extensive exploration and research. Students are often involved in these projects in small groups, while others in the class are participating in self-chosen activities. A project normally begins with the teachers observing and questioning students about their topic of interest. This happens inside the classroom through the use of provocations that are meant to pique their interests. Topics vary as a result of the questions the children ask. Therefore, curriculum planning and implementation revolve around open-ended and often long-term projects, which are based on a balance between teacher-directed and child-initiated activity. A strong emphasis is placed on cooperative play as students start to notice their peers and begin to have preferences in playmates. In addition to the homeroom curriculum, Prekindergarten students participate in Spanish and music programs.
In the Maumee Valley Prekindergarten class, reading and writing concepts are introduced as the children are ready. Through the familiar modes of play, teachers incorporate lessons around speaking, listening, phonemic awareness, print concepts, letter recognition, comprehension, and fluency. It is not uncommon for language arts instruction to take place naturally and often found intertwined within inquiry units. As students are engaged in a unit called “Take a Closer Look,” for example, a small group of students may observe and make a connection between print and meaning. Teachers embrace these opportunities to further explore deeper concepts initiated by a student’s natural curiosity. Throughout every experience in the Prekindergarten classroom, the teachers carefully monitor each child’s development at this stage to make sure they are introducing concepts when a child is ready to learn them.
Maumee Valley’s Prekindergarten class uses various learning contexts (small group, large group, and one on one) to provide focused mathematics time that is relevant and meaningful to students. Young children have varying levels of mathematical understanding and, as the year progresses, teachers build on their understanding by providing formal vocabulary to these concepts as well as introducing new ideas within the context of their play. Teachers pose questions about student’s play that engages them and allows them to begin to understand such concepts as data handling, measurement, geometry (shape and space), operations and algebraic thinking (pattern and function), and counting and cardinality (numbers).
The Prekindergarten class emphasizes process, decision-making, personal responsibility, and communication. At this age, students are making the transition from parallel play to cooperative play. They learn what it means to be part of a group and how we can all help and learn from each other. Meeting time becomes an integral part of the curriculum as students learn to listen, to express their ideas, and to solve a problem working together as a group.