"We as teachers spend a lot of time developing a relationship with a child and finding out what their strengths are, what their interests are." ~ Adrienne Meade, WFS Preschool Teacher
Beyond its fidelity to best practices related to early childhood education, our preschool is guided by Quaker values and the understanding that young children can and should be at the forefront in decisions about what and how they learn. Our program emphasizes community and responsibility, with respect for each individual, through practices that encourage student-initiated exploration. Recent research in neuroscience and long-term outcomes of early childhood programs has reinforced the value of this approach as a foundation for future learning and the development of so-called 21st century skills. The programs that are most effective focus on developing young children’s capacity to construct knowledge, rather than on dispensing information with rigid instructions.
In our program, students’ interests and questions help determine the course of the learning process, with the teacher as a partner. Opportunities for self-expression are frequent and varied, and student work is documented regularly. Our program encourages students to reflect on and to inquire more deeply into what they are thinking and doing. An emphasis on play is at the heart of our early learning program.
As is true of other learning spaces at lower school, the preschool classroom is designed to encourage creative thinking and collaboration, and there is significant focus on building a learning community with a sense of mutual respect and responsibility.
The preschool is part of our lower school campus, and students enjoy benefits such as interaction with older students, visits to the library, a full-time nurse, and food service.