Young and in love...with school.
At first, the idea of ‘school’ is intertwined with the momentousness of physical separation between very young children and their parents. Once this milestone is surmounted, the process of sowing the seeds for a child’s ongoing relationship with school begins. The importance of getting this right cannot be overstated. Our primary goal is to give the youngest members of our community a genuine and lasting love for school and a curiosity for the world.
Even the tile floors are cozy.
Child-friendly design details allow the children to “own” their school space. Secure in their school space, they are primed for optimal learning. The Pre-Nursery, Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten children at Green Vale occupy a world apart from the older grades: the Schwerin Early Childhood Center. This facility is a pride-point at Green Vale, owing to a design oriented to serve the young and the small. Play on the floor—it’s heated. See what’s happening outside—the windows begin a foot from the floor. Use the bathroom with ease—it’s connected to the classroom. Cubbies are low and wide, the playground is enclosed, doors aren’t too heavy.
Each grade-level enjoys its own wing emanating from a bright central lobby: the true hub of the Schwerin building. This common space allows for social interactions among parents at morning drop-off, a blessedly less rigid routine than it is at other schools (and indeed later at Green Vale). Plan a playdate; put a face to a name; match a child to a parent; talk bedtime strategies. A quick morning exchange between parent and teacher is often an invaluable way to ensure a happy and productive day.
They may resemble playrooms, but these are meticulously arranged learning spaces.
Sections consist of 11-14 children with a head teacher and one assistant. All teachers and assistants have educational and professional backgrounds in Early Childhood. What appears to be (and feels like) play is actually a concerted curriculum designed to establish and strengthen diverse academic skills. The daily games and activities, often including individualized projects assigned to each child, are a concerted program to build these skills. The Early Childhood faculty understand that the ability to think mathematically, for example, derives from a specific array of mental capacities. A separate complement of activities develops the skills required for reading and writing. A balance scale is fun to play with but it also lays a foundation for three-dimensional reasoning. What appears to be “show and tell” is an early lesson in public speaking. As students progress toward Kindergarten, the nature of the classroom activity increasingly resembles academic instruction in a more obviously traditional style with the time-honored “Writer’s Workshop” model and the highly effective “Singapore Math” curriculum.
At Green Vale, we are keenly aware of the different pace and sequence with which children develop academically and socially. Our program is responsive to this individuality while still fostering community identification and group activities.
The whole day engages the whole child.
During these years, social and emotional development are as important as intellectual. And while recognized milestones are the building blocks for future learning, children achieve them in different orders and on different timelines. Understanding these truths leads us to structure our EC experience around play (from directed and structured to entirely free) and individualization.
The mindset and learning patterns of very young children are what we know best. Along with a vibrant and varied homeroom curriculum, we expose these young but highly curious minds to a rich breadth of specials including ample outdoor recess, technology, science, movement, music, and physical education. A simple walk on the 40-acre campus becomes a field trip. So begins a lasting theme of a Green Vale education: in a safe, nurturing environment, new things are exciting, not scary.