Preschool & Kindergarten
Two-Year-Olds: The Twos Program provides an enriching opportunity to experience the joy of accomplishment, as children explore our purposeful learning environment. All activities promote socialization between peers to build friendships, provide daily access to climbing and running, dramatic play, and sand and water experiences. We know children at this age desire to be active participants in their surroundings (e.g. helping with clean up), develop closer relationships with adults (e.g. waving good-bye through the school window), build their independence through language, emotions, movement and gestures, or build inquiry skills (e.g. “what’s that?” and “how does it work?”). These are just a few examples of how we support our two-year-olds. Our teachers design activities that respond to needs and interests while supporting this stage of development.
A critical component of our Twos Program curriculum is the focus on providing opportunities to develop social interaction skills. This includes guiding children through activities that support relationships with adults and peers, expressing emotions, regulating impulse control and recognizing their own abilities. Separating from parents may create some anxiety. Therefore, we like to support this transition for each child by inviting parents to stay in the classroom with their child until separation can comfortably be accomplished.
Three-Year-Olds: Our Threes Program strengthens friendships and trusting relationships as children learn ways to engage in problem solving, conflict resolution, and more complex play situations. Children learn through play to develop all skills, such as large and fine motor movement, language to support literacy, cognitive and intellectual abilities to support math and science learning, and social and emotional skills to support effective interactions and self-awareness. Our staff designs curriculum to nurture children’s curiosity. Children can be seen jumping up and down to music, listening to stories, digging in the sand, pouring water to and from containers, counting the bugs in the play yard, asking a friend to play together at the play-dough table – to mention a few of the exploratory choices they have. We know that when curriculum is designed around children’s particular interests, it promotes life-long competence.
Four-Year-Olds: Social development is a central focus of our Fours Program. Children will build social and emotional skills for empathy and caring, how to successfully interact with adults and peers, how to cooperate, and to take responsibility. At this age, children’s social and emotional development continues to be a strong foundation for academic success. The curriculum provides opportunities for children to learn and explore a wide range of constructive activities including print (using stencils and traceable letter to explore the shapes of letters); emerging math concepts (measuring and comparing differences in block shapes and noticing seriation by arranging items from shortest to tallest); science-based activities (understanding why leaves are green); engaging in dramatic play (playing the role of an archeologist and using the sand box to dig for bones); and art activities (exploring terminology for different colors – warm and cool, crimson and vermillion). These curriculum activities bring children continued opportunities for self-directed play, a valued component of the program and a necessary skill to develop.
Pre-Kindergarten/Young Fives: Pre-Kindergarten children have increased learning capacity to understand concepts and to share common experiences in a community of peers. The Pre-Kindergarten curriculum continues to emphasize an approach that is intentionally designed to meet the interests, skills and developmental needs of each child. A few of the areas that the curriculum activities will reflect are: science and mathematics, health, music, art, and song and story writing. Social skills continue to be emphasized in the Pre-Kindergarten program, which further support critical thinking and language skills. Our program avoids isolated skill activities that require children to use dittos, rote training for memorization, reciting in unison or flash card drilling. Children will build their social skills, critical thinking and language skills by participating in independent, large group and small group activities.
During this time of development, teachers further embed curriculum with more complicated activities in number sense and other mathematical concepts, language and literacy projects, writing centers, investigative science projects, drama and theatrical experiences, block building, and dramatic play centers.
Kindergarten: Because we know that children’s learning is integrated into the early years, we understand that curriculum should be integrated with, and provide transition to, the primary grades. According to current brain development and learning research, children at this age integrate their knowledge and skills from one subject area to another. Children also have the capacity to build connections across various disciplines, such as applying writing and reading skills to social study projects or using music activities to integrate mathematical skills. Our Kindergarten Program creates a learning environment in which children extend their love of learning into academic school experiences. Therefore our curriculum is aligned with the state’s Kindergarten Content Standards and uses Developmentally Appropriate Practices (National Association for the Education of Young Children), which guides our decisions about effective teaching practices. Montecito emphasizes learning basic academic skills through meaningful and hands-on experiences for all children. The goal is for children to build increasingly complex thinking skills and thus to successfully apply social and academic skills to real life situations.
The kindergarten class is limited to 12 students and is taught by a state-credentialed elementary school teacher and an instructional assistant.