Our Child-Centered Educational Philosophy
Park Children’s Day School believes that the most successful Early Childhood program is child-centered and provides a happy and nurturing atmosphere in which children can develop a positive self-image and a love of learning. The curriculum is diverse and flexible, offering a varied and developmentally appropriate choice of activities. The children are valued as capable, worthy individuals and are encouraged to explore, to embrace challenges, and to become critical thinkers.
PCDS advocates learning through experience and provides children with the skills to meet future educational demands. Children at every age level are given unlimited opportunities to learn and grow through play. This approach provides a sense of challenge and personal mastery for each child.
The PCDS faculty and administration believe that a young child learns and lives best in a well-organized environment in which he or she is encouraged to express his or her ideas, experiment, and move about freely in appropriately equipped and organized classrooms.
We believe that the education and well-being of each child is best accomplished through cooperation and communication among all members of the school community. Parents are encouraged to be in close contact with the school, to participate in their child’s school life, and to be involved in the many activities sponsored by the Parents Association.
An atmosphere of trust, shared concern for the welfare of the children and a sense of community are the most important aspects of the school’s philosophy and practice.
The children are exposed to rich language and literacy experiences every day. The classrooms are intentionally designed as print and symbol-rich environments. Through listening to stories, the dramatization of stories, book making, and dictations, the children develop many skills including oral language skills, the connection between the spoken and written word, phonological awareness, alphabetic knowledge and conventions of print. We use a variety of literary genres to inspire the children and spark their interest and imagination. Curiosity is developed in the classroom through both teacher-planned and spontaneous child-initiated activities. The children begin to incorporate letters, words, symbols and numbers into their own work. As in all aspects of the program, the children advance at their own pace.
Mathematical concepts are integral to the curriculum at all age levels. Through the manipulation and exploration of a wide range of materials, children gain an understanding of counting and number sense, basic addition and subtraction, sorting, patterning, comparing, sequencing, classifying and estimating. Teachers use charts, graphs, books and songs to support the children's math skills. Conceptual learning takes place in the context of play through activities such as cooking, counting games, block building and group meetings. One of our goals is to help children think mathematically and use language to describe, reason, and predict ideas and solutions.
Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Our program emphasizes “discovery” as a way of gaining information. Each week a science specialist visits the classrooms and can accompany the class to the park. The children are provided with a variety of materials and experiences that allow them to use the scientific method of asking questions, making observations, forming a hypothesis, experimenting and drawing a conclusion. Science concepts include cause and effect, balance, measurement, nature, seasons and weather. Through activities such as, cooking, planting, the care of pets, and recycling of materials, children gain respect and a sense of responsibility for their environment. Our city children get a real “dose” of nature because Central Park is just across the street. Science activities in the park help increase descriptive vocabulary and allow children to gain a better appreciation of their world.
Preschool gives children their first sense of community outside the home. Social Studies learning begins as children make friends and participate in group decision-making in the classroom.
PCDS is a safe, nurturing community in which each classroom follows a consistent routine and each child is valued as an individual. When children play and work together, they learn to accept each other’s differences, manage their emotions and practice resolving conflicts. As their social skills develop, they learn to share, take turns and negotiate. They gain a sense of responsibility by performing various classroom jobs as they learn to take care of their classroom community. The children begin their social studies explorations as they focus on themselves and their families, and then expand to their community and the world around them
Social and emotional skills are the tools both children and adults use in social interactions to manage everyday emotional responses and make responsible decisions.
Preschool social-emotional skills include self-awareness, social awareness, the ability to cooperate with others, manage feelings, feel and show empathy for others, establish healthy relationships, focus attention and persist at challenging tasks. These skills are emphasized at PCDS and given intentional support because they are critical for long-term school and life success.
The art program at PCDS focuses on the creative process rather than the product. Projects are child-directed and celebrate the experience of discovery. Children work with a variety of art materials to express their experiences, feelings and ideas. As children use familiar materials over time, they develop increasing dexterity, creativity and skill.
A music specialist works with each class weekly utilizing a variety of musical experiences, which include instruments and movement. The approach is expressive, imaginative and movement-oriented. Children feel joy and confidence as their musical abilities grow. Songs promote language skills rhythm and pitch. Music fills the classrooms and hallways every day, especially during transitions, meeting time, clean-up and dismissal.
Physical activity is an important component of every child’s learning experience at PCDS. The children spend part of each day in the school’s gym or Central Park. Our gym is equipped with a climbing wall, tricycles, a rope climber, rocking boats, trampolines, a variety of sports equipment and large hollow blocks for building structures. In Central Park, the children have the opportunity to explore the natural environment and observe wildlife.
Before school begins in September, all children entering Toddlers and Threes are visited at home by their teachers, regardless of whether or not they are new to Park Children’s Day School. This is an important first step toward establishing a teacher/student bond and a feeling of security in a new classroom setting. The teachers will call the parents shortly after Labor Day to set up a convenient time for the home visit.
Mrs. Newell and/or Mrs. White greet the children at this time in the lobby. The children proceed with their parent(s) to their classrooms with the exception of children in the Fives who will be brought to the gym to meet their teachers.
A teacher will be on duty at 8:30 a.m. every morning, beginning in late September, in the first floor reception room to read to children whose family’s morning schedule requires that they be brought to school early. The accommodation is for children in the Threes, Fours and Fives.
Formal Parent/teacher Conferences are scheduled in the fall and in the spring. Additional conferences may be arranged as parents or teachers wish.