ST. STEPHEN’S PRESCHOOL has a warm God-centered atmosphere in which young children are encouraged to discover the joys of learning about themselves, about God’s world around them and about their place in that world. St. Stephen’s offers a developmentally based, child-centered program which emphasizes “play as a child’s work.”
OUR GOAL is that children:
- develop an age-appropriate understanding of God’s presence in their lives
- grow in self-reliance
- find appropriate means for expressing feelings
- respect adults as sources of help and guidance
- grow in the ability to use large and small muscles
- increase awareness of information received through all of the senses
- grow in the ability to make choices wisely and to solve problems
- appreciate the diversity of customs and cultures
- develop consideration for the rights and welfare of self and others because all are a part of the world God created
- respect self as an individual and a worthy member of the group
- enjoy the “process,” not worrying about the “product”
- develop an age-appropriate attention span
- leave our program at 5 years of age with a well-rounded foundation, ready to participate fully in all areas of kindergarten
During the preschool years, a child establishes many patterns of behavior. St. Stephen’s Preschool provides a curriculum designed to develop and encourage the establishment of positive patterns that will serve each child for many years. Each area of our curriculum helps children to see that they are growing, learning individuals who can solve many of their own problems and who can contribute to the group.
SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT – Children are led to see themselves as a valued part of God’s created world. As a part of that world, they are encouraged to act in a considerate and loving manner toward all of creation. They attend a monthly chapel time with the preschool chaplain. In addition, the chaplain visits each class monthly. Through the use of age-appropriate stories from the Old and New Testaments and contemporary authors, children begin to see that God takes an active part in their daily lives.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT – Children are encouraged to develop self-help skills (managing their own clothes, toileting, hand-washing and cleaning up). They observe safety practices when they learn the limits and locations for different kinds of play. Children learn to share, cooperate and be a friend. Children also learn leadership skills and how to interact in large and small groups through exposure to children of various ages.
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT – We promote each child’s feeling of self-worth, recognize that there are individual learning styles, and help each child strive towards his or her potential. Each child’s feelings are validated. Respect for self, others and objects is fostered through modeling and encouragement. Children are urged to distinguish between feelings and the acting out of feelings. They are encouraged to recognize that some of their actions must be limited and channeled. Children are also directed to understand how their actions affect others.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES – Our spacious outdoor playground permits many activities that encourage large muscle development and coordination. Swinging, climbing, ball playing, wheel toys, water play, gardening, building with large blocks and maneuvering an obstacle course are some of the activities offered. The development of fine motor skills is encouraged through table activities such as drawing, Legos or play-dough. Art easels are also often available to encourage the children’s creativity. Outside curriculum activities, planned by the playground teacher, enhance the monthly themes that are presented by the classroom teachers.
ART – Children explore a wide variety of media and are encouraged to make choices and evaluate their own work. These activities increase hand-eye coordination and small muscle development. Children learn to experience creative art as a “process” not a “product.” In teacher-directed activities, different art media are also used to reinforce cognitive skills.
MUSIC – Music is a wonderful learning tool. It is used throughout the school day to focus the children’s attention on the topic at hand. For example: children pick up math concepts with “Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed”; they develop gross motor skills and learn to name body parts while doing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”; and they explore feelings when singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” We also sing, dance and play music for the pure joy of it.
SCIENCE – Preschool children are natural scientists. We encourage this curiosity through exploring the world around us with all five senses. Gardens, magnets, magnifying glasses and cooking activities are some of the tools that may be used to encourage an attitude of inquiry. Teachers expand upon discoveries that the children make on their own, thus validating the child’s discovery.
LITERATURE – As children listen to stories, they will increase their listening skills and add to their vocabularies. As they discuss these stories, they will increase their ability to express themselves verbally while expanding their comprehension skills, sequencing and critical thinking. Children also have free access to books to look at, explore and appreciate on their own.
MATH – Children become familiar with the basic geometric shapes. They are exposed to the pre-math concepts of patterning and sequencing. Children begin to recognize the significance of numbers in daily life in activities such as cooking, block building and through the calendar. They explore number concepts and do simple counting through finger plays, flannel stories and games.