Our play-based program celebrates the individual child while promoting the classroom community. When very young children enter school, they are still in the process of forming themselves as individuals. Once they become secure individuals they can then become part of a group. Play is the work of childhood, and it is through play that children develop themselves and then learn to get along with others.
Our goal is to provide children a springboard from which they can be successfully launched on an educational career beyond preschool. Our students acquire both academic knowledge and social skills. The youngest children enter still constructing themselves as young individuals and by the time they enter kindergarten elsewhere, they have mastered the necessary skills to be engaged, cooperative members of a group. Children learn to take turns, share and collaborate with respect for other people and the surroundings.
Education at PAMDS is an active, child-centered enterprise, led by a dedicated, talented faculty. Each classroom has at least one teacher with a Masters in Early Childhood Education as well as assistant teachers to create a high teacher to child ratio. The children are given the freedom to develop their own interests and time to explore and interact. All while teachers listen for their wonderings and questions about the world around them.
Our students are known and recognized for their kind and cooperative behavior. This occurs as a direct result of our emphasis on respect and cooperation by creating an environment in which the children feel safe, comfortable and valued, while being engaged and interested in their activities. In a warm, supportive and challenging classroom, children take pride in their own accomplishments and appreciate the accomplishments of others. The daily programs are designed to meet the specific developmental needs of every child.
Scheduled activities in a child’s day include but are not limited to opening and closing circles, small or large group projects based on a ‘Cycle of Inquiry’, explorations of the neighborhood, work times, music, movement, art, as well as fine-motor and gross-motor activities. During Work Time each day, there is ample time for individual and small group exploration of many inherently interesting activities in the room. Through observations of children’s interests, play themes and questions, teachers design experiences that provide the space for children to create their own theories about the world. These moments in a child’s day are critical for the development of language skills and mathematical thinking that result from our skilled teachers guiding the flow and direction.
The differences between a play-based model and other models is not what information and skills are gained, but rather the ways in which skills and knowledge are offered to the children. We want to put the ‘pre’ back into preschool and feel that early education is not merely a smaller version of later education with workbooks, drills and computer technology, but rather a preparation for later education. Happiness, creativity and active imaginations are all much more important for later academic success than early acquisition of automated information. We are supporting the development of life-long learners.