The classroom environment plays a crucial role in the teaching and learning process, provoking students’ curiosity and creativity, stimulating the imagination, and encouraging children to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. The classrooms are intentionally designed and prepared by the educators in collaboration with others in the Preschool to optimize small and large group interaction, social play, and constructive learning.
Classroom spaces are well-defined for children to guide their exploration and invite social and cognitive experiences. Specific aspects of the classroom environment may include: a meeting space for group gathering and reading, a message/writing area, a construction area for blocks and other building materials, a mini art studio, and a dramatic play area. The classrooms are organized with materials that are carefully chosen, presented, and stored at the child’s level to encourage maximum independence.
The Preschool also has specialized spaces throughout the school that are shared by all classrooms, including a library, the Studio, outdoor and covered playgrounds, an outdoor classroom, a music room, a gathering area for large groups, and a Piazza designed for the Preschool's youngest children.
All of the Preschool’s spaces are designed to create a comfortable atmosphere that encourages safe exploration, allowing children to discover, make friends, and learn. It is within this environment that educators seek to create a sense of community built on trust and respect as well as develop imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills capacity.
The Studio, inspired by the Atelier (a workroom or artist’s studio) in the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, provides a place for children to master a variety of artistic techniques, including painting, drawing, and working in clay – all symbolic languages. The Studio also assists adults in understanding the processes by which children learn.
More than a place for arts and crafts, the Studio is a laboratory for thinking and making connections – a place to learn that thinking can be expressed through materials. In the Studio, children experience the freedom to experiment with various materials and learn their characteristics and capabilities. By exposing students to a variety of mediums and techniques through both short and long-term projects, the Studio supports playful, open-ended (and often messy) experiences with sensory materials.
Studio teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to create experiences that reinforce classroom projects and assist the teachers with developing and supplying mini art studios in each classroom, providing students with art experiences every day.
Music, Drama and Movement
At the Preschool, music and movement are incorporated into daily classroom experiences. Teachers integrate music, drama, and movement into the program throughout the day to complement the investigations and culture of the classroom.
Additionally, educators lead the children in Music class. The teachers blend unique instruments, movement, sensory experiences, and dramatic play to build a musical component into classroom projects.