St. Thomas More Preschool has a child-centered rather than an adult-directed program. The program is based on sound principles of child development and early childhood education. Preschool activities are planned to develop independence, enhance motor skills, encourage creative thinking and promote ability to cooperate with others. Children learn best through concrete activities that they can direct. Teachers of young children should teach by asking, not telling. When children can discover answers for themselves, they learn more effectively than when they are told answers by the teacher.
A classroom in which children are encouraged to direct their own learning is often called a child-centered classroom. A child-centered classroom is set up with centers, which are special areas of investigation that children visit at different times during the day. To have enough room there is a limit to the number of children in each center. During the year some centers will change, while others will be replenished.
In the centers the children will learn to explore materials, make predictions, test predictions, come to their own conclusions, record their ideas and share them with others. The teacher will lead them to further discovery with open-ended questions and support.
Much of what you see in the centers looks like games and play. We use play as a method of instruction. Through the activities and games the children construct their own learning. This is not the same thing as free play when children can choose whatever they want to do. There will be free play time during the day, but most of the day will be preplanned activities with a purpose.
Preschoolers need to use their senses to learn. They are not at a stage where they can sit in a desk and just hear about something, or see a picture of it and know what it is about. We use play as a method of instruction because play is concrete, first hand and active. The skills taught are not just taught once and dropped, but taught and reviewed again in different activities and discussions.
Our curriculum includes sharing and conversation time; stories, songs, and finger plays; creative art activities and crafts; games and large muscle activities; food preparation; science and nature activities; exposure to shapes, colors, numbers, letters, music, and exposure to the French language; and celebration of birthdays and holidays.
Daily outdoor activities are very important for young children and are planned every day, weather permitting. It is our policy that children who are well enough to come to school are well enough to go outdoors. If children are dressed properly, weather conditions should not pose any health risk.