Students and teachers gather on the carpet for morning meeting where we begin by greeting each other, engage in conversations about our day, warm up our muscles and minds with songs and movement activities, forecast the weather, develop an understanding of time by working with the calendar, discuss the day’s schedule, have prayer time, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The key to an effective morning meeting is student participation – it is essential that students have opportunities to lead their peers in different elements of the morning meeting to build confidence and gain experience with public speaking.
Before the students move into Center Time, they engage in planning time. Planning gives children experience with forethought and aids them in making purposeful choices during their center time. There are various ways planning happens in the classroom: talking, drawing, and demonstrating how they plan to use a material are just a few ways students can engage in planning. Students share which centers they plan to explore, which classmates they will spend time with, and if they plan to create something, which materials they will use. Planning is facilitated by teacher, and eventually peer, questions to help students develop a thorough idea of how they will spend their Center Time.
Centers are designed to encourage dramatic play, creative construction, math and literacy skills, science exploration, fine motor development, and social-emotional development. Centers and materials change frequently. The role of the teacher during center time is to converse with students about their play in a meaningful way. Teachers help students stretch their play, solve problems with materials and peers, discover new ways to engage with materials, and bring academic objectives into the student’s play in an authentic way.
Students review center time by talking with teachers and peers about what materials they used, who they played with, what worked well, what didn't work so well, and what they might try differently the next time. This time allows for children to practice using the skill of reflection. If a student has a multi-day project in process, they will discuss what they are going to add to it the next day.
Stories, songs, and interactive activities related to the current unit of study are explored during the second circle time of the day. This time provides the opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of the unit of study while expanding their knowledge of letters, sounds, rhymes, sight words, and other skills necessary to build readers.
Pre-kindergarten units of study vary year-to-year and depend on the interests of the students in the program. Units of study that the children enjoy include Marvelous Me – a unit designed around self-discovery, Community Helpers, Holidays, Seasons, Animals, Space, and more.
This time is reserved for a hands-on, interactive activity related to the current unit of study. This activity can include many areas of development such as math, literacy, science, creative problem solving, collaboration, fine, or gross motor skills. Small group activities are often differentiated to meet the learning needs of the each child in the class. For example, students may be responding to a book read at Circle Time. One student may be developmentally ready to represent their understanding by drawing a picture. Another student may draw a picture and label the picture using beginning sounds. And yet another student may draw a picture and write a sentence describing their understanding. It is important that students are engaged in work in which the challenge is achievable yet may require some teacher support.
Lunch is delivered to the classroom and served to the students by their teachers. Lunch is an important time in which students have time to socialize with peers and teachers, set the table, practice table manners, serve one another, and assist in the clean-up duties. There is a "taste of the day” which encourages children to give new foods a try each day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are provided with every meal in addition to the options of a salad, yogurt, or a variety of sandwiches. Family style dining in the PreK classroom prepares students to join the entire student body for lunch in the Dining Hall once in Kindergarten.
During rest time, students quiet their bodies and rest their minds. Teachers are in close proximity to provide comfort and assistance. Students who do not fall asleep are offered quiet activities to do on their rest mat.
Depending on what students do after school, the teacher escorts students to their respective locations for dismissal. Aftercare teachers greet students who stay in the after-school program. Walkers are escorted to the Theatre and wait to be signed out by a parent. Car riders are escorted to the Dining Hall or Media Center to be picked up in the car line.