3s & 4s Mixed–Open Classroom
Research tells us that that it takes young children at least nine months to bond with a teacher. The Open Classroom allows for children to do just that, as mixed ages of 3s and 4s may stay as long as two years in a half-day program.
Each child is assigned to a homeroom group in which children enjoy stories and circle activities. After arrival and a brief welcoming circle, the Open Classes enjoy the playground to get out “the wiggles.” Then, students are ready for snack time and focused for Center Time, during which children are assigned (by means of a colored tag necklace) to one of seven learning centers (math, language arts/literacy/handwriting, science/social science, art, dramatic play, blocks and gross motor skills). They quickly learn to associate the color of their tags with specific kinds of activities. After an interval, the children are permitted to change centers and choose where they wish to visit next.
As children rotate to various centers, teaching staff are available to work with individuals and small groups as they explore manipulatives and multi-sensory materials. These are designed to allow children to direct and personalize their own unique learning experiences. For example, one child may take a set of colored blocks and make a simple tower or configuration disregarding the colors. Another child may take the same blocks and construct a pattern alternating the colors. Though the materials are the same, the outcomes may be different, though unique and developmentally appropriate for each learner. Field trips, special programs, art, music/movement, and sign language supplement learning, as well.
Through the Center Time approach, the Open Class builds a strong foundation for future learning in any school environment.