At Peacock Family Services, our preschool provides content-rich programming with cognitive, social, and physical experiences for youth. We embrace the comforts of good friends, loving caregivers, and familiar routines. We provide a child-centered, developmentally appropriate environment with themed areas for dramatic play, manipulative, art, science and nature, math, language, and literacy. By providing a balanced program, honoring multiple learning styles and an anti-bias curriculum, we support the growth of the listener, speaker, reader, writer, mathematician, scientist, artist, musician, dancer, and friend within each child.
Our preschool program provides multi-age classrooms for youth 2.5 – 6 years old. We use a play-based emergent curriculum to provide activities and projects specifically planned for each individual within the group of children. Teachers design activities based on observations, keeping in mind the objectives for each child and developmental stages of each age group.
With this approach, it is possible to have each activity meet the varied developmental needs, providing learning for the entire group. Consider a teacher encouraging a group of children building with blocks. They work on the fine motor skills while adding one more block at a time. They expand language skills and understanding of math concepts by talking about the attributes of the blocks, counting the number in the tower, and considering its overall height. Each child is engaged, contributes, and benefits in their own way.
To help students develop a connection to the natural world, we have weekly Nature Nuts walks facilitated by our outdoor instructors. Our preschoolers enjoy engaging circle time, along with meals and snacks served family-style, in the mornings and afternoons. For students with us all day, we insure that there are opportunities for naps and peaceful rest. In this way, we honor Peacock’s mission to promote the healthy social and emotional development of children by providing nurturing and enriching care that help each child reach their full potential.
The Multi-age Preschool Classroom
At Peacock we group our preschoolers and pre-k students together in a multi-age classroom. We believe this type of grouping benefits all the children by fostering trusting relationships between the students and with the adults that care for them.
It has been found that in this type of grouping teachers are able to individualize instruction. Learning and development are not about the child’s specific age but the child’s pace in their stage of development. Because the teacher is not expecting all of the children to be at the same place developmentally they are better able to see where each child is and meet them there. The children are also able to see themselves as individuals, feeling good about their own accomplishments while not comparing themselves to others in the group.
We have seen that using this type of classroom grouping supports the children’s development of “pro-social behaviors.” Sharing, taking turns, and helping are some examples of these behaviors. In addition, children exhibit empathy and take care of each other in classrooms with varying ages present.
In the multi-age classroom, the children have the opportunity to teach and learn from each other. The older children are able to be mentors to the younger students. Teaching a new skill to the younger children in the group reinforces that skill for the older child. In their time at Peacock, the younger children have the opportunity to grow into the role of mentor for new and younger children coming into the classroom.