Our preschool programs lay the necessary foundation for children to blossom into independent learners. They have been designed to ensure that children entering our kindergarten program can hit the ground running. Fostering curiosity, creativity, love of learning, independence, social readiness, emotional awareness, respect for self, community and the environment, agency for exploration, ability to work through long blocks of time, development of fine and gross motor skills and math and language readiness are the goals of our three year preschool curriculum.
The strong bonds that our teachers develop with the students help the children feel secure and empowered to forge ahead. The primary areas of focus in the pre-K 2 classroom are the development of self-care, inter-personal relationships, healthy work habits, emotional intelligence and communication skills. We pursue these objectives through careful modeling as well as direct instruction. As students move to the pre-K 3 program, they begin to develop their focus, fine motor skills and understanding of the world around them. Both direct instruction and self-directed experiential learning are used at this level to get students ready to tackle more abstract tasks that will keep growing in complexity and challenge.
To meet these needs, we borrow extensively from four leading early childhood education philosophies: Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Krishnamurti. These approaches grew out of a strong desire to move education away from the factory model that churned out obedient workers to a system that promoted active learning, self-reliance, an ability to think and reason for themselves and compassion and respect for peers, community and nature. They were built on the belief that the unique gifts of each child can be best developed through nurturing the child’s inner senses, faculties and latent capacities. All four approaches also view teachers as scientists and artists who guide and facilitate the development of the whole child with warmth, kindness and respect. Beyond this high-level alignment, there are also important differences between them and this is why we use a blended curriculum and not rely only on one or two of these approaches.
We believe children have absorbent minds and learn more deeply through both observations and interactions with environment and materials. Our well-prepared classrooms inspire a love of exploration and learning so children can comfortably work through uninterrupted blocks of time on practical life, sensorial, math, science and language projects. And, to build independence and autonomy, our guides are mindful about providing only the right level of scaffolding.
We recognize that children are innately curious and that they thrive in an environment where they have agency. Topics that generate a significant amount of interest and uncertainty are therefore taken up as short or long-term projects. We also take to heart the Reggio Emilia precept that environment is the third teacher. To make learning visible, we decorate classrooms with student work and invest in careful documentation of the growth of both our children and teachers. We also subscribe to the view that children speak with a hundred languages (art, music, drama, …). Our guides therefore work closely with parents to understand the needs and interests of each child.
We do not believe that all of a child’s work has to be rooted in reality or structure. Artistic endeavors such as music and drama, fantasy and unstructured creative play are also important elements of our children’s education. Our guides are trained to identify, encourage and showcase our children’s expressions of imagination and creativity. Our art and foreign language programs also encourage creativity and ingenuity.
Educating the educator and developing sensory and emotional awareness to nourish the inner life of children and teachers are quintessential Krishnamurti school values that resonate with us. Our yoga and meditation program and daily Sankalpas and reflections foster mindfulness for strengthening these vital skills of careful listening, observing and internalizing. A key purpose is to help children learn how to identify biases and conditioning. Helping children relate well to peers, extended community and nature is another value that we share with the Reggio Emilia and Krishnamurti philosophies. We also value outdoor exploration as an important vehicle for promoting respect for nature and the sense of interconnectedness.
While we draw from all these proven approaches, we make them our own by allowing room for exploration, which may include using the Montessori materials in a different way for example, or encouraging collaboration when children are afraid to take risks, or modifying a lesson plan to follow our students’ interests.
The following table is a summary of the key aspects of our curriculum and how they have been inspired by the Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Krishnamurti approaches.
|children are very curious and thrive in an environment where they have agency||X||X||X||X|
|projects inspired by children's interests||X|
|explicit programming to develop sensory appreciation, fine and gross motor skills||X||X|
|explicit programming to develop imagination and creativity||X|
|mindfulness for sensory and emotional awareness||X|
|building emotional and social intelligence||X||X||X|
|explicit programming for intellectual, physical and psychological development||X||X|
|implicit learning through prepared classroom materials||X|
|large uninterrupted blocks of time to foster purposeful learning||X|
|developing a reflective mind that cares for itself, environment and the community||X||X|
|school serves as a community where everyone is a learner||X|
|outdoor exploration for fostering respect for nature and imaginative play||X||X||X|
|documentation of student achievement through a portfolio and classroom decoration||X|
|experienced mentors who have a keen sense of a child's learning edges||X||X||X||X|
Our daily schedule is: