At the heart of our Early Childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to the healthy development of all young children and vital to the maturation of executive function and socialization. Ample play time, both inside and out, is part of each morning. Open-ended toys made from natural materials encourage children to create unlimited imaginative universes with their friends, which requires negotiation, patience, leadership, collaboration and self-regulation.
Time in Nature
River Valley’s seven acres provide abundant space for exploration and discovery. Climbing on rocks, sledding down the snowy hill, digging in the sandboxes, uncovering the world hidden beneath a flat stone, sloshing through the front playground’s stream in spring all encourage in our children a life-long appreciation for the natural world, while pushing them to hone their large motor skills.
Story Time & Puppetry
Story time and puppetry play important roles in the River Valley early childhood classrooms. When children hear stories, they become better listeners, their attention span, memory and ability to sequence improve, their vocabulary expands and they begin to understand characterization, setting, and the art of telling a good story. Most importantly, we believe that listening to stories and watching puppet shows enriches, indeed builds, children’s imagination. “Thinking in pictures” is the bedrock of a successful, lifetime reader and creative problem solver.
The children are active participants in all aspects of the day: measuring flour and kneading dough for bread, preparing vegetables for soup, setting the table and serving classmates at snack time, mending and maintaining beloved classroom playthings—all carried out with as much independence as possible on the part of the children. These activities build confidence and gratitude, foster an attitude of respect for their environment and an understanding of responsibility to their community.
Children explore color with wondrous liquid water colors, model with warm, sweet-smelling beeswax, finger-knit, felt with wet wool, and create beautiful seasonal crafts using items from nature, wool felt, silk, and wood. The ability to create objects that are both beautiful and functional is a lifelong gift and provides a foundation for increased fine motor skills, focused attention, critical thinking and problem solving.
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972
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