Early Childhood Program
Our early childhood programs are offered Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 1:00pm for all, or 3:20pm for those 3 years and over. Afterschool care is available until 5:30pm.
For the 2018-2019 school year, we have two mixed-age kindergartens and one mixed-age nursery class.
A few 2-day spaces for 3 year-olds are available in the mixed-age nursery and a few 4 and 5 day spaces are available in the mixed-age kindergartens for 4.5 – 6 year-olds.
Contact Cindy Schretlen, Director of Admissions at (610) 982-5606 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The calendar follows a typical school year, beginning in September and finishing in early June.
Children are first eligible to enroll at 2 years 9 months. Children who turn 3 by June first are generally enrolled 3 or more days per week
Children who turn 4 by June first are enrolled 4 or more days per week
Children who turn 5 by June first are enrolled 5 days per week
For children 3 years and up, there is an option for either full or half day enrollment.
“Through self-initiated play, children create new learning experiences essential to healthy mental, emotional and social development.”
—Dr. David Elkind, Child Psychologist and author
Home-like ◦ What smells so good? ◦ I wish I could stay. ◦ How beautiful! Sigh… These are things we often hear when parents first see our early childhood classrooms. Our teachers create rooms with a feeling of warmth and simple beauty, filled with an abundance of natural objects that invite imagination and interaction through free play. This environment, together with the wondrous world of the outdoors, provides endless material for the important work of young children: play.
The structure and routines of our nursery and mixed-age kindergartens are largely the same, appropriately increasing the length or complexity of various activities or tasks as the children mature. Every day is infused with a predictable sequence; each week has its rotation of activities and each season embraces appropriate activities and celebrations – all of which are carefully crafted to provide a sense of security, confidence and delight: the very best atmosphere for healthy development and learning.
All of the rich, purpose-filled activities listed below foster healthy growth physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally to provide a firm foundation for future learning and development. They provide the very medium through which children develop gross and fine motor skills, acquire an appreciation of language, cultivate flexible thought, learn & practice positive social skills, and build self-awareness and self-esteem.
Creative Play 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 and 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.
Life Skills 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.
Artistic Activities 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.
“Pushing skills before children are biologically ready sets them up to fail.”—M. Baker, M.D. – Executive Director – Gesell Institute of Human Development