Classroom 3 is where many Encompass students experience their first day of school. It is home to Encompass toddler playgroups and 3- and 4-year old preschool. The teaching team in classroom 3 includes Miss Amy, Miss Hannah and Miss Nikki with help from Miss Jessica. Encompass students benefit from an incredibly low teacher-to-student ratio (6:1) that encourages every child to discover learning at his or her own pace and in their own unique way.
Have you been able to spend time in your child’s classroom? We hope you learn something new from this article—and that you join us as a volunteer in the classroom soon, armed with new insight into how the classroom is organized and how play is an essential part of learning! Our parents are always welcome to join us and you can read this blog post for ideas to get the most out of your classroom time.
The first thing you should know as you peek into any Encompass classroom is that it’s more than a dream playroom. The Encompass early learning program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC) which places our early learning program in the top 3% of all preschools in the United States. The 10 NAEYC program standards are evident in Classroom 3 as soon as you enter. NAEYC believes a “high-quality environment welcomes children; engages children in a variety of activities; provides space for individual, small-group, and large-group activities; and generally supports the program’s philosophy and goals. Ultimately, the physical environment must convey values and messages about who is welcomed, what is important, and what the beliefs are about how children learn.”
Not only are Encompass students having a fantastic time in a fun environment, the Encompass early learning staff is providing the gold standard in high-quality preschool education and environment through its NAEYC accreditation.
This looks like a fun room–but how does it enhance learning and development?
As a student in this classroom, the first thing to do is to find and put on a name tag (name recognition) and proceed to a cubby to place personal items (using name recognition and a photo to find their own cubby). Now the schedule allows for free play while the rest of the class arrives. After free play, a meal is served which has been prepared fresh in the Encompass kitchen using local, in-season and organic ingredients (with respect for dietary restrictions). The day proceeds to circle time or the “community meeting”. Table work, crafts and outdoor play are also part of a day as well as reading (this is a great opportunity for parents to engage with the class as Mystery Reader – sign up sheet is outside the classroom).
There are many interesting learning centers within an Encompass preschool classroom:
Dramatic play area – In classroom 3, the dramatic play area changes based on feedback from the class. At the beginning of the school year, it was a baby care area and it has transformed into an imaginary doctor’s office—and it’s really detailed (my own toddler drags me in there for a check up every week during our toddler playgroup). Dramatic play is full of benefits for young children! Flexibility of thinking and self-control required for a child to take on another character and play out the role are just a few executive function skills developed when pretending. Even better, as young children build their play scripts with other children, they begin to negotiate and share ideas and build a plan for play.
Home nook – In the middle of classroom 3 is a child-sized living room and kitchen. No detail has been forgotten here—real dishes, a variety of play food and even cook books help students initiate dramatic play ideas and learn self-help skills (like cooking, setting a table, etc).
Loft – The loft area is a quiet area for reading. Only four students may be in the loft at a time (this is communicated by a sign) so they must learn to regulate their behavior in that area. As students climb to the loft, there is a multimedia drawing board where children may draw with dry-erase markers and apply dimensional magnets to the board.
Cozy corner – Every child has tough days from time to time—the cozy corner is an area for students to take a break and reset. Sensory toys, stress balls, weighted/vibrating pillows, calm down jars and posters that help identify feelings assist students who need some time to warm up to the classroom setting.
Doll house – This is a great area in the classroom for students to develop fine motor skills and express creativity through imaginary play.
Flannel board – This is a quiet area where students use the flannel board to “build” stories (currently focusing on Chicka Boom). A flannel board is a way to reinforce recalling similar events, verbal expression and vocabulary.
Manipulation & math corner – In this problem-solving area, students learn the basic concepts of math (“adding on”). There are puzzles, sorting exercises and instruments that allow for independent and team activities. Children need to slow down and really work through activities here.
Sensory bins – currently the classroom has two—one with very fine sand students can write and draw in (and manipulate tools and figurines) and one seasonal bin with dried corn kernels, acorns, leaves and other autumn treasures to discover and touch.
Writing area – All kinds of papers and writing utensils as well as scissors, glue and other materials strengthen fine motor skills and creativity. This is also a place where students can get stuck on a task and learn how to ask for help (an important skill to know). There are also easels and paint.
Table area – This is where table work can happen and also family-style meals and snacks are served. Meals are a great way to teach manners, hand washing, dental care and fine motor skills (like serving and using utensils).
Every learning center has related books right there to tie together ideas and concepts and promote literacy. Additionally, when in the classroom, everything is labeled in English, Spanish and with photos to promote literacy (and to facilitate clean up time).
Encompass has a huge outdoor learning area as well and students are encouraged to play outside daily. This outdoor time is crucial to learning! There is an uncovered and covered area as well as a separate toddler area for the little ones.
Many parents ask how they can send their student to school prepared. The teachers in classroom 3 had good suggestions:
- Apply sunscreen at home
- Pack a complete change of clothes in backpacks (accidents happen)
- Label coats, shoes, etc.
- Reinforce good hand washing and teeth brushing at home
- Boots are not required for outdoor play on rainy days (we have extras) but if you send your child with boots and expect them to be worn, please let us know
- Weather is fickle in the winter—jackets with hoods are a good idea daily
- Classrooms are always in need of extra 3- and 4T pants (in case there is an accident) – please consider donating any extras you have
- The best way to reach a teacher is via email to arrange a meeting
- If your child will be absent, please call the front office at 425.888.2777
Ways to Get Involved at Encompass
In addition to volunteering in the classroom, we hope all our parents connect with us in multiple ways for the fullest Encompass experience! Here’s how:
- Join a parent support group
- Attend monthly coffee & conversation meetings with other parents (invitations go out in backpacks)
- Read our other blog articles
- Like Encompass on Facebook
- Follow Encompass on Pinterest
- Attend a free parenting workshop every month
- Volunteer outside of the classroom
- Enroll younger children in toddler playgroups
- Get a free developmental screening if you have questions about your child’s development – call 425.888.3347
- Register for summer camp at Encompass (March)
- Register for Parent Nights Out (2nd Saturdays of every month) – call 425.888.2777