The early childhood division serves students from Preschool (3’s) through Kindergarten. These early years, and first experiences in school are critical in the development of young children. We are attentive to the whole child and believe that every student’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual development must be nurtured. We tap into students’ interests and abilities and challenge them to take risks, to try new activities and enjoy the learning process, even when it may be difficult or frustrating.
Our teachers provide a rich classroom environment that stimulates curiosity and helps instill a love of learning. Classes are balanced with teacher-directed activities and “teachable moments” that are spontaneous and often happen through insightful self-discovery. We believe that children must be active learners, and that education should be joyful and challenging. Play and meaningful work are key elements of the early childhood experience. Honesty, integrity, kindness, personal responsibility and respect for others define the “St. Luke’s Way.” Through the support of families, faculty and staff help guide students to a better understanding of these values. Classroom jobs, service projects, care of classroom pets and gardening are some of the many opportunities for service learning and character development.
The Preschool and Pre-K curriculum is based on recommended best practice for young children. The developmentally appropriate program blends: language-rich activities that help children build strong receptive and expressive communication skills, early mathematic skills that focus on problem solving and number sense, science activities that are discovery based, and project-based learning that allows students to deepen their understanding of the world around them. Equally important for children at this age is social, emotional, physical and spiritual growth. These domains of development are considered and included in the planning of the curriculum. Learning how to communicate needs, resolve differences, work through difficult or new tasks, share materials, take turns, be part of a team, show compassion and practice self-discipline are all part of the experience of being a part of a class. In addition to the class-based learning opportunities, students have enrichment classes in Library, Movement, Music, Physical Education, Religion and Spanish.
Children in Preschool and Pre-K have a dedicated multi-sensory playground designed specifically for their age. A playhouse, dramatic play stage, easels, tricycle path, musical instruments, sandbox and other age appropriate materials are available for exploration and free play. Four gardening boxes support the Jr. Master Gardener program followed in the curriculum. Preschool and Pre-K teachers are certified Jr. Master Gardener Specialists.
The kindergarten core curriculum is an integrated approach to teaching with emphasis on language arts and mathematics. A robust integration of children’s literature, guided reading and phonemic awareness helps build students’ early reading skills. Handwriting Without Tears is used to strengthen handwriting skills. Science and social studies are incorporated into planned units of study. The Everyday Math program is a spiraled curriculum emphasizing problem solving and critical thinking skills. Cooperative, small-group learning, outdoor play and creative expression in music, movement, and art are part of the daily routine. Students have enrichment classes in Art, Library, Music, Physical Education, Religion, Technology and Spanish.
Preschool-Kindergarten students attend weekly religion classes and chapel services. This helps students grow spiritually in character and faith and connects them to the larger community.
The hallmark of St. Luke’s Episcopal School is the relationships that we build with each family. We understand the importance of these connections in helping each child achieve his or her personal best. Planned opportunities for parent involvement in the early childhood division are abundant, and are balanced with helping students exercise their need for independence.
We believe that young children are most successful when they learn in an environment that is warm and supportive. This early, positive school experience is the first step in helping students transition into the lower school division.