The youngest of our students here at Ursuline Academy are filled with the spirit of the very first Ursuline Sisters. Our program is one of exploration, service, and growth. Our toddlers enter into a new environment that they are quite unsure of but are welcomed into this new world with the love and guidance of our teachers. Our Early Childhood Learning Center is a safe, loving environment where children can explore and express themselves freely knowing that they can ask questions, investigate, and explore without hesitation. This is the first step that will lead them into a project-based learning environment.
Our toddler investigations begin with the teachers observing and interacting with the children. Each part of the day is filled with wonder, inquiry, and excitement. We start our day with a morning invitation which is created to ignite a spark of interest, require some higher order thinking, or it may just be to relax and have fun. Our invitations may be a combination of natural materials, things that you may find around the house, or something as simple as a toy. Our invitations allow us to watch and learn different aspects of how the children are developing; whether it be fine/large motor, cognitive, language, math, science or social skills.
Our Morning Invitations are truly just the beginning; it might even take us on small group adventure to the garden. The garden is shared by all in the Early Childhood Program and each level has a section that they are responsible for. We meet with the children and introduce the idea of a garden and let them explore through their five senses.
Cooking is also an activity we happily engage in every week and it encompasses a wide range of skill sets. As a school family, we freshly prepare the food to be shared with our friends. While cooking, the children learn math skills by using measuring tools, science through baking and talking about the different ingredients, social skills by taking turns, and community by sharing.
The children are always doing research in their natural environment and the best time to do some free exploration is during our free play time. The classroom is a wonderful area filled with many treasures to explore. We as teachers position ourselves in each section of the classroom to guide, nurture, and tap into what the children might be thinking. Whether it be housekeeping, the reading, science, or the art activities of the day, there are lots of things to explore and investigate, and plenty of opportunities to create masterpieces.
The entire school year is a developing time to prepare the children by giving them the knowledge to explore and investigate. This will lead them to their future in the Early Childhood Project Approach way of learning.