Our ENVIRONMENT is the best teacher at The Growing Room!
At The Growing Room we have taken a very purposeful approach to planning the learning environment for our students ages 2.5 to 5 years. We work to make each area of the classroom an inviting place where our students can learn to make good decisions and work well with others. Our goal is to foster meaningful learning and social growth in our students while making TGR a fun place to be.
Our classrooms are specifically divided into centers where, during our daily “free choice” time, children roam freely choosing the activities that interest them. Students may work independently, with peers, or with the guidance of one of our educators. Working in centers allows students the opportunity to explore their own interests while growing socially, learning new concepts, as well as developing personal skills such as time management and self-regulation.
We have a wonderful team of educators dedicated to helping our students be successful. But, our environment is the best teacher at the Growing Room! As educators, we support our young friends as they navigate relationships and explore their world. In our classrooms, our students learn to be creative, mathematical, scientific, and independent thinkers as well as confident, kind and respectful human beings.
The Art Center: In the art center our students are encouraged to express themselves and create using a variety of materials such as paint, clay, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, fabric, pencils etc. Through art activities such as painting, collage and sculpting students express their creativity, feelings and imagination! Unstructured exploration and experimentation with art materials allows students to develop important skills that help facilitate learning in all areas. Students develop fine motor, math and language skills and practice critical thinking that are good for cognitive development. Open-ended art exploration is part of the TGR preschool experience every day.
The Block Center: The lessons learned in this popular area of our classroom are fundamental to the growth and development of our students. Each day, students can be found building skyscrapers, garages for cars or even an imaginary zoo. Blocks help students learn socially, physically, intellectually and creatively. Through block play students learn how to work with friends cooperatively to build creative structures, to share ideas and respect the work of others. Block play not only builds imagination it also boosts spatial reasoning and enhances the understanding of many basic math skills.
House Corner: House Corner or our Dramatic play center, has taken many forms- A Farmer’s Market, A Space Shuttle, A Doctor’s office or a home just like their own. During dramatic play students can safely be something or someone new. They can be a fantasy superhero, a princess having a tea party or imitate family members making dinner, writing a grocery list or caring for a baby. Dramatic play teaches self-regulation and encourages language development. Children learn to cooperate with others, resolve conflict and compromise. The games and roles played in House Corner can build confidence and relieve the emotional tension of real life experiences. As educators, we encourage and support pretend play as an important way to learn and grow.
Math and Manipulatives Center: In our math center students explore counting and numeracy through a variety of counting materials while developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. We have many buckets of manipulatives that students use to explore patterning, sorting, measurement, problem solving etc. Our youngest students may line up counters neatly in a row, while older students may begin sorting them by size, shape or other attributes.
Cooperation and self regulation are built through playing board games, sharing materials and making puzzles. Daily investigation with math manipulatives increases our student’s understanding of basic math skills while preparing them to learn more advanced mathematical concepts in their future education.
Libraries, Writing and Literacy Centers: At The Growing Room we provide our students with a literacy rich environment that fosters a child’s emergent knowledge base through the use of environmental print. We find opportunities to facilitate the development of our student’s literacy learning in our libraries, writing centers and through exploration of alphabet knowledge materials.
Our libraries offer opportunities to find a cozy and quiet spot to read a book alone or with a friend. Students are given comfy couches and “Reading Tubs” full of pillows and blankets! We have a wide selection of children’s books on a variety of topics and our educators incorporate children’s literature into our curriculum each day. And, of course, we are always ready to “get cozy” and read with a small group of students.
In our writing center, students are encouraged to practice writing their names and friends names, letters of the alphabet and basic words that reinforce our topic of study. They are provided a variety of writing materials and can often be found making books or cards to take home. In our mixed-age classrooms, students of varying ages are often found side by side in the writing center. An older student may be writing their names and several small words while a younger child may imitate the same activity by holding the pencil and making shapes and lines on the paper. Each is an important stage in writing development.
Science and Sensory Center: Our science and sensory center offers students the opportunity to examine, sort and observe nature and the world around them. The shelves and bins contain a variety of items for students to study, measure and compare. The materials available may change depending on the season or topic of study. Activities are meant to be open-ended and to foster the hands-on exploration and study of science. Our educators find opportunities to nurture each child’s natural interest and sense of wonder by encouraging questions and research to develop a broader understanding of basic science concepts.
TGR Outdoor Spaces/Gardens: Each of our locations has an outdoor learning environment that is meant to enrich each student’s experience by providing opportunities for structured and unstructured outdoor play. Temperatures and weather permitting, our students spend time outside daily running, jumping and balancing as well as digging and playing in open-ended creative ways.
Educators may also plan more organized activities that can be done outdoors or opportunities for art or science exploration. For example, each year students at The Growing Room plant seeds and explore the science of gardening. We spend time learning to take care of the plants and nurture their growth. In the summer and fall months, students eat the food that is grown for snack. Gardening is an opportunity for TGR kids to plan, organize and be responsible for plants as well learning where food comes from.