Playing with others is complex. The elements of cooperative play and friendships are the focus of everyone's work in this class. As the year begins, the teachers help children engage in play with one another. A teacher will sit with a group of children at an activity and talk about each child's play, which draws the attention of the children away from their independent play and helps them focus on those around them. Once children begin to become interested in one another, the fun of exploring group play starts.
In the Preschool class, teachers help the children learn how to join a group, how to play cooperatively, how to lead others in play and how to follow another child's ideas during a game. Teachers help children increase their tolerance for taking social risks, which strengthens their capacity to listen to the ideas of others and combine those ideas with their own so a game can expand and continue. Cooperative play is particularly difficult as it can involve sharing not only toys but also leadership of the game and newly acquired friends.
During the Preschool class, children are learning how to make a friend and how to share a friend. The teachers help the children to master the give and take of a mutually enjoyed friendship. Because friendships and group play can be emotionally challenging for young children, learning to manage the many feelings that arise when playing with others is a significant part of a child's experience in this class.
A typical daily schedule is as follows:
8:30-8:45 AM Arrival
Children arrive and play inside the classroom.
9:00-10:15 AM Free Play
The children choose between indoor and outdoor activities. There are teacher-led and open-ended tabletop activities set up inside the classroom.
10:15-10:45 AM Snack and Small Group
A healthy snack is offered at a table with a teacher and then each group of 6-7 children does an adult-directed activity together.
10:45-11:15 AM Free Play
11:15-11:35 AM Circle Time and Clean Up
A teacher leads the children in songs, stories, body movement, music, finger plays, and dramatic play. Then teachers help the children sort and put away the materials so that every child feels that he or she is a contributing member of the school community.
11:35-11:45 AM Last Story
Children gather together to share a story before saying goodbye.