Learning Through Play
ABOUT KINDERGARTEN PREP AND BEYOND
Kindergarten Prep and Beyond used to be a licensed small home childcare facility for three years in the Bay Area (May 2016 - Dec 2019). Programs included a Preschool/Pre-K Program, a Before and After School Program for school agers, Camps, and Drop In Hourly Childcare.
In January 2020, Kindergarten Prep and Beyond moved to Elk Grove and became a license exempt facility. That means we provide in-person childcare services to no more than one family other than our own, at a given time. Other programs that do not include childcare and supervision are also offered.
We were going to apply for a childcare license in Mid-March to care for more families. Coincidentally, the pandemic shut everything down at that time too. I devoted my time to my family during this time. I learned the pros and cons of virtual programs, and developed a program that addressed the cons. The new Virtual Preschool/Pre-K Program opens in August 2020.
To help children ages two through twelve build and enthusiasm for learning. To help children become confident, competent, responsible, and considerate of others. To provide for families' needs by providing "drop-in" hourly childcare anytime.
We strive to provide children with an awesome childhood experience. Well-roundedness and balance are the goals here. We offer a healthy mix of academic learning, learning through play, and learning from experiences at frequent field trips. Our motto is, "Experience Fun with Academics in a Caring Environment."
It's in children's long term best interest to be well prepared for their next stage of life. We hope that children will feel confident and competent the moment they begin a new chapter. We believe that how someone feels about themselves sets the foundation for success throughout their life.
I developed my modular curriculum to allow personalized learning. As I get to know a child, I learn what they need to learn, and which teaching materials best suit them. I focus on areas that children need the most help in. Children learn at different rates, and their learning needs to respect that. Each child has their own drawer of hand picked activities. Most of the time, children get to choose what they would like to work on first, next and for how long. In this way, children get to take responsibility for their own learning. When children feel relaxed, and without pressure, they actually learn better. I show parents how to do personalized learning activities with their children. In this way, I'm able to help support all the children in a timely fashion, and during program hours only.
I use my creativity and flexibility to build a child's interest. When children are interested in a subject, then self-motivation naturally follows. I strive to recognize their efforts and attributes, as opposed to the end result. This way, children naturally strive for their personal best without the distraction of external pressure to perform. There is a balance. Too much recognition can cause a child to become motivated externally rather than internally. This counteracts responsibility. I also teach "tips and tricks" for success, including but not limited to managing short attention spans, making school-work seem easier, how to research effectively and efficiently, explaining the whys behind their questions, etc.
There are many developmental benefits of learning through play. Some examples include neurological development, problem solving skills, social skills, pre-math skills, emotion regulation, creativity, and so on. I believe that toys double as a learning tool, and that children can learn so much more, learning from many.
Learning from field trip experiences gives children that vacation-feeling. Children get inspired to think, and create. That feeling of freedom recharges children, getting them ready for more focused learning the next day. Field trips can be half-day or full-day, on any weekday or weekend.
Young children respond best when they feel understood. I can easily put myself in a child's shoes and see their point of view. I use my intuition and memories from when I was a child on a consistent basis to select the best resources to motivate children in reaching goals.
Children get to participate in activities that develop fine and gross motor skills such as Arts & Crafts, Music & Movement, Language Awareness & Literacy, Social Skills, Dramatic Play, and Math & Science.
Children are encouraged to be confident and have fun. Rules are important for us to be happy, healthy, safe, and strong (inner strength). We provide examples when the opportunity arises, and we emphasize that we care about the child's best interest.
How I incorporate Montessori:
Mostly child directed
Mixed aged classroom
How KPB is different than Montessori:
Children choose from activities and materials that teach skills they need practice in, to prepare for kindergarten. I believe this is important because all subjects are required in public school, regardless of whether or not a child is interested in the subject. Children choose what they would like to do first, and next (except when they’re waiting their turn, or something like that). Children choose how long to work on the activity for (unless it’s time to transition to snack time, or something like that). In my experience, children will gravitate to one activity more than the other, and it changes in phases. I am familiar with Kindergarten common core expectations, and I keep in communication with parents regarding their child’s progress.
I don’t teach a systematic way of play, or “work.” I encourage children to learn and explore as much as possible without my input. This way, they learn problem solving skills, creativity, independence, etc. They learn without too many limits (unless it affects health, safety, morals, etc.) I value teamwork, socialization, and exploration. Their play isn’t confined to a certain small area, such as a small rug. I don’t believe this is natural.
How I incorporate Waldorf:
Certain Fridays are set aside for Science
Certain days are set aside for certain field trips
I strategize ways to encourage and motivate children to love learning
I teach an area when children are ready (typically when they show interest).
How KPB is different than Waldorf:
I do teach academics, unlike Waldorf. It’s personalized, so it’s just challenging enough, and at the right level, for each child. I do my best to use fun materials, so learning academics feels more like play instead of work (since young children learn through play)
I do incorporate the use of technology. Angela C. Santomero, M.A., “Kids who were raised with a diet of good, quality media have expansive vocabularies, go to college, and score better on standardized tests than kids wo didn’t watch educational media.”
How I incorporate Reggio Emilia:
My curriculum that we do as a group (not with the personalized learning), is based on the current interests of the group at the specific time. When a child asks a question, we dive into learning more about it.
I try to not involve myself too much in children’s free play.
I learn alongside children, and model curiosity and a love of learning.
Parents are involved in their child’s education and experience
Learning by trying, failing, and doing.
How KPB is different than Reggio Emilia:
I don’t require myself to document the same way.
I don’t put many pictures on the walls (if any).
The environment is different in that children don’t get to see “people in a town square” outside the windows. However, once in a while, children can come with me to run an errand. I try to make it as educational as possible.
In a nutshell:
I believe that children shouldn’t be exposed to just one type of learning style. They should have it all. Why not? The way I teach academics is similar to Montessori, but the materials and method are different. It’s personalized, too. I offer a play-based environment like Waldorf and Reggio Emilia, and let children play naturally. I encourage and promote a love of learning and exploring. I offer developmentally appropriate activities. Some activities and field trips are on a routine like Waldorf. I serve mixed ages like Montessori and Waldorf. The group curriculum is ever changing and spontaneous like Reggio Emilia. I enjoy offering a variety of ways for children to learn and explore. Why stick to one philosophy when children can get a mix of it all?
Welcome to Kindergarten Prep and Beyond. Call or Text to book a tour/interview. 650-450-0851.