Birchwood School of Hawken’s early childhood program attends to young children in their burgeoning engagement with the world around them, nurturing their curiosity and fostering the competency human beings require for self-worth.
Rather than claiming one overarching theory (such as Montessori or HighScope), our program flows from our mission to address the unique potential and growth pace of individual children. Teachers deftly employ time-tested pedagogies which will meet the needs of particular children at different times.
Close observation of children’s interests and abilities allows teachers to plan for the next step of individual children’s growth. The play-based curriculum provides space for learning to emerge from children’s interests as well as from worlds introduced to them by their teachers and peers.
The school day includes extended open-ended play time both indoors and outdoors, where they can dig in the dirt or climb up a slide. Art and music expression are integral to a literacy rich environment.
Children often engage in loose parts play, which allows them to study a concrete object, such as sticks or buttons, through play and engagement with various forms and types of the object. This type of play encourages children to make connections with other knowledge they possess and begin to create new paths of understanding: the hallmarks of creative thinking and problem-solving.
Additionally, if children demonstrate readiness and interest, they may begin to read and develop spatial and numerical understanding to their capacity; we do not ask them to wait until kindergarten.
We divide our early childhood program into two rooms:
Seedlings – 3-4 year olds
Sprouts – 4-5 year olds
Two teachers oversee up to 14 Seedlings, and two teachers oversee no more than 16 Sprouts. Children loop with the same teachers and remain in the same room for their two early childhood years.
The day starts with drop-off beginning at 8 a.m. The class comes together to start their day at 8:30 a.m. Children rest during the day and eat a lunch and two snacks provided by their parents. Children are dismissed at 3:20 p.m.
Before care is available beginning at 7 a.m. and after care is open from 3:20 p.m. until 6 p.m.