PRE-SCHOOL PROGRAM/PRE-K ACADEMY
The Carrot Patch Early Learning Center provides a Reggio-inspired setting for pre-schoolers aged 3 to 5 years of age. We offer a carefully crafted project-based curriculum centered around the child's known world with a special focus on nature, and designed to challenge and inspire each child to stretch and grow. Low teacher-student ratios allow our professional staff to tailor our program to the individual needs of each child, ensuring that the particular challenges they encounter ultimately lead to success. This experience of positive outcomes rewarding their efforts enhances children's self-confidence and naturally promotes a joy for learning!
Teachers choose thematic units that meaningfully interweave the domains of development, taking into account the interests of the particular children in their class. Explorations begin with group brainstorming about a given topic and a recorded list of the children's "wonderings" to help guide the upcoming study. These theme-based studies are not scheduled on an arbitrary timetable, but instead last as long as the topic continues to resonate with the group. Within each unit children have an opportunity to explore science, math, language and literacy, the arts, as well as enhancing social-emotional, critical-thinking, and physical skills.
In Hamden, preschoolers enjoy daily opportunities for learning, exploration and imaginative free play in our wooded outdoor nature classroom in all seasons. In Clinton, frequent exploratory walks to the surrounding woods, meadows, marina, and downtown area are rich in place-based learning. In all schools, outdoor education is a primary focus: frequently the outdoors are brought inside, and indoor activities move outside!
Children enjoy daily access to a creative arts center with a wide variety of materials from watercolors to clay. Music is interwoven throughout, providing daily experiences with elements of vocal and instrumental music. Coaches from Jump Bunch visit twice monthly to bring sports and physical fitness activities to the class. Yoga mats are available for group participation. Visits from a nature and gardening instructors from institutions like Common Ground and Connecticut Forest and Park Association are also a regular part of the preschool experience.
Developing and enhancing social-emotional competence is also central to learning and working in our community. Peaceful negotiation, cooperation and communication are encouraged and modeled by our sensitive, caring teachers. Children learn to make use of our Peace Corner to take time for reflection, and to practice their budding peer mediation skills. Weekly "feelings day" provides opportunities for children to acknowledge, understand, and navigate the feelings they may be experiencing.
The Pre-K Academy is a special space within the larger preschool classroom just for children eligible for kindergarten in the following year. Pre-K Academy students meet in small groups each week to engage in more advanced explorations, and frequently have opportunities to share their learning with younger peers. We prepare our pre-kindergarteners for the rigors of their upcoming educational settings by enhancing their critical thinking in creative ways--without flash cards, "dittos", or drills. Our teachers inspire in their students an even deeper love of learning by challenging them to explore, think and grow in interesting new ways.