We want the majority of your child’s day to be filled with the “magic” of free time for playing, relaxing, and exploration! Free play can open up limitless development socially and personally for your little one. It is also the most significant factor in successful socialization as your child practices how to use language, emotional regulation, and social skills to interact with friends and adults. We honor this treasured time in your child’s life with harmony between structured learning, self-directed learning, and time for relaxing and fun play.
The childcare rooms have been “divided” into specific areas: one for the structured academic periods, one for both play and the Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf programs, and one for our “quiet area” that is calm play and reading. This spacial delineation helps children focus and transition during the daily schedule. Our large backyard area has been designed for organized sports and free exploration; it includes a garden, play house, play structure, sandbox, sports equipment, outdoor toys, and a many places to relax or socialize.
Nap time begins with curtains closed in our quiet area, a story read to the children, and calming music played in the background. Children are provided low cots with their own linens (laundered here weekly) to nap on. If a child is restless or not a “napper”, they still lay down quietly with their nap buddy (a stuffed animal from home) or we may offer to guide them through relaxation breathing or, if they wish, cuddle them for awhile before laying them down again.
Relaxation is more than just stillness from activity; it can also be influenced from the environment and people around us. We teach the children, by observing their interactions and intervening when appropriate, how to socialize with each other and adults during academic periods and free play in a way that is peaceful and considerate. We have an outside and inside area for resolving conflict or to process strong emotions through talking it out with another person or taking space and time to process the emotion by one’s self. Each child creates a “toolbox” of things and/or techniques to help manage and care for his/her emotions. These are kept in our quiet area near where they can sit with another to discuss their issues or in self-reflection by his/her self.
Toys! I remember telling my own children, in a conspiratorial voice, that the secret adults want to keep is that we are all just big kids who also love to play! I still chuckle at my children’s reaction of firm disbelief when I first told them, but just give an adult some magnetic tiles or Play-Doh and just just watch! During orientation, we invite the parents or guardians to come play with their child for the morning period before official start, but during this 8am-8:45am period, parents are always welcome to linger at drop off to play or create art for awhile with their children! Coffee or tea and a place to socialize for parents is offered every morning.
Our toys, often award winning and best-sellers, are kept in excellent condition and cleaned regularly. We have toys that promote social development and imagination such as Calico Critter figurines and toy vehicles, a play kitchen with lots of play food and cooking gadgets, wonderful costumes with accessories for role play, puppets and dolls, and many, many building toys: Legos, Play-Doh, Lincoln
Logs, MagnaTiles, building blocks, train tracks, and more. We also have Montessori materials that are enjoyable for free time selection! Creative expression is always encouraged and available with paint, crayons, and markers. Artist smocks are available, but please be aware that academics and play time can some times be messy affairs.