In Preschool, students start to emerge as confident learners who can partner with teachers as they build skills and track their personal progress. The tone is set early in the school year, students experiment with goal-setting, documenting what they'd like to learn that year. These aspirations hang on the classroom wall all year long.
In a play-based, student-driven classroom, lessons are shaped by the materials that teachers provide. The Preschool classroom is full of materials that connect with traditional academic disciplines. Baskets of colorful blocks and figures invite sorting and stacking that suggest basic math. Ramps, pulleys and balances lead to first physics and engineering projects. Magnifying glasses, measuring tapes and clipboards fuel scientific scavenger hunts.
In Preschool, written projects becomes more formal, with drawings captioned with the students' own first writing, or words dictated to the classroom teacher. This work is carefully dated and included in a folder where students can track their own passions and ideas—and writing skills—over the course of the year.
By the end of the year, the students' ability to sustain long-term projects has grown dramatically. Block area projects might extend over several days; written work might continue over multiple pages; science experiments might include sprouting and caring for seedlings over the course of two or three weeks, and transplanting them in the garden beds outside their classroom doors.
Preschool students form a close relationship with their two classroom teachers. They also have an opportunity to connect with other faculty members as part of their visual art, library and PE curriculum. Over the course of the day, Preschool students interact in a variety of groups: sitting as a class in morning circle, collaborating in pairs or working alone during choice time, venturing to music, art and PE as half a classroom group, or coming together with their peers from Nursery on the playground twice a day. Students are also paired with third grade students who serve as "buddies" during thoughtfully designed adventures over the course of the school year.