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Diverse Learning Environments
What are “Diverse Learning Environments” (center)?
Centers are small spaces that are separated by specific subjects, in different areas in our preschool. Each center has activities that encourage learning in a different way. “Center Time'' is what we like to call the time period in which our preschoolers are scheduled for designated activities in each one of our learning centers. We have eight centers in our preschool, which are: Math center, Sensory/Science Center, Writing center, Art center, Block center, Dramatic Play, Manipulative center, and Puzzles center. During center time children may have the option to work in small groups, work independently or participate in teacher led activities.
Why is it important?
When children are in centers they are able to navigate interactions with other children, this enables them to grow in their social skills. When doing so, children are learning many different things such as:
Different ways to join in on play with other children
Taking turns and sharing toys or objects
Helping one another with their tasks
Supporting each other and encouraging one another to finish their tasks
Cleaning up as a group
Playing in centers is also important for children because it enables them to explore in a safe environment. Here are some more examples of what's happening during center time:
Children learn about their interests and some of their favorite activities
They are learning new developmental skills through age appropriate activities
Children are learning time management (if “Susie” wants to play with the sensory bin and in dramatic play she has to make time for both)
Children are learning how to take turns (if “Susie” wants to play in the block center but there are four friends there already, she will have to patiently wait for someone to leave the center before she can join in).
They are learning how to make mistakes and how to practice (Children get to practice concepts they’ve been taught as many times as they'd like)
Preschool centers allow children to interact with their peers while engaging in language development by speaking, listening, learning new vocabulary, hearing the flow of language, learning how to take turns during a conversation.
"Circle Time" The most important component of our program and the basis for learning to read and write. Children at Sue's Prep are exposed to a wide range of exciting language activities. With fun and co-operative activities such as singing and storytelling in both Spanish and English, we are able to engage our children's cognitive development in a positive way. Additionally, we encourage them to take turns at the center stage which helps them to exercise their communication skills!
Children begin to explore written communication by scribbling and drawing at an early age. Our writing center allows children to practice the various stages of writing, learning how letters look, how they compare to each other and how they combine to form words. Sometimes this center is “free writing” where the kiddos decide what to do and what they'd like to use to engage in fine motor skills and writing practices. Other times, the activity is teacher-directed where we introduce and teach letter recognition, letter sounds and writing of their names. We like to use tools such as letter tiles, writing journals, dry erase boards, markers and pencils, magnetic letters, tracing tools like sand trays and their individual name logs for practice.
Our math center is designed to encourage learning and play when working with manipulatives that build mathematical thinking skills. We find that hands-on experiences with numbers, counting, sequencing, matching, sorting, and classifying enhances literacy development and sharpens early interests in mathematics. Kiddos use this center in our preschool to learn more about shapes, colors, numbers, and quantities. Some of the different items this center may include are counting games, sorting bears, matching numeral cards to quantities of items, sorting items, shapes, number lines, colorful objects and counting cards.
Young children are naturally full of questions about the world around them and the drive to investigate how things work. By encouraging and directing their natural curiosity, young children can make sense of the world around them, and gain some understanding of how things work. In our Science center we encourage children to experiment using their five senses. Most young children love physical exploration – the messier the better – for that reason we introduce sensory bins into our preschool program, where children can channel their curiosity. This center might hold water, rice, shaving cream, beads, straws, dyed corn in a rainbow of colors, and so much more.
Art is a safe way for children to experience and reflect on the world around them. It allows them to express their thoughts and feelings in a creative way. This is of one our more favored activities amongst our children.
Our Dramatic play center allows children to act out scenarios they've seen or heard in real life, giving them an important emotional outlet. While playing and acting out scenarios, children are also exploring their very own thoughts and feelings. This is the best way for children to understand the world around them and participate in social interactions with other children. We love to get creative with our dramatic play center by incorporating themes where children can take on different roles, such as flower shops, camping, construction site, post office, pumpkin patch and so many more.