Early Childhood Program (Ages 2-5)

During the earliest years of education, children learn to develop outside their family setting, building confidence and independence through creative play. Our Early Childhood Programs ensure that students learn more than just the basics: they learn a lifetime love for exploration through hands-on activities that build appreciation for the environment, healthy eating, community outreach, and more. Our Early Childhood Programs foster our students’ emotional, social, and cognitive development.

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  • Overview & Philosophy

    Our Early Childhood Program supports the whole child and stresses social and emotional learning in an environment that values diversity, intelligence and school success. Play is a key factor in creating strong language and communication ability, critical thinking, problem solving and executive functioning.
     
    When children start their Early Childhood journey, a partnership begins between the family and the School. Children learn to function outside their family setting, often for the first time. As your child grows, we place an emphasis on the learning process with a balance of opportunities for small group, large group and individual learning experiences. Through PLAY children integrate all types of learning - physical, social, language development, emotional, and intellectual.
     
    The environment is constructed to balance child-initiated curriculum along with teacher-directed instruction. The classroom allows for the freedom of expression and communication with young peers and adults in an individual and group learning structure. With teacher assistance, children are encouraged to take appropriate risks and discover the world around them in a classroom that supports self-help skills, problem-solving, independence and resilience.
     
    Instructional materials and discussions prompt spontaneous and instructive play in the classroom and draw a developmental progression in the content of reading, math, writing, art, science and social studies. Children travel to other classrooms on campus for instruction in physical education, music, Spanish, makerspace and library time. The campus is a natural learning territory outside their classroom.
     
    Research has shown that students will have a love of learning if parents and teachers work together to understand the unique qualities of each child. Together we will discuss your child's strengths and learning styles. Our Early Childhood Program creates a home-school relationship that supports a learning environment for children to develop to their fullest potential.

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  • Early Childhood 2 Day Program & Toddler-Adult Program

    During the earliest years of education children learn to develop outside their family setting. Our toddler-centered classes focus on the whole child and stress social and emotional learning. We offer two different options for parents that allow you to choose whilch program best fits your child's needs. 

    Early Childhood 2 Day Program 
    Designed for age-eligible children who are ready to experience school for the first time without an accompanying parent or caregiver. Our ECP 2 Day Program provides a nurturing setting where children engage in meaningful play activities that support developmental learning and exploration. 

    • Children develop life skills and confidence in their own abilities while learning to navigate transitions in a social environment.
    • Program activities include constructive play, creative play, make believe, gross motor activities, group games and music.
    • Classes meet two mornings each week for two-and-a-half hours. Two sessions are available: Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday/Friday, 8:30-11 a.m.
    • To apply for the ECP 2 Day Program, complete an online Admission Application, and we will contact you to schedule an observtional playdate. 
    • A child should turn age 2 by April 30 and does not need to be potty trained to be eligible for this program. 
    • Chldren who are age-eligible may also enroll concurrently in Toddler-Adult. 

    Toddler-Adult
    Intended for a young child and a parent (or caregiver) to share together in the child’s first classroom experience, along with a teacher expert in early childhood development.

    • Classes meet one morning each week for an hour and a half. Two sessions are offered: Monday, 8:30 - 10 a.m. or Monday, 10:30 a.m. - Noon.
    • An admission application is not required for this program. To register for Toddler-Adult, click here to complete an online registration and permission form.
    • A child must turn age 2 by August 30 and does not need to be potty trained to be eligible for this program. 
    • Children who are age-eligible may also apply for the two-day Toddler Program. 
  • Explore ECP - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Students start each day with a morning meeting to discuss the date, weather, and their daily schedule.
    • Express, elaborate and comment on various topics, ideas and experiences by participating in child-directed committee work and daily classroom conversations. 
    • Devise and direct a collaborative Beautiful Stuff project that includes contributions from each child.  Students organize, discover, collect, sort, arrange, and experiment with personal items ultimately sharing their project with the community.
    • Observe, predict and analyze scientific results by conducting many interesting hands-on science experiments.
    • Utilize the latest technology to communicate ideas and information through photo and video presentations.
    • Pursue outside-the-classroom learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, science, music, library and media, community service, physical education and swim. 
     
    Language Arts
    Students are able to clearly and audibly express ideas through daily conversations and reflections while practicing the rules of conversation. They learn how to stay on topic and answer, clarify, elaborate and comment on various ideas and experiences. Through exposure to literacy, students identify character, settings and plot as well as gain comprehension skills. Inside our classroom message center, students draw and write messages to classmates and adults, selecting a personalized stamp to sign all of their work. Students also write and create plays and puppet shows to share with a live audience and make into movies.

    Math
    Students practice color and shape identification, counting, sorting and classifying, pattern exploration, measurement and data analysis to build their knowledge of mathematical concepts.  Through hands-on lessons and experimentation, students organize, compare, analyze, draw conclusions and make predictions. They learn to ask good questions and clarify information. With each mathematical lesson, students develop problem solving strategies and verbally communicate their findings.  

    Performing Arts
    Students have the opportunity to participate in many music and performing arts activities. They learn to use their voices expressively to speak, chant and sing. They investigate volume, rhythm, duration, pitch, and texture. They use hand movements and instruments to help them create, understand and respond to music in a variety of forms. Students also gain understanding of spatial awareness through movement and dance.
     
    Gross Motor Skills & Swimming
    During daily gross motor time students may experience outdoor play, indoor movement education or deliberate skills and games. They gain experience in following directions, learning rules and boundaries, and expanding their physical, mental and social capabilities. With group games, movement and individual skill-building activities, students are given repeated opportunities to be successful and develop gross motor skills. Students in the ECP 5-day program also participate in small group swim education for one trimester.
    Science
    Students discover new and exciting aspects of their world with interesting hands-on science activities and experiments. From simple observations—such as fish in an aquarium, or flashlight shadows—to analyzing which objects sink or float, students are able to hypothesize, observe, predict and problem-solve. Students experience a variety of scientific concepts such as weather, animals, plants and the physical world. They are able to explore planting and farming on our school campus. They learn the importance of taking care of the earth by recycling, composting and reducing waste, and talk about the impact these efforts have on their environment. Many lessons center on the National Park and the learning that takes place in our park. 

    Social Studies
    Beginning with the unique characteristics of their classroom community, students discuss the similarities and differences between people starting with the unique characteristics of their own classroom community. Students become familiar with the events and holidays their classmates celebrate. Students practice social skills, gaining an understanding of both personal responsibility and community pride. They also discuss safety skills regarding water, fire, strangers and other dangers. Many discussions at school center around our Core Values of respect, responsibility, goodness and service. 

    Spanish
    In our introductory Spanish courses, students learn basic vocabulary, begin to converse simply and politely, and explore Spanish culture. They learn words to communicate family members, animals, body, food, color, seasons and celebrations. Students play games, dramatize stories, sing songs, dance and use instruments in a variety of interactive vocabulary-building activities.

    Technology
    Technology is woven into the daily experience of all ECP students through the use of many devices such as iPads and iPods, digital cameras, computers, and SMARTBoards. Students are able to use SMARTBoard technology to interact with applications, play educational games and participate in classroom activities (i.e. morning meeting routines, classroom voting, selecting Worktime), gaining presentation skills while learning to take turns. They learn to communicate ideas through photos and videos that they frame and film themselves. The SeeSaw app is used independently by students to demonstrate learning as a dynamic ePortfolio for parents.  Children also practice basic skills such as logging in and out, mouse skills, keyboarding skills, software applications, web browsing, independent exploration of apps, framing a subject in a picture or video, and communicating via pictures or video.  Using these tools enhances the children’s experiences in literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, research, music, creative and critical thinking. 

    Visual Arts
    Students learn about and express lines, forms, colors, shapes and textures in two- and three-dimensional projects. They experiment with clay and dough, creating sculptures from these and other mediums. They use paint, chalk, pen, marker, colored pencils and nature materials on various surfaces. They cut with scissors and draw, learning and using new vocabulary and concepts as they progress. With frequent opportunity to explore, sketch, build, cut, glue and create, students enhance their imaginations as well as critical thinking skills. Children are provided with daily opportunities to work in the classroom art studio where they are inspired by a variety of materials. 
  • Explore Young 5s - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Investigate, collaborate and present student-generated committee projects featuring the harvest, communities, ponds, dinosaurs and careers.
    • Discover, share and connect favorite authors with classmates, family and friends during in-depth author studies and celebrations.
    • Analyze, demonstrate and discuss mathematical concepts to enhance understanding and problem-solving skills.
    • Paint, draw, collage, sculpt and sew imaginative works of art in the classroom as well as our unique studio environment to enhance fine motor skills.
    • Pursue outside-the-classroom learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, science, technology, music, library and media, community service, physical education and swim.  

    Language Arts

    Students strengthen their interest in reading and writing in a nurturing and creative environment. With a classroom library, story time, class discussions and the creation of writing journals, students listen to, learn, evaluate and discuss story components. Students convey thoughts, feelings and experiences through their writing and illustration. Through exposure to poetry, children learn to identify rhythm and rhyme and recite poems in front of the class.    

    Math
    Students explore mathematical concepts by creating patterns, sorting, classifying and comparing. They count forward and backward. By drawing, and through interactive lessons, students are introduced to place value, addition and subtraction. They measure and understand length, volume, weight, duration, quantity and mass. Students utilize their recorded data to graph and analyze their results.

    Performing Arts
    Students have the opportunity to participate in many music and performing arts activities. They learn to use their voices expressively to speak, chant and sing. They experiment with sounds and investigate genres, styles, and periods of music across many cultures. Using their voices and bodies, students learn, apply, and enjoy basic musical concepts.

    Physical Education & Swimming
    Students gain experience in following directions, learning rules and boundaries, and expanding their physical, mental and social capabilities. With group games, sports and individual skill-building activities, students are given repeated opportunities to be successful and develop gross motor skills.

    Science
    Students begin researching topics through observation, reading, asking experts and online search. They then share results in various creative and digital presentations. Topics of study are child-driven and may include Harvest, Winter, Pond, and Dinosaurs. Students generate their own questions within each topic, then collaborate, draw conclusions and synthesize information to make new connections. By committee, the students decide on projects to pursue. This teaches them to communicate, collaborate, encourage and support the ideas of others, and to fulfill responsibilities within a group. Students gain environmental awareness through recycling, composting and creating “Green Cleaner” that is used to clean surfaces throughout the School.  

    Social Studies
    With topics including Community, Careers, and Post Office, students will generate questions and research the various aspects that they would like to study and explore. They build social skills and awareness by learning the rules and regulations of the classroom and respecting classmates and materials. As part of a classroom community, students discuss the similarities, differences, and unique characteristics of each child and family. They also learn to say “hello” in multiple languages.  To document their understanding of these varied topics, students create memory books and videos.

    Spanish
    In our introductory Spanish Exposure course, students learn and use basic vocabulary and explore Spanish culture through familiar storybooks, songs and short educational videos. They ask and answer questions about family members, animals, body, food, colors and the seasons by sampling a variety of interactive vocabulary-building activities. Classes are designed in short fun segments to train their ear to the sounds and rythm of the Spanish language. 

    Technology
    Technology is woven into the daily experience of students through the hands on use of many devices such as iPads and iPods, digital cameras, computers and SMARTBoards. They learn to communicate ideas through photos and videos that they frame and film themselves. Students are able to use SMARTboard technology to project ideas and interact with applications, gaining presentation and leadership skills as they explain their ideas. The SeeSaw app is used independently by students to demonstrate learning as a dynamic ePortfolio for parents. Students in Young 5s have the benefit of one-to-one iPads in the classroom. 

    Visual Arts
    Students travel to the art studio to create and experiment with a wide range of artistic mediums such as paint, clay, colored pencil, chalk and oil pastel as well as unusual items they seek out and find in nature. Students create two- and three-dimensional art, dioramas, drawings and collages. They learn about concepts including lines, forms, color and texture, and explore proportion and space. Students also share, compare and evaluate their work. The class makes a trip to the Akron Art Museum each year. 

Discovery starts early at Old Trail School

Old Trail School is an independent day school (toddler through grade eight) located in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.