Hopkins Preschools–Take A Look!

Many parents are now focusing on finding the preschool that fits best for their child and meeting the deadline of registering for next year.  It can be difficult to look so far into the future (past the winter, spring and summer) and see your child proudly walking into her classroom. However, the practicalities of preparing for the next great year involve finding, assessing and holding a spot in the school of your choice over the next few months. Luckily, the Hopkins School District helps to make your search less complicated, because of the high quality preschool experiences provided by the Kaleidoscope staff throughout our district.  The classrooms provide a developmentally appropriate approach to education. The environment in which the children learn inspires creative thinking, problem-solving, exploration and an appreciation for the energy of the young child. The staff are proud of the work they do with the children in their care.  We took some time to talk to the teachers about the unique aspects of the program.

The Kaleidoscope program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.  This educational philosophy holds most dear the children’s active role in their own learning. The teachers see every student in the classroom as capable and able to be an active participant in their own education. To different extents in each classroom, the curriculum unfolds as the teacher learns of the questions and interests of the students. The projects that the children are engaged in, though they don’t come from a “packaged curriculum”, teach the important social and academic skills which provide the foundation for learning. However, the lessons being learned are approached through a subject of intense interest to the children.

The use of simple materials throughout the classroom encourage an active role from the students. With classroom materials that can be worked with in many ways, the child is encouraged to bring her own ideas into her play and into her learning. The basic principle is to encourage the children to build an idea around a material, not have the device dictate a certain game or method of play. This allows the child to capitalize on her own imagination–which in turn builds critical thinking skills and problem solving skills.  If the item isn’t telling the child what to do–then the child gets to think for herself! The use of computers and technology play the important role in the classroom of providing information. For instance, if the students have shown an interest in birds, the teacher works with the students to find bird calls and pictures of nests through the internet.  Technology is used as a method of gaining knowledge; technology is never used as entertainment.

The teachers in the Hopkins preschool program play an integral part in the student’s learning.  They purposefully create a space where wondering and questioning are the centerpiece of the learning experience. The teachers take the time to watch the children and understand the interests they are showing in different topics or subjects.  Using this information, they build a project around that interest and invite the children to follow their curiosity into the details of this project.  Through this work the children are building the school skills that are so necessary for success in later grades: developing a longer attention span, being part of a group and working together effectively, the ability to plan an action and follow through on that plan–controlling their own behavior.  All of this happens because the students are so engaged in their topic of interest, they want to continue to learn.

Interested in learning more about the Hopkins Kaleidoscope programs? Take part in the visiting days in February:
Meadowbrook: February 25, 12:00-1:00pm
Harley Hopkins: February 26, 12:00-1:00pm
Glen Lake: February 27, 12:00-1:00pm

When taking a peek at possible preschools, consider the advice provided earlier by our preschool staff about how to best assess the fit between the program and your child in our previous blog post: Welcome to Another year of Preschool

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