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3-4 Year Olds

Many families look to preschools as a meaningful time in their children’s lives, providing opportunities where their children can learn and experience joy in a safe and nurturing environment. You already know how important it is to choose the right preschool so that’s a good fit for your family and your child. In this article we’ll show you the things your three or four year old should be learning in an ideal preschool environment, like the one we planning for the new Phase Family Learning Center.

Physically & Health

We know children are still learning coordination at this age, so we encourage the development of children’s basic gross motor skills like running, throwing and balancing in the Gym and outside with the materials provided. In addition, we plan daily activities that continue to improve fine motor skills and needed hand-eye coordination through Motor Lab, Learning centers and small group activities with teachers in the classrooms and Enrichment rooms.

We introduce healthy living habits with this age group as well, like eating good food, drinking water, trying new foods, washing our hands, coughing into our elbow, appropriate touching and personal space, in addition to fire drills and other types of safety practices which are great skills to take with them into kindergarten and beyond.

Relationally & Emotionally

Preschoolers are often still developing self-confidence, and want reassurance from the caregivers in their lives to answer their important question: “Am I okay?” They are learning to calm themselves, but they still need help regulating strong emotions. The dedicated team of adults we provide lovingly embrace their needs and respond consistently, like with infants and toddlers, while also as their abilities and confidence show they are ready.

At this age, our teachers support children moving through the different stages of play. In addition to the necessary lifelong skill of being able to entertain him or herself (solitary play), we want to encourage kids that are watching others play (onlooker) and playing side by side with similar toys but not interacting (parallel) to eventually feel confident in joining what others are doing (associative).

Mentally

Preschoolers think like both a scientist and an artist. They still need us to engage all their senses. We set up and support a learning cycle that starts with exposure to ideas and materials, moves to exploration and then progresses as children ask questions and add to their understanding of how the world around them works. A built in feedback loop and conversation between teachers and children helps them reach new levels of discovery and making connections between their learning.

For STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities there are learning centers in the classroom, as well as enrichment rooms and outdoor learning areas. Preschoolers will be actively experimenting, problem solving, constructing, designing, building, finding and re-creating patterns, comparing, identifying, analyzing, categorizing, noticing details and using technology in authentic ways.

When it comes to MATH, we go beyond rote counting. Teachers help children represent and see math in multiple ways including concrete experiences, symbols, manipulatives, pictures and language. We get math into children’s eyes, ears, hands and feet by engaging several of the sensory and action systems of each learner.

For Creative Expression (Music, Movement, Dramatic Play and Art) activities there are Learning Centers in the classroom as well as enrichment rooms and outdoor learning areas. Preschoolers will use their imagination, storytelling, constructing their own meanings and moving their bodies, as they develop self-discipline and self-esteem. These are often social activities because children work together and share materials. Language and Pre-literacy skills are embedded in the Creative Arts, in addition to the Fine-Motor skills and Hand-Eye coordination needed for Kindergarten readiness.

Language & Literacy

We know skills such as speaking, listening, reading and writing develop concurrently (together) rather than sequentially (one after the other). So we weave all these skills into meaningful language and literacy experiences during almost every part of our daily routine.
The acquisition of language and literacy skills is social. It happens because young children are intrinsically motivated to interact and communicate with others. Some language and literacy learning happens naturally during play, everyday experiences and meaningful activities, but our teachers realize that some skills need explicit instruction and children learn at different rates. We encourage children to use known letters and approximate others. We reread favorite stories with predictable texts and ask children to retell it and predict what happens next.

From basic gross motor skills, to knowing they are okay so they can grow more independent, to reaching new levels of discovery and making connections between their learning, and even the social learning of language and literacy skills, you can see how their are there are many complex aspects to an optimal preschool environment for three and four year olds. Make sure the school you send your three or four year old child to provides this type of optimal preschool environment, and if not, don’t be afraid to ask why not.

Update

Have you driven by and wondered “What is that?” on the corner of Webb Bridge Road and Morris Road? After months of work, it is finally starting to take shape. That, my friends, is the beginning of the Phase Family Learning Center.

Now your next question might be “What on earth is The Phase Family Center?” Good! I was hoping to catch your attention. Phase is a unique concept based on the needs of early learning child care, and the desire of families to be connected with others in our community. As working parents, the need for quality, cutting-edge academics, and character development is just as important as finding a safe, loving place to care for your children. After all, they are your “heart with legs”. But what if I told you, there is so much more? What if I shared with you the secret that we at Phase have known all along? Parents need a safe and loving place to connect with other families in the community.

As the progress on our building continues, you will soon be able to see what our 65,000 sq foot facility is all about. A family center where families have an opportunity to have fun, and connect with other families in Alpharetta. A cutting edge, high-quality child care center that offers specialized curriculum for Infants through Pre-K. An After School Program that services many of the local elementary schools in Alpharetta. Are you getting excited yet?

Wait. I told you that the building is 65,000 sq feet, right? That can’t all be a school….. Well, you’re right! Not only do we offer preschool, we will be opening the Legacy Theater. The Legacy Theater is a destination for all kinds of community event. From trainings, weddings, recitals, to an evening of fun comedy events. The possibilities are endless.

The City of Alpharetta employs over 120,000 people, making it a very enticing city to be a part of! We are excited to be able to contribute a state of the art, co-working space for you that offers you the opportunity to have child care.

Within the last few months we have seen the land cleared, steel beginning to take shape, and concrete poured. We are proud to be a part of the Alpharetta and Avalon landscape, and even more excited to a part of the community!

All Ages

We’ve shared how important the teachers are in your child’s life, but did you know that their learning environment is just as important? The environment is the foundation for learning. It’s no secret that at Phase Family Center we believe that every parent is a child’s first and best teacher, and that every teacher is a champion for children and families. We have a secret tool in our teaching tool kit: Our Space! Our space will be the third teacher, providing a place that inspires learning.

Young children learn best through hands-on participation and experience. Where they do that needs to be open for them to be creative, and curious. Sometimes this occurs independently, but often it’s in small groups, and other times it happens in our large group activities. Our classrooms will be designed to allow relationships to be flourish with other children, a place for engagement with their teacher, or interacting with materials and the environment around them. The possibilities are endless at Phase Family Center. We’ll have specific classrooms to explore science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.

In our science classroom, our students will have the opportunity to experiment, learn about the life cycle, explore the solar system, and so much more. Our classrooms will be designed in a way to inspire curiosity. Blocks, Legos, plastic tiles, even sticks are favorite materials for building, imagining, and creating.

In the Phase Family Center Construction room, your kiddos will get to build, and engineer to their heart’s content! What’s better than creating a rocket ship out of a box? Or building a train track with bridges around the room?

Just like you, I love to have something colorful and fun made by my child to stick on the fridge…who doesn’t? There is so much more to art! Art provides a way for self-expression! Yes, there are the usual crayons, markers, and paint… but there is also clay, and paper mache’! Learning about art history, and the process and different styles of art really helps young minds develop a true appreciation for art. Teachers will set up a variety of concrete materials for children to explore the world around them and strategically plan for creative repetition of key concepts over time.

We are so excited to share the upcoming Phase Family Learning Center with Alpharetta parents. Keep in touch with us through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to hear more about this amazing new resource for our community’s children.

All Ages

Have you ever overheard your little in their room by themselves chatting away? Take a peek next time and you will see their imagination at work. Better yet, go join them! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.”

In the preschool world, we know that having the opportunity for unstructured play in the classroom promotes:

  • Imagination: A stick becomes a wand, a box can be a toaster. When a child plays their mind flourishes with imagination. This kind of outside-of-the-box thinking plays a huge role in developing creative thinking.
  • Socialization: As children play together they learn about their friends. They watch, imitate, model, and interact with peers as they develop their understanding of social dynamics.
  • Self-regulation: Play provides important opportunities for children to practice self-regulation. They develop the part of their brain that gives them the ability to control their behaviors and emotions in response to a particular situation.
  • Problem solving: Play is a fantastic way to explore problem solving. From social problem solving to analytical problem solving; play offers endless possibilities for children to encounter organic situations and develop an intuitive sense for finding solutions.
  • And so much more!

When our kiddos have the chance to create their own stories, make up their own characters, and take chances in their imaginary world it promotes freedom of expression, and really helps develop social skills on their own terms.

Play isn’t just play, its learning on your preschooler’s level. They get to pretend, role-play, explore, make new friends, and try new things! By providing our preschoolers unstructured play time, we are letting them learn based on their needs.