An important feature of Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool (OCP)’s classroom environment is that it feels safe, secure, and welcoming to our children. Because children thrive in a rhythmical atmosphere, our teacher maintains the rhythm of the day so the children know what to expect. Routines – a familiar greeting song during circle time, for example – are an important part of our curriculum, as they help to foster these feelings of safety and security for the children. We keep these routines flexible, however, in order to meet the ever-changing needs of the child. Over time, the familiar faces of the parent-teachers also offer a unique continuity to the classroom environment.
OCP’s curriculum is grounded in the knowledge that young children learn best through direct interaction with their environment and that learning comes primarily through play. The play-based approach calls for us to provide an environment in which there are opportunities for exploration and experimentation that are essential in the development of independent and inquisitive learners. Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool strives to nurture this curiosity and sense of wonder by offering an environment where children can freely and actively explore their surroundings. One of the key factors in our curriculum is the creation of an experiential learning environment which, divided into “interest areas,” allows for active exploration and investigation either alone or in small groups. It is in such small group settings that young children can best engage in play that is more complex and elaborate. Each “interest area” affords the children specifically designed opportunities for learning.
Some of the interest areas in the Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool classrooms are:
- Dramatic play
- Toys and games
- Nature and discovery
- Music and movement
- Outdoor play including sand and water exploration.