Daily Rhythms: How our cooperative preschool program is structured.
Preschool children learn primarily through play. At OCP, we nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity so that children can freely and actively explore their surroundings. We emphasize the development of a child’s imagination rather than rote learning. Nature, sensory exploration, music, and movement are integrated into our daily rhythms.
- Upon arriving at school, each child is greeted by the teacher and invited into a welcoming environment that is engaging and safe for exploration.
- Circle time is a special part of the morning when the children gather to greet one another and welcome the day through a game, a seasonal song, a poem, or a story.
- The planned activity of the day may be rooting spider plants or painting a flowerpot for the plants to live in, baking biscuits in various shapes, making and playing with play dough or “goop,” doing yoga, or listening to a parent play guitar and sing.
- Snack time is a time of coming together. Children are invited to share in the preparation of the wholesome snack, spreading jam on biscuits they made together or coring apples to dip in yogurt. We talk about food and where it comes from, and everyone helps in cleaning up afterward.
- Outdoor play is a fundamental part of each day where children freely explore and interact with the environment. Play is generally unstructured, and the equipment and materials are open-ended. In the sand pit, children may “bake cakes,” build castles, or dig for fossils. In the playscape, they may overturn a tree stump to investigate the creatures living beneath it, or use the stump as a stepping-stone in an obstacle course. Children are encouraged to look for and collect natural objects such as leaves, rocks, and sticks, which may be displayed on their classroom’s seasonal nature table, examined more closely in the discovery area, and/or integrated into an art project.
- Free play allows children to develop their imagination and creativity while also learning about sharing, taking risks, role modeling, and resolving conflict. Classrooms are divided into interest areas (books, blocks/manipulative, music, dramatic play, and toys) that accommodate a few children at a time.
- At lunchtime, the children come together around the table to eat a lunch they bring from home. We talk about what we’ve each brought to eat and about the day’s experiences. This is a wonderful time for the children and teachers to interact and bond with one another as a group.
- The children come together again at the end of the day for the closing circle to say goodbye to one another and as a transition to welcoming parents as they arrive to take them home.