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  • Ettie Zaklos

Our Curriculum, Community, & Gratitude!

The Preschool of the Arts parents had the opportunity to explore our educational philosophy through hands-on activities at our well-attended Parent Curriculum Night this year. The wonderful evening of community and learning gave parents new strategies and perspectives on early childhood education, as we took a deep dive into our award-winning school’s educational philosophy and how it impacts children every day both in and out of the classroom. It was exciting to see the high level of participation at this important school event, as parental involvement is essential to promoting the home-school connection that is a pillar of our educational philosophy. Even more importantly, parent participation throughout the evening helped foster the exchange of ideas between parents and teachers, promoting community-wide learning.

This year, the evening focused on a unique aspect of the Reggio theory, the concept of learning through play with the help of “Loose Parts”. “Loose parts” is a term coined by the architect Simon Nicholson as a way to refer to random bits and pieces of materials in our everyday life. In traditional classroom environments, children are often presented with “finished” materials and environments that leave nothing to the imagination. Think of any toy store lined with bright, noisy and overwhelming plastic toys with every tiny detail already thought out and presented to the children. From an educational standpoint, this robs children of all the fun and the crucial learning experiences that come from being involved in the creative process. At Preschool of the Arts this year, we are actively increasing loose parts into our curriculum.

Our main goal with incorporating this concept into our curriculum is to nurture and empower children to unlock their cognitive and creative mindsets.

During this evening of learning, POTA staff replicated this unique learning experience for parents by giving them the opportunity to create fun, artistic “faces” using provided loose parts. Many of the final “faces” really blew us away with their originality, humor and beauty and are now on display at the school. Parents also collaborated with local artist Matt Mulhern to create loose parts inspired art installation for our school. There was such a warm energy and great camaraderie throughout the evening. The icing on the cake was having the children at school throughout the event, participating in their own concurrent “Pajama Movie Night”. The children had so much fun that they did not want to go home at the end of the evening, and many asked if they could sleepover in school! We are so grateful that this event helped foster an even stronger home-school partnership, as we are committed to enriching the lives of not only our children, but our families as well.

These feelings of community continued throughout the month of November, and were underscored by the theme of the month: gratitude. While we teach gratitude every day at our preschool, the Thanksgiving holiday really brings the message to the fore. It is the perfect mid-year opportunity to stop and remind ourselves of how blessed we are and express our heartfelt gratitude to our community – our dedicated and loving staff, our caring and involved parents, and of course, the children who bring us such joy, teaching us more about love and thankfulness than we can ever teach them. We culminated our learning with a grand Thanksgiving children’s performance, reminding us all that when we stop and count our blessings, there is always reason to celebrate.

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