Early Childhood

Inspiring creativity, discovery, and wonder


Underlying our Early Childhood program for students in PreSchool and PreKindergarten is the philosophical belief that each child has unique gifts, that all children can learn, and that learning should be a joyful process. This Early Childhood program in Madison, CT, offers students an academic program rich with experimentation, hands-on learning, and an array of co-curricular classes and experiences, including global language, leadership, and STEAM.

Our Early Childhood Program is housed in Clark House, a sunny, inviting building that inspires creativity and exploration with its wide, open spaces and myriad opportunities for discovery, reflection, activity, wonder, and quiet time. Large, low windows allow small children to look outside, and the outdoors becomes an extension of the classroom, where a focus on the natural sciences helps churn wonder and curiosity about the world. Clark House has its own room dedicated to STEAM, and students have regular opportunities to explore these areas while developing their own design thinking and critical thinking skills.

The Clark House is flanked by two playgrounds, one for our youngest students. At The Country School, we put much credence in the value of daily play as a rich and important vehicle for learning and development.

Co-curricular courses are taught by specialists, and our young learners experience multiple learning environments and teachers, with regular visits to the library, science lab, STEAM lab, gymnasium, Children's Garden, and campus trails.

Our admission process uses a developmental approach and most PreSchoolers are three years old by September 30. Most PreKindergarten students are four years old by September 30. All children are expected to be toilet trained.

Flexible scheduling options

  • Early Childhood Core Day (8:15 a.m. ­ 12:30 p.m.) Daily routines include circle time, singing, story, indoor and outdoor play, and lunch. Program offerings include physical education, library, Spanish, visual arts, and STEAM/science.
  • Full Day (8:15 a.m. ­ 3 p.m.) Children who stay after 12:30 p.m. remain with their teacher in their classroom and enjoy a rest period, story time, and imaginative indoor and outdoor play.

Curriculum Overviews

PreSchool

The PreSchool curriculum is designed to enhance the cognitive, physical, social and creative development of each child. As students explore thematic units, play and self-discovery are balanced with teacher guidance and instruction. We strive to generate independent, self-confident, curious learners who work well with others.

Key Resources:

  • Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards
  • Responsive Classroom
  • Choose Love
  • Yoga 4 Classroom

The PreSchool program emphasizes the need to create a warm and nurturing environment to support the development of trusting relationships between teachers, peers and the classroom. With these relationships as the framework, teachers guide children through important daily routines and provide them with a variety of activities that supports their individual growth. The curriculum allows children many opportunities to explore their own interests while providing explicit teacher-directed instruction. This positive and supportive climate encourages the development of engaged and motivated learners.

Routines
The PreSchool classroom will follow a consistent schedule which will provide the students with a predictable routine to ensure a sense of security that allows for the students to make choices, take risks and will open the door to exciting learning opportunities.

Language Arts
Children have daily experiences in the language arts through a combination of child-initiated learning and teacher guided instruction. Activities are designed to promote development of comprehension, vocabulary, the alphabetic principle, phonological awareness, and concepts about print. Nursery rhymes, sign language, literature, conversations, and discussions are part of our regular routines.

Writing is supported by providing ample opportunities for drawing, scribbling, and forming random strings of letters. Students will learn to be comfortable with a writing instrument, write from left to right, and that writing conveys a message. The work produced is not as important as the process followed to create it.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills
Activities are designed to develop children’s small muscle strength, control and coordination. Students freely explore and utilize manipulatives such as duplos, pegs, and small building blocks as well as art materials, puzzles and writing instruments. Daily outdoor play is part of our core program. Running freely and using playground equipment contributes to the development of gross motor skills, i.e coordination.

Math
The PreSchool math curriculum teaches children that math is a language that will help them better understand their world. Skills include: rote counting, one-to-one correspondence, number recognition, basic shapes, time/sequence of events, size, patterns, introduction to calendar concepts, money, measurement, spatial sense, estimation, statistics, problem solving, communicating.

Social Studies
Social studies is the study of how people relate to one another, their environment and to the world they live in. When a child enters their PreSchool classroom, it is generally the first time they are interacting inside a community that is outside their family unit. Children need to find connections to others and feel that they are members of a group. We encourage the children to respect and appreciate similarities and differences among us all.

Science
Science is integrated through the PreSchool day. Children are encouraged to make observations and comparisons, ask questions and begin to make important connections in the world around them. Some topics we explore are; the seasons, weather, colors, plantings, water, bubbles and animals.

Visual Arts
Children have daily exposure to a variety of art media. Children are encouraged to express and represent what they observe, think, and imagine.

Music
Music is woven into each day. Children are encouraged to sing and to create movement to express tempo and feelings. Children have access to a variety of instruments, and are encouraged to create their own beats and songs.

Spanish
Children will be introduced to the Spanish language. They will learn basic greetings, colors, numbers, animals, food, weather, clothing and directions. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. Particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

Affective Education
We emphasize social and emotional development to foster a safe and happy learning environment, as well as confident learners. Daily morning meetings, reading buddies, the Responsive Classroom components of positive talk, classroom rules, and logical consequences - all support social/emotional growth. The PreSchoolers will also be actively participating in this years school-wide theme, “Cooperation.”

Responsive Classroom
The Country School embraces the Responsive Classroom approach. This teaching philosophy helps foster respectful relationships and a positive, nurturing classroom environment. Associated research has shown that the greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction, and that by establishing these respectful relationships within the classroom, students work together more effectively and collaboratively. The principles supporting the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching suggest that in order to be successful academically and socially, children need a set of socials skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. (C A R E S). These skills are vital attributes necessary for social and academic growth and for the development of a positive learning community. All teachers at The Country School incorporate this educational philosophy.

Elmore Leadership
The Elmore Leadership Program at The Country School recognizes that at each grade level, students will develop leadership skills in different ways and at different times. In keeping with this 11 year continuum, the PreSchool through Eighth Grade Program strives to develop students into civic-minded citizens who will consistently practice our TCS core values of kindness, respect, and responsibility. Through carefully crafted activities programs, and experiences, our students learn the power of teamwork, collaboration, empathetic listening, and appreciative inquiry. They take turns leading and letting others lead.

PreKindergarten

Responsive Classroom
The Country School embraces the Responsive Classroom approach. This teaching philosophy helps foster respectful relationships and a positive, nurturing classroom environment. Associated research has shown that the greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction, and that by establishing these respectful relationships within the classroom, students work together more effectively and collaboratively. The principles supporting the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching suggest that in order to be successful academically and socially, children need a set of socials skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. (C A R E S). These skills are vital attributes necessary for social and academic growth and for the development of a positive learning community. All teachers at The Country School incorporate this educational philosophy.

Social Curriculum
The importance of helping young children learn how to navigate through their world in socially appropriate ways is our top priority in PreK. Character education and Responsive Classroom components are incorporated daily as together we work to establish class rules, share morning meetings, talk about and implement logical consequences, model positive teacher language, and introduce materials through guided discovery that encourages creativity and responsibility. Class discussions, individual conversations, role-playing, and literature also assist in helping further each child’s social development.

Language Arts
Language Arts is an essential part of PreK and is woven into all aspects of our program. We promote growth and development in all early literacy areas by introducing children to the exciting world of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We provide daily opportunities that help build a solid foundation of many different skills including (but not limited to) oral language, phonological awareness, concepts of prints, alphabet knowledge and writing, and comprehension.

  • Reading includes book awareness, alphabet concepts, phonological awareness, environmental print, left to right orientation.
  • Writing includes the development of fine motors skills and muscle memory along with components of the Handwriting Without Tears program.
  • Speaking includes interactions with peers and teachers, class discussions, and opportunities to speak in front of the class such as sharing, PreK talents, and our daily news reporter.
  • Listening includes All School Meeting, Lower School Radio Show, class meetings, books on tape and CD, music and movement, sharing stories, and talents with Reading Buddies.

Math
Young children are naturally curious, excited, and eager to understand beginning math concepts. We recognize the importance of nurturing their mathematical thinking skills while knowing that this is best done through hands-on experiences with concrete objects in a risk-free environment. Using introductory components of The Singapore Math Program and a variety of manipulatives including math-links cubes, Cuisenaire rods, count and sorts, blocks, glass blobs, and pattern blocks, PreKers actively participate in learning math as they explore materials. Concepts include the following:

  • Numbers and Operations - developing an understanding of whole numbers including concepts of correspondence, counting, cardinality and comparison
  • Geometry - identifying shapes and describing spatial relationships
  • Measurement - identifying measurable attributes and comparing objects by using these attributes

Social Studies
Social Studies is the work children do to help them understand their world. We guide them to see and make connections between self, family and the greater community. Children benefit from experiencing things firsthand. They gather meaning from these experiences by recreating it through discussion, drama, construction, and art.

Science
Daily opportunities that allow children to further explore the world of science incorporate several key goals. While some lessons are planned and some are spontaneous, all encourage children to become more thorough observers, provide opportunities for investigation and discovery, foster a love and appreciation of the natural environment, stimulate logical thinking, and build a better understanding of the scientific process.

STEAM
In the classroom, children extend their learning by utilizing the STEAM components (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) for more in-depth investigation, teacher/student collaboration, student-initiated learning, and additional sharing of ideas. Collaboration with co-curricular teachers further enhances the children’s learning experiences and opportunities.

Spanish
Children will be introduced to the Spanish language. They will learn basic greetings, colors, numbers, animals, food, weather, clothing and directions. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. Particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

Music
Providing exposure to, and opportunities for participation in a variety of musical activities is woven into our daily curriculum. Through participation in singing, movement, and dance children begin to understand basic musical concepts such as rhythm, tempo, beat, and pitch while singing songs, playing musical instruments, listening to CD’s, and sharing stories with song lyrics.

Art
PreKers enjoy daily opportunities to express themselves artistically using a variety of materials including (but not limited to): paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils, chalk, stampers, ink pads, scissors, collage materials, recycled materials, glue, Playdoh, and clay. In contrast to some teacher guided activities that focus on teaching specific skills, these art experiences encourage self-expression, experimentation, independent thinking, and stretching the imagination.

Affective Education
Through the Affective Education program, we introduce PreKers to decision making, teamwork, self-awareness, leadership, trust, conflict resolution, respect, stewardship, tolerance, and self-advocacy. Helping to lay the foundation for our students in these areas is a priority. This year we will be spending much of our time focusing on assertion.

Leadership
The Elmore Leadership Program at The Country School recognizes that at each grade level, students will develop leadership skills in different ways and at different times. In keeping with this 11 year continuum, the PreSchool through Third Grade Program strives to develop students into civic-minded citizens who will consistently practice our TCS core values of kindness, respect, and responsibility. Through carefully crafted activities, programs, and experiences, our students learn the power of teamwork, collaboration, empathetic listening, and appreciative inquiry. They take turns leading and letting others lead.

STEAM

PreSchool

STEAM through Fairy Tales:

The Three Little Pigs
Students build houses, retell and act out the story, and practice matching and counting.

The Gingerbread Man
Students measure, mix, and cook gingerbread men and they try to save the Gingerbread Man from being eaten.

Dr. Seuss
Students make OObleck, count, rhyme, build, and use different Dr. Seuss stories to incorporate aspects of STEAM.


PreKindergarten

All About Dinosaurs
This Pre-K exploration involves history, science, geography, geology, math, engineering, visual arts, music, literature, and technology.