Preschool has many different approaches and schools of thought. Generally when we think of preschool we think of bright primary colors, lots of different spaces for pretend play and learning the ABCs and sharing. I discovered a whole new approach to two year old preschool when I visited Cassaundra’s classroom at Rivermont Collegiate.
Cassaundra, a chipper and enthusiastic redhead, was seated on the floor in front of a huge screen, on which the entire universe was gently glowing. Soothing music was playing in the back ground as she worked with a small group of two year old preschool children.
It didn’t look like work though, because even though the two year olds were wriggly and some weren’t entirely interested in the activity, Cassaundra and her assistant just leaned into the students’ inquisitiveness about the other items in the room.
The voices and actions they used were always respectful of the young humans. I’ve seen many teachers talk to many children and not all of them are able to address their young charges with the incredible patience I heard that day at Rivermont. While respect to children in their charge isn’t exactly a new approach to two year old preschool it is certainly revolutionary.
Cassaundra embraces the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education and two year old preschool whole heartedly. She views young children as individuals who are curious about their world and have the powerful potential to learn from all that surrounds them.
At Rivermont Collegiate, Cassaundra derives her curriculum from the children’s particular interests. She acts as an adviser as the children adventure into more in depth studies about the moon and the universe. The craft projects the children do are in depth despite the well known short attention span of two year olds.
Cassaundra partners with them, helping them to decide in which direction they would like to take their research and how they can represent what they learn. Evidence of this learning milieu is all over the classroom. You can see visual representation of their study of outer space, the moon, and the stars displayed prominently.
Reggio Emilia calls for many presentations of the concepts they’re working on. At Rivermont’s two year old preschool, you can see that in the ways they practice their letter recognition, potty training, moon sand play, free play, small and large motor movement.
The children were encouraged to work together and their voices recognized beautifully. Cassaundra collaborates with and continually demonstrates for the children how to work together and problem solve. At Rivermont, teachers like Cassaundra are supported in their work to learn along side the children, as a guide and a resource.
One of the most beautiful examples of the partnership Cassaundra and her students shared was the pictorial updates the parents received all day. Photos of the children at work and play, along with descriptions in both the children’s as well as the teacher voices are sent regularly to the parents. They must feel like they are a part of their children’s education as they go about their own work days.
I was so thankful for the opportunity to chat at length with someone who shares my passion for children and education. Cassaundra, and Rivermont Collegiate create such a beautiful environment for two year old preschool, that I’m a little jealous of the families who get to see them in action every day.
You can check out Rivermont preschools and all of their class options by calling and scheduling a visit. It will be a delightful time to learn more and just observe with no obligation. You’ll fall in love with Rivermont Collegiate.