At STP, we will prepare your child for their next transition, Kindergarten. We will help each child develop readiness skills through directed play and playful learning. The Nature-Based STP Curriculum is Wonder-Based. See Below for the full Teaching Philosophy.
Saint Thomas’ Preschool
-The Wonder-Based Teaching Philosophy-
The word wonder, used as a noun, is described as: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. As a verb it means, to be curious to know something, to feel admiration, or to marvel.
There is no better way to describe our youngest learners; curious and wide-eyed preschool-aged children. At Saint Thomas’ Preschool, our teaching philosophy and the basis for our curricula is rooted in the fundamental truth that preschoolers are innately full of wonder and have a natural desire to explore the world around them.
Our approach to nurture the wonder in each of our students is multi-layered, yet straightforward, and is based on how preschoolers learn best: by feeling loved and supported, by becoming confident and being curious, by exploring and discovering, by asking questions and finding answers, by accepting challenges and taking risks, and by focused, uninterrupted indoor and outdoor play.
We call it our ‘Wonder-based Curriculum.’
The first and most important step of the Wonder-based Curriculum is to create spaces and interactions in which our children feel loved, supported and safe. Our staff commits itself to making our students, especially our youngest, comfortable and confident so that they can allow their curiosity to blossom and their questions to be formulated. Once they feel assured, our thoughtfully designed classrooms and outdoor spaces encourage children to play, explore, interact with peers, and learn from the many experiences they are offered.
Wonder is further nurtured through age-appropriate, open-ended, theme-based units of exploration. Our teachers dedicate themselves to creating and presenting interactive lessons that allow our children to explore and discover through books, making observations and predictions, STEAM-style activities and challenges, designing projects, and countless innovative, customized ways that stimulate our students’ ideas, questions, and discovery. We deliberately leave our units open-ended to allow for the children’s curiosity to enhance our exploration.
Inasmuch as we create curricula that is play-based and enhances their learning on a larger scale, we also believe in presenting our students with exciting and interest-sparking activities to enhance their finer skills. Fine motor, as well as number and alphabet foundations are taught at individual interest levels, and at moments that occur naturally in our daily interactions and explorations. At this age, we recognize that a child must show a curiosity for learning fundamentals, and more importantly, to feel success; we encourage every attempt and celebrate every achievement, forming a positive connection to learning.
Although our primary goal is to spark our students’ wonder, meet their needs at individual levels, encourage their interests, and celebrate every attempt, at the Pre-K level we become increasingly focused on Kindergarten preparedness. It is important that we encourage our oldest students to learn the building blocks that will allow them to conquer the skills they need once they leave STP. In light of this, we design our Pre-K curricula with specific Kindergarten fundamentals in mind such as: writing and identifying the letters of the alphabet and their name, preparing for reading by detecting beginning sounds of simple words, recognizing numbers, shapes, colors and patterns, and continued strengthening of fine and gross motor skills. Our teachers inspire the children to master these skills while staying true to our wonder-based teaching philosophy by designing age-appropriate lessons using manipulatives and custom-designed visuals, games, songs, play-acting, and through individualized instruction as well as group activities.
Our lessons are not confined to the classroom at STP; we take our wonder with us as we explore and play throughout our 40-acre campus, shared with historic St. Thomas’ Church, its many outbuildings, open fields, walking trails, climbing trees, gazebo, and nature playscape. We spend countless hours in the fresh air in order to enhance our learning even more. We believe that children thrive on being outdoors, challenging their bodies, digging in dirt, climbing, rolling, and generally appreciating all nature has to offer.
In summary, our Wonder-based Curriculum is an intuitive and child-centered approach to teaching and learning at the preschool level. Every day is filled with exploration and discovery on an individual and group level. Though each set of classroom teachers focus on different skills and have varied approaches based on their own interests and strengths, as a whole, our staff is committed to nurturing our students’ sense of wonder, creating lifelong learners.
LOVE + NURTURING = CONFIDENCE
CONFIDENCE + WONDER = QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS + ENCOURAGEMENT = EXPLORATION
EXPLORATION + DISCOVERY = LEARNING
LEARNING +CELEBRATION = MORE LEARNING
Did you know that there are Solar Panels at St. Thomas’? Let’s wonder what we can learn from the sun…