Early Childhood Education at Charles Wright
by Francesca Gallozzi
Early on in the process of designing our new preschool program, we asked our Lower School teachers a simple question: “What are your best memories from childhood?”
Vivid recollections and lively conversation elicited a remarkable list of experiences: Building forts, towers, and sand castles. Singing songs. Reading stories with a loved adult. Jumping in puddles and climbing trees. Painting. Drawing. Building. Making fairy houses and animal homes. Running through the woods and playing with sticks. Sorting, categorizing, and collecting. Trying to understand the world and how things work.
As faculty members reflected on their discussion, several common characteristics emerged: autonomy, creativity, and constructing meaning. As they recounted their experiences of play, teachers talked about the freedom to take initiative and pursue ideas and questions that interested them – autonomy. They described opportunities to experiment with ideas and express themselves with materials – creativity. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they identified the ways in which they constructed knowledge and developed skills related to their exploration – meaning. These values provide the foundation of the early childhood program at CWA.
We recognize that children come to us full of wonder and curiosity, eager to learn about the world. They are active explorers who are willing to collaborate, share discoveries, and to learn how to care for others and the environment. The early childhood program at CWA provides experiences that build a strong foundation for lifetime learning in all domains: academic, physical, aesthetic, social, and emotional. Students benefit from time with our language, music, library, art, and science specialists. In addition, our 107 acres provide an active learning laboratory, where children and teachers spend intentional time exploring the creek, searching for amphibians, observing wildlife, and simply playing together.
When families and visitors see our preschool, junior kindergarten, and kindergarten classrooms, they can expect to find:
- Warm, reciprocal relationships between teachers and children which create a climate of trust where learning can flourish.
- Classrooms humming with purposeful, authentic activity
- Inviting spaces for active, group, and individual play.
- Varied and accessible art materials which invite children to tell their stories and reveal their learning in multiple ways.
- Walls showing children’s work and documentation of learning – photos and explanations of children’s ideas, experiences, and skills being learned
The year ahead is full of possibility! In this ever-changing world we can be certain of very little, but what we do know is that successful adults are curious, self-motivated, critical thinkers. Our early childhood program is designed to cultivate these dispositions in our youngest learners. These children — and their teachers — bring to life the values the faculty identified back in the initial planning meeting for our preschool: autonomy, creativity, and meaning. Come see our active, joyful classrooms!