Laying the Foundation
The preschool program comprises two grades:
PK3 - Three-year-olds (Must be 3 by September 1st)
PK4 - Four-year-olds (Must be 4 by September 1st)
Our preschool program builds a strong foundation for academic success in the elementary years and beyond. Preschool children can attend morning or full-day classes during the week. The interests, needs, strengths, and cultural background of each child are addressed in our fully accredited program.
In preschool, children’s experiences with numeracy and mathematical symbols provide the foundation for developing logical thinking and problem-solving. Through concrete learning activities and projects, children:
- Build on their curiosity and enthusiasm for math in their everyday lives.
- Acquire skills by using math tools and authentic manipulatives to connect and demonstrate their understanding.
- Explore number sense, measurement, geometry, graphing, probability and patterning.
In preschool, children’s experiences with communication and literacy form the foundation of life-long learning. Through cross-curricular activities children at The Branch School:
- Interact with peers, Reading Buddies, and nurturing adults to engage in a rich print and language environment.
- Appreciate the value of literacy as a means of communication and enjoyment through multi-sensory activities.
- Cultivate listening comprehension, vocabulary, print awareness and an inspiration to read.
- Extend language skills through the observation of the world around them.
- Invent ideas and learn how written language works through dictation of their ideas.
- Explore creative oral and written expression for themselves through music, dramatic play, art and outdoor recreation.
- Explore letter recognition and phonological awareness.
In preschool, children are natural scientists, observing and wondering about the world in which they live. In both the classroom and our state-recognized Texas Wildscape, children:
- Participate in simple investigations that develop the early skills of scientific inquiry through group and independent activities.
- Value, empathize with, care for and feel comfortable in their natural environment.
- Explore the simple processes of changes in matter, organisms and the environment.
- Plant and harvest vegetables and herbs.
Most classes have a long-term Outdoor Classroom activity. Our PK3 and PK4 students explore the Wildscape and learn names and basic facts about the plants and creatures we encounter.
In preschool, children are naturally interested in social interactions among individuals and groups. In experiencing the classroom as a new community, children…
- Develop greater self-help skills.
- Increase their opportunities for respectful and peaceful interactions with their peers and teachers.
- Explore the connection between themselves, their family and other local communities.
- Share their family’s cultural heritage and become familiar with other world cultures.
- Learn the process of problem-solving in everyday social interactions to foster individual character and peace.
- Show initiative in learning and begin to take greater responsibility for their behavior.
- Begin learning the Pledge of Allegiance.The goal for PK3 and K4 students is to understand that when we are saying the pledge, we are showing how happy we are to live in the United States.It helps us understand the importance of the concepts of fairness and unity.
The fine arts including visual arts, music, and dramatic play, serve as a vehicle through which children create early academic connections. The fine arts are a form of creative self-expression.
- In art, children explore a wide variety of media and make discoveries about color, shape, and texture. Developmentally, they begin to move from a scribble stage to a more representational form of art.
- In music, children express themselves through singing, movement, and playing simple instruments. Children learn to experiment with musical concepts, such as volume, tempo, rhythm, and begin to appreciate different types of music.
- In dramatic play, children demonstrate their unique interpretation of music, songs, stories, and real life.
Gross and Fine-Motor Development
Students in PK3 and PK4 participate in activities daily which develop their gross-motor and fine-motor skills. Gross-motor activities promote strength and balance and develop coordinated movement. Skills such as galloping, hopping, running, jumping, balancing, swinging, throwing, and pedaling are many of the fundamental activities which are encouraged.
Students also participate in many activities which also develop their fine-motor skills. Activities involving eye-hand coordination and object-handling activities which emphasize precision of movement are included. Manipulating puzzle pieces, pegs, and playdough; cutting with scissors; and drawing and painting are foundational skills practiced in PK3 and PK4 which are needed for handwriting, keyboarding, and manipulating complex objects.
Students in our PK3 and PK4 have ample recess time so they can participate in an unstructured play. Staff members at The Branch School believe that unstructured play, especially during the early years, allows for healthy brain development and is an essential part of social-emotional learning. Through unstructured play, students can learn how to share, work through conflicts, and learn how to work collaboratively.
Peacemaking and Problem Solving
Research shows that students can think more deeply and creatively in a peaceful environment. The Branch School is committed to teaching our students the importance of engaging in peacemaking to resolve conflicts and improve communication skills with their classmates. Students are encouraged to brainstorm logical consequences for their actions. They learn the steps of peacemaking through a willingness to honestly listen to understand and then be understood and agree on a resolution that includes compassion for all involved. Routinely participating in this process brings a more peaceful atmosphere to their classroom community.
What can you expect in the Preschool Program?
- Nurturing environment
- Opportunities for social development
- Peacemaking skills - where children practice using positive words and actions in solving problems
- Rich language development
- Block building
- Dramatic play - dress up and imaginative play
- Experiments in cooking
- Songs and storytelling
- Age-appropriate activities
- Learning while playing
- Plenty of outside time that includes environmental education and hands-on discovery in the Outdoor Classroom
- Literature-based and theme-based learning
- Dictation of stories to teachers
- Movement developing fine and gross motor skills
- Daily exposure and instruction in Spanish to enrich learning
Preschoolers learn best through exploration and play, and our classrooms provide many materials and equipment in learning centers, which promote intellectual, social, moral, and physical development. Our students have many choices for creative, imaginative play - the young child's avenue for learning. As children explore various topics (i.e. home), they learn more about the world around them. Art, circle time, block playing, dramatic play, story time, and centers all revolve around the main area of focus. Children often bring items from home that relate to their unit of study. Areas of study come into focus as the children pose questions about what they are learning. We love questions! Real learning takes place for these preschoolers as they learn by doing.