The outdoor classroom
Observing, exploring and playing in the natural world creates the foundation for our educational program. The outdoor world and natural materials offer endless opportunities for creative learning experiences. Animals and their habitats, seasonal changes, and growth cycles of plants and insects inspire questions and exploration. Children develop a sense of caring and concern for the environment as they learn more about the natural world around them. Additionally, we believe that vigorous outdoor play increases a child’s core strength, balance, visual awareness, and sense of self.
Due to the rigorous daily outdoor activities we require that children be dressed appropriately for the weather and that they wear sturdy shoes without laces. In warm weather, we ask parents to apply sunscreen to each child before school; sunscreen and insect repellent will be provided. We go outdoors year round.
Inside at Pine Brook
Children are outside nearly every day, but Pine Brook also offers a wide variety of indoor activities such as art, yoga, music, dramatic play, block building, and literacy development.
We often bring natural materials into the classroom to extend the explorations indoors. In art projects and other classroom activities, children may use stones, wood, shells, sand, mud, vegetables, plants, feathers, bones, and other interesting items.
Pine Brook has one group of children, 3 years to 7 years old (preschool through kindergarten). Our maximum enrollment is 20 per day, divided roughly evenly between preschoolers and kindergarteners, and we have at least two teachers present at all times. Children may be enrolled for 3, 4 or 5 days per week.
Pine Brook runs a combined preschool and kindergarten program. The kindergarten is approved by our local school district for children enrolled three, four or five days per week. The preschoolers and kindergartners spend periods of joint and separate activity. Our program is rich in active exploration, experimentation and play.
Children learn best when skills such as counting, number and letter recognition, consonant sounds and simple math grow out of their own interests and play. Therefore, we strive to integrate reading, writing and math in to the daily activities of creating stories, doing science experiments, drawing, building with blocks and dramatic play. In addition, the kindergarten children spend two periods each day engaged in focused reading, writing, math or science activities.