The Neighborhood Playgarden curriculum is a play-based, non-academic approach to developing skills designed to provide a firm foundation for later academic success. Here your child can develop feelings of security, accomplishment, and self-esteem while living the daily and weekly rhythms that are woven into the cycle of the year.
Daily your child is nurtured by free play and structured activities. On any given day, we may enjoy singing, movement, art, stories, gardening and animal care, and lots of outside time.
Weekly we enjoy arts and crafts, coloring, baking, household tasks, and hikes and excursions to nature spots throughout our urban environment.
Throughout the year we celebrate life with seasonal festivals, family camping and community gatherings. Together we work to improve the school grounds and gardens. Parents are encouraged to share their skills and passions with us.
The young child’s senses are open and receptive to every element in their environment. All the senses have been taken into account so that we can enjoy a space that is a pleasure to play in for the children and a pleasure to work in for the teachers.
Open areas are provided for groups of children to gather and smaller spaces are set aside where one or two can play quietly.
Inside, the children’s creative imaginations are complemented by wooden blocks and toys, a rainbow of play clothes and handmade dolls, vivid beeswax crayons, and books.
Outdoors, the children’s rich imaginative lives come alive in a secure play yard. A sand area is seeded with hidden ‘treasures’ to excavate. Children have daily opportunities for working in the garden and caring for our bunny and chickens during outside play time. Our outside area also includes a woodworking area, a clay table, creative messy art area, water tables and a large sandbox. In the spring of 2013 a committed group of parents raised funds to build a tree house partially made of branches we collected on our weekly nature hikes.
Our proximity to Kite Hill and the Corwin St. Garden lets us play outdoors in the neighborhood regularly. Our weekly nature hikes provide plenty of opportunity for nature exploration.
Our teachers are caring adults dedicated to the well being and growth of each child. Each teacher has prepared for the important task of nurturing the growth of the next generation. This preparation includes Lifeways training and continuing courses in Waldorf education through Rudolf Steiner College as well as child development course offered through accredited colleges that qualify us to offer a Preschool For All program for our four year olds.
Parent participants take turns providing support for classroom activities and helping to ensure that each child is cared for in a homelike environment.
Food at NPG
Food is an integral part of our day at NPG. The children help to prepare some of the food we share together each day. We also grow some of what we eat in our organic garden. We serve snacks and lunch according to the guidelines of the Federal Food Program. For children who stay for a full day of care, a hearty dinner is provided at 5 p.m. In addition, we strive to bring the highest quality food to the children with nutrient dense organic ingredients and pasture raised eggs and meats whenever possible. We are inspired by the work of Sally Fallon and Nourishing Our Children. We make our own stock and bread each week.
Children are sensory beings who learn with their whole bodies. Immersion in the natural world is one of the best teachers in early childhood. Our backyard is designed with the imagination of a child in mind. There are herbs and flowers to pick, real shovels for digging, a woodworking area, and a large sandbox seeded with treasures to find and a tree house to climb. We go outside nearly every day at NPG no matter what the weather. Once a week we also spend the morning outdoors, usually at Glen Park. On Fridays we take a neighborhood walk and enjoy Kite Hill and the Corwin Street Community Garden. We care for our classroom pets: John the Rabbit and our three bantam hens who lay eggs most days. The children are involved in working in our organic garden and enjoy weeding and planting and watering. In addition, we have planted herbs and flowers that the children are welcome to use to make soups and "potions" while they play in the mud kitchen. As much as possible, we offer daily outdoor art activities.
The inner life of the child is supported through celebrating seasonal festivals. As a community we celebrate together with our fall lantern walk, our Winter Solstice gathering, the annual Spring Egg Hunt and our May Faire. Our festivals incorporate nature and the traditions of the currently enrolled families during the school mornings with the children.