HOW WE EXPLORE, WONDER, AND SPEND OUR DAYS TOGETHER, AS A COMMUNITY.
River East School is an organically blended mix of a play and curriculum-based program with influence from the Constructivist Approach to learning, among other progressive educational approaches and philosophies. We do not perform individualized testing, nor do we use a fixed curriculum to govern the social, artistic, and developmental needs of the children. We do focus on group learning with elements of customized teaching throughout the day. Our classroom schedule is a combination of transition-based, nutrition-based, project-based, and play-based activities. We offer opportunities to explore openly and physically as well as options to continue ongoing explorations in small group settings.
8:30 am-9:30 am
At 8:30 the teachers open up the back gate and begin welcoming friends in to start their days! We begin our days in the backyard because we find that the open space is an inviting scene that eases the transition for the friends. The back entrance also allows for more privacy and safety for bo edxth the friends and parents during this time. Every morning the teachers set up several provocations (invitations to explore) in the outdoor atelier, sandbox, sensory bins, building space, or our large observational drawing table that often doubles as an outdoor kitchen island. We have found that by starting off the day with provocations the friends are engaged right away and this makes the goodbyes significantly faster and smoother. We allot thirty minutes for morning drop off because it is very important to us that we have the opportunity to check in with each parent and child before they start the day.
9:30 am-10:00 am
The Friends transition inside by cleaning up their spaces or saving their work for continued exploration, they wash hands and everyone takes a seat around our large community table. Each friend that helped prepare breakfast that morning excitedly waits to share with their peers what it was that they made for them to enjoy. We view mealtimes as an opportunity to share and reflect as a community, so this time is often filled with storytelling from both the friends and the teachers.
10:15 am-11:00 am
Morning circle is an essential part of our day. Not only are there books and songs, yoga and music, but this is really a time when we come together as a community to share our thoughts, ideas, problem solve and work collaboratively, as a team. Depending on the topic or exploration, circle times can last for up to an hour. These sessions typically end in some sort of collaborative artwork, sometimes free-flowing, and sometimes a challenge where each friend adds to the prior's friend’s artwork to create something together, something bigger than ourselves.
11:00 am- 12:15 pm
Opportunities to engage in circle time extension small group work and continue the morning provocations or explorations in progress are offered to the Friends as well as the much loved and necessary open play. We juice, cook, create sensory experiences such as slime, kinetic sand, play dough, and stem experiments. We color mix, paint, work on collaborative pieces and go for neighborhood walks. We build villages, create obstacle courses, do water play and so so much more.
After the friends clean up the indoor and outdoor spaces we transition to lunch. Lunch is spent in the same spirits as breakfast. After lunch, all the friends check in with their bodies before heading to the nap room. The nappers have a dark, quiet room with white noise and two teachers who help the friends fall asleep by assisting them in regulating their bodies. We always start by asking each child if they would like help falling asleep. The method the teacher employs to assist friends wanting help depends on the individual child, whether it be rubbing or patting their back, stroking their hair, or maybe the friends choose to have no additional assistance.
All of the friends are invited to the nap room. Some of our older friends that choose to opt out of nap, remain in the main classroom for quiet time on individual cots. We provide them with calming toys and other tools for self care as this is still a time for them to rest and recharge their bodies.
At 1:30 the non-nappers help put their cots and calming toys away as we reset the space for the afternoon. As most of the friends are napping this is an opportunity for the non-nappers to help make snack, play board games, make jewelry, have conversations while sharing their ideas and do small group work involving early literacy and math skills that is a bit more developmentally mature.
TRANSITION TO LUNCH
TRANSITION TO NAP | REST TIME
12:15 am- 1:00 pm
1:30 pm-2:30 pm
2:30 pm- 3:15 pm
OUTDOOR PLAY TRANSITION FROM NAP
At 2:30, we open the outside space and head outside. Friends can choose to engage in small group work or open play. This time is very much a transition time for the napping friends. As friends wake up from nap, they join the group, after taking care of their bodily needs and getting a good ol' sunscreen application. The non-nappers tend to utilize this time by being more physical with their bodies, in their imaginative play, a rough and tumble session or obstacle course.
3:30 pm- 3:55 pm
TRANSITION TO PICK-UP
All the friends take their inventory and gather their belongings, and artwork from the day, putting it in their bags. Then we all meet outside for a picnic snack, a story, game, or song before the day is over. Friends get picked up from 3:30-3:55. Another successful day, full of questions and explorations with the most empathetic, thoughtful community of RES friends!
Once all of the friends have left for the day the teachers reset the space. Due to the fact that we view the environment as the third teacher, a great deal of time is spent cleaning, maintaining and resetting the space for the following day. The teachers also take this opportunity to reflect on their observations and documentation collected from the day in order to make decisions on which direction to take the curriculum next.