Program hours are 8:50am – 3:00pm. We offer before-school care starting at 8:00am. After-school care is available until 6:00pm every day. Our short day option, 8:50am-1:00pm, is offered on a space-available basis. We also offer camps during many school vacations and over the summer. Our early childhood program operates on a school year schedule, from September until June.
Four mixed-age classrooms on our Early Childhood Campus serve children from 2.7 to 5 years old. Our Early Childhood program is based on the premise that young children flourish with gentle guidance and the freedom to work at their own pace. Our classrooms follow the Montessori model and incorporate Reggio other educational methods to stimulate independent and social learning activities.
We also offer a Transitional Kindergarten program for children, often on the cusp in terms of age or development, who would benefit from another year in our program before entering Kindergarten.
Children at this age learn approximately fifty words a day, not just through our language curriculum, but by being immersed in a rich environment that promotes personal stories, daily read alouds, sound games, alphabet stamps, social problem solving, and negotiation. Language lesson happen all day, everyday. Structured and spontaneous lessons build vocabulary, writing skills and beginning composition.
Our beautiful outdoor learning environment allows children to explore nature and begin to compare and contrast living and non-living things. Initiated by the children’s curiosity, teachers follow their lead to develop curriculum that explains the wonders of nature and how they as individuals can interact with it to promote and preserve all living organisms.
The Montessori curriculum provides many concrete manipulatives that build the foundation of a student’s understanding including number sense, geometry, and sequence. Basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are routinely explored. More complex lessons involve discovery of odd and even numbers, number recognition through 1000, skip counting and visual comparisons of large and small numbers.
As one of many languages that children explore, art at the ECC is always available and encouraged. Through drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture, children are provided many modalities to express themselves and their thinking. Teachers acknowledge student’s work and encourage further explorations by soliciting ideas to connect their art to other subject areas.
The Berkeley School introduces cultural studies by exposing children to land and water forms, as well as the continents and their individual characteristics. By using maps, puzzles and globes, children begin to see the connection between themselves and the larger world.
Research has documented that through play (or work) children learn how to problem solve, negotiate, build language skills, increases attention span and yes, have fun. Play is actually a language where children learn how to set boundaries, develop relationships, learn sequences and consequences. Students have opportunities to play all day long in both structured and unstructured environments.
Engaging preschool children in activities that foster independence, self-confidence and self-control are critical to the formation of their self-esteem now and in the years to come. Knowing they can act and interact confidently with everyday materials moves each child toward independence. These activities develop concentration, sense of order, attention to details, and small motor coordination. All of these deliberate activities encourage the child to match their development so they can honestly say, “I can do it myself.” Some of these activities include: table washing, pouring, folding, pushing in chairs, rolling a mat, walking carefully in the classroom, greeting people, using manners to express themselves, and lining up and sharing materials. Practical life skills are reinforced in the classroom and outside as children navigate their outdoor play environment.
Music and movement at the ECC provide a rich sensory experience for students. We believe that music enriches each child’s life in many positive ways. Each day, classroom teachers lead students in songs and rhythmic exercises to help the children be aware of a transition, to reinforce a conceptual understanding, to celebrate a special day, or just to have fun. Students also enjoy a special music class once a week from a trained teaching musician. They are exposed to a variety of percussion and string instruments to begin their understanding of pitch, tempo, rhythm, and melody.