Berrybrook School

First Year Program

For children age 3 by September 1

Children enrolling in our First Year Program may choose to attend 2 or 3 days per week. For many children, this will be their first school experience. Teachers recognize that each child is unique and they work with each family to accomplish a successful transition to school. To help all children experience positive and enjoyable first days at school, we have a tradition of shortened days at the beginning of the school year. There are lots of new things to experience, including meeting teachers, new friends, and learning classroom routines and our shortened class sessions ease the transition.

Home visits are a Berrybrook tradition, and they have proven to be a very important way to help with the home-school transition. Each child has a short 15-20 minute visit at their home with one of their teachers during the first weeks of school. This visit allows a little one-on-one time in a familiar setting. Having a bit of familiarity outside of school often helps with separation.

Berrybrook School has many traditions. Making jelly in the fall, tapping maple trees in the spring, and celebrating a traditional “Berrybrook Birthday” are just a few examples. In addition to tried and true Berrybrook traditions, the Early Childhood Curriculum at Berrybrook emphasizes child-centered and child-initiated learning. When planning curriculum, teachers adhere to standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children as well as the Massachusetts Department of Education Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences. The guidelines cover learning in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology/Engineering, History and Social Science, Health Education, and the Arts. Children learn through play and meaningful activities presented in a developmental sequence. Teachers help children work together, become part of their classroom community, and learn through exploration. We allow children time to think and to contemplate, and to become active and engaged learners. The daily schedule is designed to provide a familiar routine, but flexible enough to be adjusted based on the needs of the group.

Children arrive with parents and put their belongings into their cubby. The next step is washing hands. Depending on the child’s needs, the parent may say goodbye and the child is greeted by the teacher and guided through hand washing. Some children may ask a parent to say goodbye after they have washed their hands. It is important that a goodbye is said to the child and that a teacher is aware that a parent is leaving.

Each classroom has a bathroom for children to use as needed. Dry, clean clothes are kept at school. For children who are unable to use the toilet consistently, teachers work with parents to create an individual plan for toileting procedures.

The majority of each session is Independent Choice Time. Many activities, most based on a common curriculum topic are available during this time. Children may choose block building, housekeeping, writing center, playdough table, easel painting, puzzles, small manipulatives, water table, sand table, or the daily project. Teachers encourage children to participate in many activities. The daily project is optional. It is not uncommon for some children to choose not to create a particular project or for some children to create more than one.

Teachers and children also gather together as a class. Group story time occurs every day. Stories reflect and extend the current curriculum. Books are also always available in the reading center, and later in the year a listening center is introduced so children can listen to books on tape or CD independently or with a friend. We also gather for circle time where we learn songs, finger plays, have discussions, play games, and learn to take turns. This time together is a fun, fulfilling time as a group.

After everyone helps to clean up, children wash hands and sit down together with teachers to enjoy a school provided snack. We begin snack with a song every day. By the second week of school, you may be hearing “Make New Friends” at your house! After snack, children play outside everyday with the exception of rain or freezing temperatures. The children learn, with teacher guidance, to dress themselves for the outdoors. Berrybrook curriculum extends to the outdoors and there are many and varied learning opportunities on the playgrounds.

At the end of our morning, the Berrybrook bell is rung to signal the end of school. Children will gather with their classmates. Parents are asked to sign out their child and check their cubby. It is important to remember that once your child is signed out, you are responsible for supervision. The playground a very busy place at pick up time and the safety of children is important to us all.

Teachers welcome parents in our classrooms. In October, teachers organize a Parent Discussion Group to discuss volunteering in the classroom. During this evening meeting parents and teachers review expectations and helpful hints for parent volunteers. Once teachers feel the children have mastered separation and are ready to have their parents in the classroom, a volunteer sign-up sheet will be posted.

A First Year Parent Orientation Night is scheduled before school starts to answer any questions parents may have. Communication continues throughout the year in parent conferences, a monthly newsletter, email, and social media. In addition, Teachers and Administrators are happy to arrange a meeting with parents at their request. Berrybrook School values and works toward strong, reciprocal communication.

 

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