The Serendipity Approach
Ingredients to a Happy Childhood
Children learn through hands on play and structured activities in our well-organized learning centers. Our classroom is organized into learning environments. These are the places within our classroom where the children can find the toys and materials related by theme, interest, and skills. These activities and toys can be used independently by the children, or with teacher direction, to reinforce and enrich skills and concepts they need. Learning environments are an excellent way to individualize the curriculum to meet the varying needs of young children.
The Serendipity philosophy is rooted in the understanding that children pass through a series of predictable, orderly stages of growth. The knowledge of these stages of development provides a framework to use when planning age-appropriate environments and experiences. Your child is recognized as unique, having his/her own personality, learning style, family values and background. The Serendipity goal is to foster children's competence in all aspects of life by providing balanced opportunities for all parts of their personalities to grow and develop. Our program maintains a child-centered approach, putting the interests and needs of the children above all else... even the daily schedule. I take cues from them, constantly observing and truly listening to what each child is saying.
Some of the skills we develop on a daily basis include:
Children learn listening skills, how to follow simple instructions, and how to follow along with the group. This is also an important time for each child to have a turn as the leader and share important thoughts.
Large and Small Group Instruction
Children benefit from both kinds of instruction. Often the children themselves initiate the group size and direction.
Music and Dance
Children have lots of opportunities to use and create music both with and without instruments, their voices, rhythms of their hands and feet, and opportunities to dance freely and use props such as scarves, ribbons, shakers, and much more.
Children are encouraged to use their imaginations to “become” both animate and inanimate objects, to move like an elephant, wiggle like spaghetti, or jump like a kangaroo!
Early Literacy Skills
Early literacy skills include identifying and naming letters, sounds and rhythms of words. Other early literacy skills include practicing hand-eye coordination, fine tuning spatial relationships, practicing using fine and gross motor skills in their fingers, hands and arms, using scissors, (these muscles in their arms, hands and fingers are the same ones they will eventually use to write with!) listening to and creating stories of their own, dictating stories, beginning invented spelling and sounding out words, learning the letters in their names, and more. The children are learning literacy skills through the context of their everyday experiences.
Early numeracy skills (such as identifying and naming numbers)
Other early numeracy skills include learning to pattern, sequence, string items, making predictions/estimates, sorting, stacking, problem solving, measuring and pouring, geometric shapes and balancing them in the block corner! When children participate in passing out snack they are learning to add, multiply, and divide! How else can everyone get the same number of crackers! The children are learning early numeracy skills through the context of their everyday experiences.
Critical Thinking Skills
Children are learning how to solve problems and how to apply their skills to their everyday experiences.
Children are using their imaginations to play cooperatively with their peers; they are dressing up, assuming new roles, practicing life skills, and using props to expand their play. As much as possible, this kind of play is facilitated by offering props and situations to extend creative expression. For example if the children are working in the play kitchen area, as the teacher I may bring out a cash register, menus, pencils, an apron, a small table and chairs, and before you know it...they have figured out that they want to run a restaurant! They weren’t told to open a restaurant, but they found props to spur their imaginations, and create one! This kind of imaginary play is vitally important for children to experience because they use their skills to play out roles that they see in their everyday lives, as well as ones only available in their imaginations.
Art materials are always available to the children in our classroom. They have access to the art closet! Not only that, but the easels are mounted on the wall and children are offered a variety of interesting materials to choose from to create art any way they like, pretty much any time they want to! Serendipity preschool believes in open-ended art, which is a way to describe art that is conceived by offering materials and opportunity, without specific direction as to what the child is supposed to create. We do not believe in telling children what to create; you will never see two art projects that look alike in our classroom! That’s not saying that a teacher shouldn’t interact with the artist, (I certainly do!) My role as teacher is to facilitate the process, to ask the child to describe what they are making, ask the child if they want to add a story to their art, to ask the child what they want to do with their art when they are finished, ask if they want to take it home or hang it up and where. We are always on the lookout for interesting items to add to our art closet!
Lots and Lots of Outside Play Time
Children need lots of time to play outside, to move freely and to experience fresh air and space to roam! We spend as much time outside as we possibly can, depending on the weather. The learning doesn’t stop when we go outdoors either! We bring activities outside with us, from books, to paints, to trucks and animal props, and more. We get really, really messy and have a wonderful time.
After all, this is what being a happy child is all about!