Q. Why does Purple Circle operate a 5 day a week program, only? Often, it feels bittersweet when it comes time for your child to go to school. It is understandable, therefore, that a full week of school feels even harder to adjust to. However, there are distinct advantages in supporting your child’s attendance in a five day program. Infants, toddlers and preschoolers rely on consistency of routine in their lives generally. A 5-day nursery or pre-school in which children can personally anticipate their daily events gives them a sense of security. Having a more reliable daily rhythm benefits their development.
Young children, especially those who are separating from their families and/caregivers for the first time, are able to foresee routine with regard to separation when they attend school 5 days. When the continuity of a five day week is interrupted, children often struggle on alternate days as if they are new to the school, once again. Allowing young children time to master routines, transitions and schedules empowers them and affords them a sense of security.
For very young children as well as preschoolers, attending a full week program gives them time to develop meaningful connections with their teachers and classmates. The continuity of experience makes it possible for children to visit and revisit materials, activities, and interests that hold special meaning for them in their classroom community. This comfort supports their independence and willingness to venture out, taking risks – socially, emotionally and cognitively.
Q. Will my child learn things that will ready him/her for kindergarten? Through play, children learn to classify, sort, identify patterns, predict, and realize the importance of the written word, thus laying the foundation for reading readiness. They experience science, math, music and movement, and art through their exploration of the environment and the materials. Circle times and group discussions happen several times throughout the day as a time for children to come together as a group, express their individual ideas and questions, and listen to others.
When children are given opportunities to express their own ideas and questions during meeting times, they quickly come to the understanding that their individual voices matter. They begin to respect their own ideas and questions, as well as those of others. They develop the expectation that their thinking and wondering deserves to be valued by others. Recognizing their own worth as learners and thinkers is one of the foundations upon which a life-long love of learning is built. In addition, when an individual child’s idea is intriguing to his or her classmates, that idea may become contagious, often transforming an individual’s wonderings into group investigations, providing further opportunities for other children to participate creatively. During this time, children learn how to resolve social disputes, and how to live and work in a group with others. Elementary schools that recent Purple Circle graduates have attended.
Q. How does Purple Circle put into practice its stated commitment to supporting each child as a unique individual, making space for them as thinkers, learners and makers?
It is through close observation of each child over time that teachers come to understand what each child is curious about and wants to know. It is through this close listening and watching that teachers also come to know how each child approaches their learning, i.e.: the method or style they employ to gather and further their understandings. Based upon the work of these observations, classrooms are provisioned with materials (specific and general) that are used by the children to facilitate their learning. Each classroom, therefore, contains different materials not just to suit the development and age of children but to suit the individual child’s passions and interests. The materials in classrooms change to reflect the evolving interests of the children who inhabit them.
Q. How do the teachers at Purple Circle document what they come to know about each child? The teachers use their copious observation notes which are written over time as the basis for writing a descriptive review of each child based upon the work of Patricia Carini and her colleagues at the Prospect School for Children in Bennington, Vermont. Each review encompasses the following 5 headings:
• Physical Presence and Gesture
• Disposition and Temperament
• Connections with Others
• Preferred Interests
• Modes of Thinking and Learning
These reviews are written with descriptive, non-judgmental anecdotes. The reviews are respectful of each child and are primarily written through the lens of each child’s strengths, although this is never antithetical to reflecting a child’s vulnerabilities if need be. The reviews are shared with each family just before the spring Parent/Teacher Conference at which time families receive their own copy to keep.
Q. How does Purple Circle build bridges for children between home and school? Since children take a courageous leap of faith when they leave their family members and their homes to cross the thresholds of our classrooms and spend their days with us (many of them spend long days), it is imperative to us that each of them feel safe and at home away from home.
Prior to the start of the school year, teachers make visits to the homes of children who are new to Purple Circle. During these visits, the teachers learn about the lives of the children at home and what is important to them. These visits are the first opportunities for trusting relationships between children and their teachers.
In our infant and toddler classrooms, we offer primary care in which each teacher is responsible for her primary group of children (usually 2-4 children). In our toddler classroom, the “Little Kids” room, we offer primary care in which each teacher is responsible for her primary group of children (usually 3-4 children). Close bonds are established between the teachers and children within these intimate groups as well as between the children with one another. The children’s transitions and experiences related to home, such as toileting, resting, dressing, eating, etc. are the responsibility of that particular group’s teacher.
Purple Circle teachers hold two formal conferences with families per year, in the fall and the spring. However, all year long, day in and day out, teachers are interested in communicating with family members as part of an ongoing dialogue and partnership on behalf of each child in a teacher’s care. In addition, newsletters describing the events in each classroom go home to families at the end of each month. These newsletters contain photos and details about the children’s lives at school. Of course, should further communication be of necessity, teachers and administration are available by phone, direct email and classroom group email.
Q. What is Purple Circle’s approach to discipline? Each situation is unique and handled uniquely. For our youngest children, conflicts may arise over space and materials. In these situations, we acknowledge the children’s feelings and needs. We then help them to come up with different ideas, sometimes finding it necessary to supply words for them.
We also encourage older children to use their words. Children are active participants in the rule-making, and we explore with children how rules are made. This is part of the curriculum. Giving children the responsibility of creating their own rules helps them cultivate harmony with others in their classroom.
We always acknowledge children’s feelings and respect their needs. The goal is to help children use their words and ideas to solve problems. We attend with care and carefully to each child’s specific interests and connections to others; because we attend to individuality, there is no specific guide or prescription to discipline. It all depends on who the child is. .
Q. What happens during the afternoon program? The children have an opportunity to revisit projects they started in the morning. For children who arrive at 2:10, there is a smooth transition as they join the others. Later in the afternoon, children participate in circle time music and movement activities, as well as art projects, free play, and story time. Small groups often explore the neighborhood, visiting the library, local parks and the Farmer’s Market.
Q. Why do children rest during school hours? Children have a rhythm in the day. At Purple Circle, we provide a balance between outdoor and indoor play, group and individual activities, active and restful times. During rest time, which comes after lunch, lights are dimmed, soothing music and story tapes are played, and the children look at books quietly or take a rest. After rest time, they have a snack and are refreshed and ready to continue their day.
Q. Does my child need to be toilet trained? No. We have a developmental approach. Often, being in an environment where peers are going through similar situations, children are able to look to each other for modeling in this area.
Q. Is Purple Circle a daycare or a preschool?
These phrases are two different concepts. Daycare is typically defined by operational hours consistent with a parent work day. A preschool has a defined philosophy, encourages family involvement, and accommodates children ages two through five. Purple Circle is a full-year preschool offering families a flexibility of hours to meet their individual needs. Purple Circle now provides part and full time, full year care for infants and toddlers, ages 3-24 months.