We aim to strike a happy balance between child- and teacher-directed activities each day to provide both structured and free learning opportunities. Children this age are busy learning through every game they play, and they tend to be kinesthetic learners who want and need to be active. Here are some of the key elements that keep our program varied and stimulating:
Our classrooms are arranged with toys and crafts in different theme areas, or “learning centres.” Most days begin with self-directed play, so students can choose an area to explore. Some examples include the costume cupboard, the cars and trucks corner, the painting easel, the building blocks, the sand table, the dollhouse, the reading rug, and craft tables where the teachers set up a different project each day. Our teachers allow for plenty of playtime; they circulate among and interact with the children, guiding them and asking questions to help stimulate their imaginations.
Circle Time provides a more structured period in the day. The children learn to follow directions, to take turns, and to communicate with others. They also learn about the days of the week and begin, through songs, games, and stories, to learn pre-literacy skills and early math skills such as patterning.
All of our classes enjoy daily time in our “mini-gym”. No matter the weather, our students are physically active every day. We use hoops, balls, parachutes, bean bags, and lots of music and games for organized physical play.
We have access to three fenced play-yards that we share with the Canmore Daycare. They allow us ample opportunity to play active games such as “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” and “Red Rover.” We also venture out into our neighborhood on walks and scavenger hunts, with additional parent helpers.
All parents are asked to volunteer once every four to six weeks to be “Parent-of-the-Day,” spending the morning in their child’s class and assisting the teacher. Not only do children love having their parent visit class, but our surveys of past families have shown that parents value this as well. The law requires two adults per classroom, so Parents-of-the-Day also help us keep our fees low. For families that find this aspect of the program difficult, we do offer options. More details…
We encourage community visitors to our classrooms, such as wildlife conservation officers, nurses, RCMP, dental hygienists, the Biosphere Institute, dog-sled teams, firefighters, grandparents, etc.
Canmore Preschool actively teaches empathy. Each year we seek out a family with a newborn who are willing to visit our classrooms once each month. This allows our students to watch their newborn friend grow over the course of the year. Students will measure their friend and notice as the baby learns to smile, move, and vocalize. We also incorporate literacy circles to better understand our feelings and the feelings of others.
Handwriting Without Tears
Our teachers have attended workshops on Handwriting Without Tears and are incorporating these techniques in the classroom. In our 4-year-old Pre-K classes, there are daily literacy activities and a letter-of-the-week as our students learn to write the alphabet and their own names. More details…
We are lucky to have additional musical and theatrical enrichment for both the 3- and 4-year-old classes. Tangle McClaron of Entangled Puppetry will come to preschool each month to sing songs, play instruments, and dance with each of our classes. More details…
Body Moves Classes
The four-year-olds attend an outstanding monthly physical education program called Body Moves. We used to take the bus to the recreation centre for this activity, but we’re excited that now our instructors come to the Preschool Mini-Gym.
Art making is a daily activity, both in free time at the easel and in prepared crafts. We also organize special projects designed for different seasons and events, and participate in the Town of Canmore’s annual Children’s Art Exhibition.
All of our classes take regular field trips on the school bus to the library, and out and about for other special events, such as cross-country skiing. Occasionally, parents are asked to pick up students from locations other than the preschool (i.e. the library) at the end of classes.
Each month we feature a different Colour Day where we ask students to dress in that colour and bring a snack in that colour, if possible (black snacks, anyone?). We also have holiday parties and theme days such as Hawaiian Beach Day.
Class sizes are kept to a maximum of 15 children for 4-year-olds, and 12 children for 3-year-olds, with one qualified teacher plus a parent helper in each class. The afternoon 4-year-old program now also has a classroom aide 3 days per week.