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Our Philosophy

While young children are active, independent learners,  social interactions with family members, teachers, and classmates play a crucial role in their development.

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  • At the core of our deeply rooted developmental philosophy is a sincere respect for young children and a commitment to fostering their lifelong love of learning.

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  • In line with Piaget’s theory of constructivism, we believe that young children are active learners who “construct” their knowledge through hands-on experiences with developmentally appropriate learning materials.

  • As they explore their learning environments, preschoolers observe, investigate, experiment, solve problems, and develop new understandings (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). 

  • We are also mindful of Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism. Through guided interactions with caring adults, and through cooperative experiences with siblings and peers, preschoolers’ new discoveries are facilitated and their learning is enhanced.

  • At the Sunshine School, our skilled teachers support each student’s learning through careful observation to assess their individual level of understanding. They then offer guidance, through active engagement with students during activities. They may ask questions, pose additional challenges, or add new materials to extend the activity.

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  • Students are encouraged to cooperate in their investigations, and they are supported in learning from one another.

Play is the Most Important Work That Preschoolers Can Do

Through dramatic play, young children process daily experiences in their homes and communities. They gain important cognitive insights, strengthen their physical capabilities, and develop valuable social skills.

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  • At the Sunshine School, we create "purposeful play" centers in which students have opportunities to run their own restaurants, bakeries, and fire stations. Budding veterinarians treat sick animals, and paleontologists conduct dinosaur fossil excavations. Students often come up with their own ideas for dramatic play centers based on their specific interests. The possibilities are endless.

  • Academic concepts, we believe, should not be taught in isolation but integrated into students’ dramatic play. Signs, menus, and order pads can be added to a class café to support literacy and cash registers can be placed in restaurant and store-themed play to introduce the math concepts of money and counting.

  • In the context of play, we have learned, academic concepts are experienced as more personally meaningful for young children, and their usefulness is highlighted.

  • Our educators at The Sunshine School believe that providing our students with a wide variety of rich dramatic play opportunities is one of our most important jobs.

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The Value of Sensory Play

  • ​Sensory play, and experience with a variety of tools, helps preschoolers build hand strength, dexterity, and endurance, frequently referred to as "fine motor" skills. The development of these skills supports early and future writing success.

  • We provide frequent opportunities for work with play dough, clay, sand, ice, water and many other sensory materials. Through transferring and pouring liquids, and molding soft materials, such as sand and play dough, students strengthen their hand muscles.

  • As they use tools such as tweezers, tongs, basters, and eye droppers, young children continue to build their hand strength and dexterity. This makes the writing process easier and less frustrating. 

  • When presented in the context of dramatic play (for example, while bathing dinosaurs), sensory experiences promote a variety of academic and Kindergarten readiness skills.

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Developmental Art Projects Provide Opportunities For Individual Expression

  • According to Eric Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development, preschoolers are striving to develop autonomy, initiative, and a sense of personal control over their learning (Erikson, 1950).

  • These psychological needs underscore the importance of choice in preschool learning activities and a need for individual expression (Erikson, 1950). 

  • At the Sunshine School, we offer art experiences that promote students' feelings of autonomy and individuality, which, in turn, enhance their pride in their work.

  • We invite children to explore interesting art materials, presented in appealing contexts, and we encourage them to arrange and apply them in their own unique ways.

  • In fact, many of our art projects provide creative opportunities for students to develop  fine motor skills for writing activities. They may squeeze eye droppers, or paint with unique materials such as feathers and flowers. Students work regularly with clay (above), which helps build their hand strength, and they add small, decorative items to their creations in unique ways.

  • Art projects often explore science concepts, such as color mixing, chemical reactions, and changes in matter.

  • We believe that language is also an important aspect of preschool art, so we spend time talking and listening to students as they create, encouraging them to express themselves verbally, and tell us about their creations as we record their words. 

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Quality Outdoor Learning Experiences Are Crucial For All Aspects of Development

  • At The Sunshine School, students spend a large portion of their school days outside, both on our beautiful playground and on  an outdoor patio off the classrooms.

  • A variety of outdoor learning centers, including dramatic play stations, science  activities, building centers, sensory exploration tables, and large motor activities are offered daily and rotated each week.

  • Through our Motor Development Program, large motor skills such as walking across a balance beam, throwing, catching, and kicking a ball, standing and hopping on one foot, and  galloping and skipping are all practiced regularly.

  • Music and movement activities, with bean bags, scarves, and streamers, are also conducted outside on a regular basis. Students enjoy dress up and dance together on our outdoor stage as well.

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