Early Childhood Philosophy
The Tatnall School is built on the foundational understanding of enriching our individual students’ lives. We offer a nurturing, supportive environment full of dynamic educational experiences. Early Childhood ensures that each student develops key social skills, such as sharing and cooperating, while building academic foundations in language, literacy, numbers, music, and technology. Our primary goal is to build lifelong learners who are unafraid to take risks, experiment with their surroundings, guide their discoveries, and interact with the world around them.
3 Fun Facts about Head of Early Childhood, Adrienne Meade
Before I entered education, I was a professional actor! I toured and visited schools to perform adaptations of Shakespearean plays.
I love animals. I have an especially soft spot in my heart for old dogs.
One of my favorite ways to relax is doing jigsaw puzzles with my family.
Our team of experienced early childhood educators knows that a high-quality experience sets the stage for social, emotional, and academic success in later years. Our staff is committed to providing optimal learning experiences every day. They recognize each child’s unique strengths and provide regular opportunities for individual growth while developing confident learners through our expansive classrooms and nationally recognized outdoor spaces.
With the resources of the entire Tatnall community at their fingertips, our Early Childhood students benefit from a rich, engaging curriculum that promotes boundless exploration and increased self-reliance.
Students develop early math skills through play and experimentation. Math experiences are integrated throughout the day in routines like the calendar, weather, and other numeric principles. Counting skills are introduced and reinforced through hands-on materials to strengthen number sense and one-to-one correspondence. Many math experiences include free play. As the children play with materials, the open-ended nature of the experience allows them to learn while laying the groundwork for later symbolic understanding. Math topics, such as patterns, number sense, counting, and basic measurement, are introduced in a play-based atmosphere where children learn to express their thoughts and give answers.
Students are exposed to literature through poems, rhymes, chants, and stories. Children learn the rhythm of poetry by listening to and repeating rhymes. Listening to stories builds early comprehension skills as students learn to identify details about characters and plots. Students are guided to use illustrations as clues for prediction. The classroom library provides a variety of board books and picture books to encourage independent exploration.
Students are introduced to an exploration of the plant and animal world. The science curriculum welcomes the emergent and diverse interests of three-year-old students. An open-ended approach responds to their innate curiosity. With specific teacher guidance, students learn to formulate “what,” “why,” and “how” questions to gather information and data. They learn to predict by wondering what would, could, or might happen next and are encouraged and supported to explore, collaborate, and discuss as emerging language skills permit. These basic science skills lay the foundation for future inquiry, experimentation, and data recording, components of the Scientific Method.
Students begin to gain an understanding of writing through listening to stories. Group writing encourages brainstorming and idea extension while incorporating vocabulary, rhyme and humor. Imagination and creativity provide inspiration for original story composition, as well as the repetition of known stories. Individual students have opportunities to dictate stories and to illustrate their story creations.
In the PK4 classroom, math instruction still incorporates play and experimentation. Math experiences are progressively integrated throughout the day. Free play with math manipulatives offers open-ended experiences while laying the groundwork for symbolic understanding. Math topics include patterns, number sense, counting, and measurement. More structured activities are conducted in flexible learning environments and implemented specifically based on the ability to extend an activity to the developmental levels of each student. A goal in all math activities is to create a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmosphere in which children are encouraged and empowered to express their thoughts and give answers.
Students explore a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction books, as well as stories, rhymes, and poetry. Children enjoy repeating familiar rhymes and gain ownership of them through memorization and choral recitation. Class discussions build early comprehension skills as students learn to listen for details about characters and plots. Students develop inferencing skills through utilizing picture clues, wondering, and making predictions. Students begin to recognize the progression of a story arc, as well as important features in a story. The classroom library provides a wide range of books to encourage exploration and appreciation of literature.
Students extend the experiences and explorations of the plant and animal world introduced in PK3. Additional topics of study include ecology, health, nutrition and safety, physical science, and earth sciences such as air, water, and weather. The science curriculum intentionally leaves room for the emergent interests of the students. An open-ended approach responds to the curiosity, fascination, and wonder that young students hold about the world around them. In keeping with our campus-wide belief surrounding stewardship for the earth, students learn to reduce waste, plant in and maintain our gardens, and develop an understanding of the ecosystem through our nationally-certified outdoor classrooms. Basic science skills of observation, inquiry, experimentation, and data recording boost an understanding and appreciation of the Scientific Method.
Students are encouraged to become storytellers. As the transcription is read back to the children, they slowly begin to recognize sounds and letters. Completed stories are then illustrated and shared aloud with the class group. Students are encouraged to listen carefully to their friends’ stories, make comments, and ask questions. Storytelling and enactment serve as powerful tools for building early writing skills. Students take what they know about stories and create narratives on their own. They form an understanding of story and character development, setting, and dialogue.
The Early Childhood art program focuses on exposing the students to a wide range of artistic principles and techniques, enhanced by illustrations from art history and different cultures. The goal of the program is to foster a sense of pride, pleasure, and accomplishment in their artistic ability while broadening their artistic knowledge base. The purpose of the activities is the experimentation, creative thinking, problem solving, and learning that happens with each step of the process, rather than just the end product. A similar sequence of artistic concepts is presented at each grade level, but the variety of materials and level of complexity and proficiency is increased at each successive level. These progressive strands include color, line, texture, form, paint, sculpture, and printing. Projects will often reflect integration with classroom themes and school-wide celebrations.
The art area in the PK3 classroom provides opportunities for free exploration with a variety of media. Students develop small motor muscle control through the manipulation of materials such as play dough, large beads, sand, and yarn into free-form art. In addition, children have daily opportunities to choose drawing, painting, cutting and pasting, as well as other craft activities.
Art projects and activities are integrated into classroom instruction in language arts, math, social studies and science. In science, students are encouraged to use their skills of observation while exploring the natural world around them, and then to draw what they see to add to their portfolio. To develop small motor muscle control, children manipulate a wide variety of materials such as play dough, beads, buttons, sand, seeds, and yarn into free-form art. In addition, children choose daily among centers for drawing, painting, cutting, and pasting.
Art activities enhance classroom themes and offer unstructured exploration of a wide variety of media. Students have daily opportunities to draw, paint, create collages, cut and paste. Students are encouraged to use both familiar materials and new ones. Numerous projects are undertaken to give students aesthetic and sensory experiences. The focus during any art project is on the process used by the child, rather than the finished product. Students are encouraged to be creative in representing their thoughts and ideas and to take risks, regarding “mistakes” as learning experiences. Time is taken to reflect on the process. Students share their ideas and learn to give feedback to one another.
The goals of the Early Childhood physical education program derive from Tatnall’s vision to develop a trained mind, a skilled hand, and a healthy body. We encourage the enjoyment of physical pursuits throughout life by helping students be successful and comfortable in various active games, dance, and exercise. Our values are emphasized to build sportsmanship, cooperation, and teamwork. Our learning approach is developmental – accepting and challenging individual fitness levels, skill acquisition, and understanding of strategy.
Five skill areas – locomotor movement, space awareness, manipulative skills, stabilizing skills, and rhythm and dance skills – are developed through age-appropriate activities. An adventure-based component is incorporated as an enhancement to exploring these skills in a non-competitive atmosphere. Participating in various physical initiatives and activities, students are engaged in exploring self and group goals while enhancing their physical fitness, decision-making, and expanding personal comfort levels.
Lessons are designed to optimize the cognitive and physical abilities of our students. They will participate in a series of activities during every PE class. Students are exposed to a locomotor/space awareness activity, a manipulative activity (such as throwing), a non-manipulative activity (such as balancing, stretching, or jumping), and a rhythm activity. Skill themes follow a gradual progression and are reviewed throughout the year after they have been introduced.
The physical education curriculum includes an ongoing focus on developing appropriate social skills such as cooperating, taking turns, and sharing.
In addition to the student's physical needs, Early Childhood also addresses a wellness aspect to physical education. This curriculum consists of three components: physical, preventative, and social/emotional health.
Students learn the benefits of taking care of their body. Lessons on fitness, injury prevention, and nutrition are taught in Physical Education to help students learn to identify healthy choices and activities. Preventative health education and lessons that emphasize the importance of germ prevention, sun safety, and hydration are taught at relevant times during the year. Our PE curriculum emphasizes on the social and emotional health of students throughout each lesson.
Music is an important component of the overall early childhood experience. Students begin their day singing in opening exercises. The children actively engage in music through various musical activities, creating an appreciation of music and the ability to express it. Each child is given opportunities to sing, move, listen, and play while creating musical sounds. Children learn to sing tunefully, develop a steady beat, and play a variety of percussion and barred instruments in a more formal setting of the music room. Music and movement are a natural part of the day and is extended into all facets of a curriculum that enhances our youngest students’ learning. All children are encouraged to have fun and enjoy participating in all aspects of their musical world.