Every child deserves to be known and loved, and our small class sizes and low student/teacher ratios empower us to live this value every day. BCD Preschool is a unique learning environment where teachers can build meaningful relationships with each student, nurture their strengths, and help them meet goals through focused, individualized attention.
Preschool is all about learning how to be kind and thoughtful, be a good friend, and give back. That’s why our motto—Respect yourself. Respect others. Take responsibility for your actions.—is emphasized throughout the school, and character development is an important part of each day. Conflict resolution skills are taught on a daily basis as teachers model appropriate communication, behaviors, words, and strategies for expressing emotion.
Our classrooms and routines are structured and follow a general “flow” each day. However, our routines are flexible and maintain a balance in all that we do. We challenge our students to reach their highest potential by using research-based curriculum and differentiated teaching practices.
Our faculty is the heart and soul of BCD, and every member of our preschool teaching staff is committed and passionate about early childhood. Preschool lead teachers have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in early childhood or elementary education (or a degree in a different field and coursework in early childhood education). Preschool assistant teachers are all qualified early childhood teachers in the State of Colorado. BCD encourages professional growth by providing our faculty opportunities to engage in ongoing professional development and continuing education.
Our beautiful BCD campus is a safe and secure place for young minds to begin their educational journeys. What’s more, being part of a bigger school means our outstanding facilities are unmatched by any other preschool in the area.
Learning Lives in the Heart and Mind
Our preschool program is rooted in the belief that learning to navigate the social world is the most important thing that children learn while at school. Preschool is all about discovering how to be kind and thoughtful, be a good friend, and how to follow the “golden rule” of life. We strive to truly LIVE our school motto—Respect yourself. Respect others. Take responsibility for your actions. With this in mind, character development is embedded indaily real-life experiences that span from the sandbox to the block area, to dramatic play. Our preschool teachers lovingly guide and intentionally foster children’s social and emotional growth, with the understanding that learning to work in groups, share, make choices, and respectfully engage with others is an important part of learning and integral to success in life.
Our curriculum uses language arts and literacy as its framework. Our method of teaching incorporates best practices in education while supporting major objectives in language arts and literacy, number concepts, science, social studies, self-help skills, fine and gross motor skills, and social-emotional development.
Promoting language arts and literacy skills is an important part of BCD’s preschool program. We believe in the importance of exposing children to upper and lowercase letters, letter-sound relationships, and phonemic awareness. Beginning reading and writing skills are fostered as teachers actively engage in building children’s conceptual understanding of the printed word in relation to spoken language.
In addition, BCD’s preschool program promotes children’s beginning understanding of mathematics, numeric and science concepts. Children engage in math and science daily - using age appropriate and hands-on, experiential learning activities that connect to and support their everyday world and experiences. Furthermore, preschool children attend a special science class in our science lab every other week.
Social studies is highlighted as children discover the world in which we live in connection with their families, neighborhoods and communities. Respect for people and the world are daily focal points and problem solving, character education, and conflict resolution skills are intentionally fostered.
In addition to our strong academics, Boulder Country Day’s preschool program incorporates a “Specials” curriculum that includes instruction in world language (French and Spanish), movement, music, and library. Our specials curriculum helps to ensure that every preschool child begins to discover their excellence.
We believe that it is a privilege to educate your child and that your child will have the opportunity to discover their own excellence at Boulder Country Day.
World Language instruction at Boulder Country Day School starts with students as young as 2 1/2-years old in our preschool. Research analyzed by the education support organization, Ertheo, shows that a major benefit of teaching world language to very young students is an increased ability to connect to other cultures and build tolerance (https://www.ertheo.com/blog/en/learning-a-second-language#connect). Both objectives strongly support BCD’s mission. When working with very young students, the focus is on providing exposure to the new language and instilling a curiosity for cultures around the world. Come Kindergarten, instruction begins to include lots of sensory lessons, allowing the children to explore their world and the new language with their sense of smell and taste.
It has been said that a toy is a toy, but a box has a million possibilities. The best preschools under understand this concept and utilize it thoughtfully when developing their dramatic play areas.
Dramatic play areas are designed to allow children to experiment with familiar and fantasy every day. But children can't role play what they don't know or can't imagine. Therefore, providing a role play space that allows them to revisit what they know, that follows their interests and extends their imaginations should be the core elements when designing these powerful learning opportunities.
Traditional role play is very adult directed and over-themed. Not many early years children actually have the tools or experience to access the play on their own and end up requiring an adult to facilitate. But if you give children an space that is open-ended with no specific theme, the play will be directed by the children. This form of role play might not look as cute as an adult directed area, but if you look closely, the level of imagination and language that results is what is most powerful. Elanna S. Yalow, Ph.D. states in her article, Discover the Many Benefits of Dramatic Play, that among the many benefits of self-directed role play is that "children are motivated to convey their wishes to others and speak from the perspective of their pretend roles. In fact, it is often through dramatic play that shy or withdrawn children first begin to express themselves through language."
The open-ended role play area in my classroom has intentional enhancement trays. Each tray or bin contains goodies linked to particular interests, items that allow the children to take the play where they want it to go. Currently in our area we have a bin of laundry supplies, cooking items, vet/doctor tools, a keyboard, phones, mirrors, baby supplies, a tool kit, to name a few.
In one session of play, I have been able to observe the same group of children move from grooming their pet, to packing their bags for vacation, to turning the table and chairs into a car, to taking a road trip to Nantucket, to embarking on a submarine adventure. I’ve watched children use mirrors as a movie screen, a rolled-up placemat for a telescope, a notebook as a cell phone, and gems as pet food one moment and currency the next. None of this could happen in an adult prescribed space. It's been fun to watch where the children take their play and how just switching out some enhancements can bring a whole new level of engagement, imagination....and learning!
Over the past couple of weeks we've been having fun exploring our new Kodo materials in preschool. These materials offer young children the opportunity to freely explore the complex concepts of STEM through open ended play.
Open ended activities are crucial in the early years setting because they prioritize play and creativity. They provide the perfect opportunity for engaging children's imaginations as well as enhancing their social and emotional intelligence. Open-ended learning allows children to express their creativity freely. There are no instructions or rules for children to follow. Unlike closed-ended games and activities, there is no “right” answer or “right” way to complete and finish the project. During open-ended play, children have the ability to make their own decisions and fully engage their creativity and imagination.
We want our young children to grow up and be able to solve problems on their own, to be able to make decisions confidently and to navigate those decisions successfully. Open ended learning offers them the opportunity to try this out, to practice leadership and decision-making skills, to develop an openness to trying new things, and to experience failing forward.
Whilst exploring with these materials we observed the children testing out ideas, problem solving, communicating and collaborating with each other. From looking at these photos you can almost hear the lively discussions and the excitement of finally achieving success. I see some future leaders, scientists and engineers in our preschool without a doubt!
Winter is here in full-force and the zippers, laces, buckles, sleeves, snow pant straps, and finger sections in gloves create a unique type of snow-clothes-storm in our hallway. They also provide copious opportunities for teaching, reteaching and practicing self-help skills. I often joke that we’ll spend 45 minutes getting ready for 15 minutes in the snow… But, really, it’s the truth. And, in some cases, classes will repeat this process for a second or even third recess. That’s a lot time spent on clothing navigation…
BCD’s Kindergarten program stands apart in its breadth of offerings and student support. Students are known and nurtured everyday by a faculty of many including their classroom teachers, their teachers in world language, science, innovation, music, art, physical education, and library, as well as, school counselors, literacy specialists from the BCD Learning Center, the Head of Elementary, and our Head of School. At BCD, every member of our faculty seen in this picture will be involved in the education of your student. Contact us to schedule a tour at (303) 516-4148.
Progress reports are part of our ongoing commitment to communicating how children are working towards goals and objectives across the different domains of learning and development. Assessment, as scary as it may sound, is a critical component of intentional teaching and the foundation of best practices today. Ann Epstein, in her book The Intentional Teacher, states that “best practice requires us [teachers] to think about what we are doing in the classroom and how it will foster children’s development and produce real and lasting learning.” It is part of the WHAT behind WHY we do what we do and the core of intentional teaching.
I believe assessment it is the secret sauce to any successful school experience.
Simply put, assessment is a tool for monitoring children’s progress towards curriculum goals. At its core, it supports teachers in the process of getting to know each individual child as a human being that is full of potential. Using this knowledge, we are able to develop an understanding of each child’s strengths, challenges and opportunities for growth.
When monitoring preschool student progress, there is no formal testing. We promise! Preschool assessments, when done right, come in the form of daily observation along with annotated records – written, objective documentation of what we see using our understanding of child development as our lens. Using observation along with annotation has the following advantages as defined in the book, Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum:
It is nonintrusive for the child.
It yields instant, credible information that has on-the-spot utility for improving interaction and instructional strategies.
It has important value for formulating hypotheses or speculation to evaluate.
It can be used in virtually any setting.
It allows the teacher to capture, in a natural setting, important data that could not be obtained by other methods.
Research has shown that tracking children’s growth and development in preschool is important to support later academic learning and life-long success and at BCD, we believe that sharing assessment information is an essential ingredient to building collaborative and reciprocal relationships with parents. We strive to communicate everything that we are doing to support your child’s growth and development in all areas of our curriculum. We communicate with this information through daily communication at drop-off and pick-up times, in teacher newsletters, personal emails, parent and teacher conferences, and sometimes in personalized meetings during which we discuss specific concerns regarding a child’s development. We hope that when reading your child’s progress report that you will feel the time, energy, love, and care that we have for your child. We want to ensure that our reports are easy for families to read and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Finally, remember that your child’s trimester progress report is one small aspect of how we communicate what’s happening at school. Our ultimate goal is to nurture your child’s sense of confidence and competence - that sense of “I am. And, I can.” that will hopefully propel your child through life. We are excited to work in partnership with you. Thank you for choosing BCD!
"No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” Mark Twain’s quote is wise. It is also some of the best advice out there for parents and teachers. Just stop for a moment and think about it…
I recently listened to an NPR program in which they interviewed Steve Burns, the legendary host of the television show, Blue’s Clues. During the program they dissected the pace of show and the show’s use of well-timed pauses that, according to Variety Magazine, were "long enough to give the youngest time to think, short enough for the oldest not to get bored." The concept of Blue’s Clues was brilliant! It engaged children in creative and meaningful ways and the shows use of wait-time after asking a question gave children enough time to process the information and solve the problem in the show. To watch a short video clip of Steve Burns using this strategy, click here.
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing many parents coming and going from their parent and teacher conferences and heard many comment on the depth in which our teachers knew their child: their strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth.
Winter is here in full-force. Perhaps not -72 polar-vortex force… However, zippers, laces, buckles, sleeves, snow pant straps, and finger sections in gloves provide their own kind of vortex. They also provide copious opportunities for teaching, reteaching and practicing self-help skills. I often joke that we’ll spend 45 minutes getting ready for 15 minutes in the snow… But, really, it’s the truth. And, in some cases, classes will repeat this process for a second or even third recess. That’s a lot time spent on clothing navigation…
Emma Kertesz, an assistant teacher in our preschool program who teaches with Gemma Fagan, ran California International Marathon. Emma finished in 2:44:22. This is an average pace of 6:14/minute… for 26.2 miles! Emma’s accomplishment got me thinking about the importance learning “stick-to-itiveness.”
Each week I have the privilege of cooking with the children. This is always a highlight of my day and I’ve built it into my schedule. I see the preschool classes on most Mondays and the prekindergarten classes on a rotating Friday schedule. Cooking in the classroom truly is a recipe for intentional teaching and playful learning.
Of all the skills we encourage our children to develop, social intelligence may be the most essential for predicting a fulfilling, successful life. Social intelligence is the ability to effectively negotiate interpersonal interactions and complex social environments. It involves effective communication skills, the ability to read non-verbal cues into how other people are feeling and virtues such as empathy and consideration.
Children learn appropriate behaviors by emulating adults. The easiest way to help your child learn qualities such as patience, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and gentleness is to model these qualities in your day-to-day interactions with other people and with your children.
Preschoolers are social creatures, generally very interested in other and quick to notice and adopt social norms. They're becoming more able to control themselves, and more able to verbalize their feelings, opening up a host of options beyond for communicating and problem solving. The preschool years are a perfect opportunity to teach social habits and skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. If you would like to read a fascinating article that was recently in the New York Times about how work places are really just like preschool, click here.
It is completely natural for preschoolers to experience conflicts. Children this age usually want to have things go their way and yet have other children to play with. The ability to negotiate and compromise is honed through the conflicts that arise between toddlers. Be close by but do not intervene in a conflict until you feel that you absolutely need to. Even when you do intervene, make sure that instead of simply telling everyone what they should do, you help them empathize with each other and understand why they should behave in a particular way.
Some ways you can support the development of social intelligence in your child include:
Support their friendships. Honor and reinforce your child's developing friendships. Talk about them, remember them, create opportunities to play. Remember that children get aggravated with each other, just as adults do. It doesn't mean the end of a friendship, necessarily, just that they need help to work through the issues that come up.
Model respectful relating. Remember that your child will treat others as you treat her. Show your child respect, be tactful in the ways you talk to your child about how they are treating others, and help them work out difficulties when they play together.
Teach your child that people are important. Teach your child consideration for others. Model it for him early on, praise it, help him brainstorm to solve peer problems, and don't let your child intentionally or unintentionally disrespect another person.
Teach kids to express their needs and wants without attacking the other person. For instance:
"I don't like it when you push in front of me like that" instead of "You're mean!"
"I need a turn, too!" instead of "You're not letting me have the ball."
Help your child learn how to repair rifts in relationships. When we think about repairing relationships, we usually focus on apologizing. Giving children a chance to cool down first always works better and then ask them 'How can you fix it?'. Be sure to model apologies to your children and scaffold this process for them.
Remember, that teaching and modeling social skills is a process that takes time and patience. Stick to it - we promise you will see the results.
Recently we participated in a process that is commonly known as the Plan-Do-Review cycle. The High/Scope educational approach revolves around children choosing their activities and making their plan, participating in that activity before moving on to another one - the doing component - and then reviewing and evaluating their work or experience. The point of the review is to assess whether or not the child successfully followed through with their plan. Sometimes there is an end product, but a plan can be as simple as going to the block area to make a specific structure.
“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents”, Jane Hull
At BCD we strive to create an environment that is welcoming to all our families. In any grade, we love to invite people into our rooms to share their passions, their skills, their knowledge, and their culture. These visits are so much fun and ultimately help us create a better understanding of who we are as a community, recognizing and celebrating the cultural and linguistic diversity of our school.
During the school day, we often discuss how independent the children can be, whether changing their own water while they paint, clearing the table after lunch, setting up their own art projects, or simply putting on their snow gear.
Every few weeks we change the theme of the dramatic play area…we may or may not also change the layout of the classroom because of it. When I was in preschool (yes, I still remember it) the dramatic play space was an area that resembled a play kitchen, had some dress up clothes, and a few fancy hats. I remember having fun in that area, but it never changed. When my younger sister entered that classroom, it was still the same kitchen, with the same dress up clothes, and a bunch of hats that used to be fancy. Our classroom will most likely have 8 to 10 different themes this year, please feel free to help with an area if you are so inclined. We have already had a baby care center and a sandwich shop. Ideas that we have used in the past include an art studio, grocery store, bakery, juice, bar, farmers market, spaceship, campsite, entomology lab, submarine, and a flower shop.
Regardless of the props, the underlying beauty of a dramatic play area is still the same: It is a safe place for children to experiment with the social and emotional roles of everyday life; And,it is a place where children can be creative and use their imaginations, not confined by the structure of a teacher initiated idea or activity. The children are learning to interact with their peers and the world around them, pulling knowledge from things they have personally experienced, things they have seen in books or on TV, and conversations they have had or merely just overheard. There is often “drama,” heated phone calls, and sometimes a life or death situation…but in the end, there is always a happy ending!