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 the research-based IEYC 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.
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The most important thing is to be kind.
I AM A BULLDOG
- BCD Preschool student
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.
For parents of children who will head off to Kindergarten in August, stepping into elementary school feels like a symbolic part of “growing up.” And, the transition from Preschool to Kindergarten tends to come with a full handbag of emotions: we feel joyful, bittersweet, nostalgic, and perhaps conflicted. We want to keep a wing around our child and at the same time, help them to spread their wings. We may wonder what to expect and how we can best support our child – but not know what to do… The sense of uncertainty is common for many parents and with good reason; Kindergarten today often looks and feels very different than what we may have experienced. The disconnect in familiarity leaves us wondering what we can do to support our child as they make the leap from preschool to elementary school.
Let’s pause for a moment here and acknowledge the nature of education in today’s world. Education is complex and ever-changing. In fact, the role of Kindergarten has been evolving since its origin in 1840 as a “garden of children” – a place for learning to socialize, play, and share. The first 100 years of Kindergarten stayed fairly true to Froebel’s original vision. However, Sputnik changed that when the Soviet Union set in motion more than a space race. Sputnik also launched a shift in our approach to school and academic expectations. In the book K Today – Teaching and Learning in the Kindergarten Year, Elizabeth Graue creates a pointed comparison of Kindergarten views using Robert Fulghum’s warm and fuzzy notion of cookies, milk, and afternoon naps contrasted with Arnold Schwartzeneger’s demise as a undercover cop who – despite his huge muscles – crumbles under the grinding demands of being in a Kindergarten classroom.
Graue’s imagery captures the essence of the flux in Kindergarten education today. Caught between early learning experiences in a social sandbox and more rigorous elementary school academics, it’s no wonder that parents question how to support their child’s transition into Kindergarten. Below are a few tips to help guide the process:
1. Focus on building strong school – home partnerships.
Forming proactive partnerships that begin at the start of your child’s elementary school experience help to ensure that positive relationships and parent involvement continue throughout the elementary school years. Taking the time to build a home-school partnership also creates a trusted feedback loop within which parents and teachers can share information back and forth with each other often and as needed.
2. Build bridges to make transitions easier.
Look for a school that invests time and energy into building a strong bridge between a child’s preschool experience and transition to Kindergarten. Ideally, teachers should be in communication with each other as children move from preschool to Kindergarten. Strong bridges are often in place within schools that offer preschool on the same campus as their elementary programs. However, for children who will attend an elementary school that is not on the same campus as their preschool, bridges will need to be intentionally formed. Ask for permission to connect your child’s preschool teacher with their Kindergarten teacher.
3. Look for a “whole child” approach.
A developmental / ecological approach looks beyond what a child can “do” and instead takes a holistic view of a child’s development. Yes, information such as the number of letters a child can recognize or write are important. However, focusing on just the ABCs and 123s provides a limited view of a child. It is critical that teachers take into account a child’s social and emotional development as well as their academic skills. Ask any school what their social and emotional curriculum is, how teachers are trained, and what the program will look like for your child.
4. Choose a Kindergarten program that aligns with your child’s learning style, strengths, challenges, and needs and your personal leanings as a parent.
Factors such as the Kindergarten or school’s overarching philosophy / approach to education make a difference in your child’s Kindergarten success as well as how you will feel as a parent in the school. It is important that parents consider elements such as the school’s curriculum as well as your child’s learning style. Does your child thrive on academics or structure? Do they seem to come alive when engaged in experiential learning, arts, or STEM? Ask any school about the amount of seatwork that is expected, recess / movement breaks, and opportunities for hands-on learning.
As a final thought…
The preschool to Kindergarten transition is a critical moment in a child’s life and one that deserves intentional thought, care and support. Ensure that your child’s step into the elementary world is supported by proactive, collaborative, and communicative relationships from teacher to teacher, teacher to parent, and family to school connections. Look for a school that focuses on the importance of viewing each child through a holistic lens while joining you in celebrating your child for their strengths – and supporting your child’s challenges.
Children are our future. When parents and teachers work together to ensure that the transition to Kindergarten is proactive and thoughtful we create a pathway to school success. Let’s all do our part to help children step into elementary school with a sense of “I am and I can” that will propel them through their academic years.
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.
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…
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!
Reading with a pre-K class teaches us many things. For starters, it is a lesson in patience, for everyone. At this age, we are still learning the rules of listening and speaking, and listening to a story in a large group can look very different to listening to a story in the lap of your parents. We have to learn to “hold our thoughts in our head” until we reach the appropriate time to talk, and then we have to learn when that appropriate time to talk is. We are also learning the difference between a comment and a question, not an easy feat at this age.
I could tell you what we learn about the rules of print – how the letters and words flow from left to right, and how the pages all turn in the same direction. I could explain how we begin to comprehend the concepts of beginning, middle, end and understand the meaning of words like plot, characters, and setting. I could tell you that we are working on logical thinking, problem solving, picking up on visual cues, reading character’s expressions, understanding the nuances of conversation, and even listening for tone…but really, I just want to convey that we love books, and we love to read, and we get a great deal of our community spirit from this activity each day.
While we read we are building relationships, creating connections with each other, recognizing things we have in common, as well as things that we don’t. We learn about what different people have done, where they have been, what they have experienced, and what they would like to do in the future. During longer stories we use sign language for “me too” to show that we have a connection without disrupting the flow of the story. Sometimes I may ask the children directly if they identify with the character with a quick “put your finger on your nose if you have been to New York City too.” Sometimes we have to clarify the difference between fantasy and reality. :)
So, if you have a moment and would like to share a favorite story from your own childhood, come on in…any day…any time…and we will stop what we are doing and join together for a magical moment with you and your book!
Multisensory learning is learning that involves two or more of the senses within the same activity: auditory (through their ears), visual (through their eyes), tactile (through touch), kinesthetic (through body movements). Sensory experiences are sticky, slippery, gooey, heavy, bumpy etc. Children learn best by having hands on experiences with materials so sensory materials are vital to your children's learning. Through sensory tubs like those in our 'Witch's Kitchen' the children are manipulating materials and learning to understand concepts such as more/less, full/empty, cause and effect, liquids and solids. Sensory experiences are also exciting which leads to children utilizing their language skills to express themselves and because they are often open ended activities children are able to use their own creative thinking skills to decide how they wish to use the materials. Such activities set the children on a path of discovery, working with each others to investigate and observe.