We are a Reggio Emilia Inspired, Play Based, Developmental Preschool. Simply said, we believe that building critical thinking skills is more important than feeding children information. Our emergent curriculum is a process where teachers plan activities and projects based on the specific group of children they are working with, taking into account their skills, needs, and interests. It is rooted in the work of noted early childhood theorists like Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky. We embrace Process Art and use the Preschool Learning Foundations published by the California Dept. of Ed. in ongoing assessment to ensure that all children are prepared for the transition to elementary school. We believe that each child is unique and deserves respect, consistency, caring and challenge as they grow.
Integrated Curriculum (IC) or “layered learning” allows children to pursue learning in a holistic way, without the erroneous restrictions imposed by subject boundaries. A good illustration is learning a song. The first layer is rhythm (math), then the melody (music), then the lyrics (language), then percussion (physical development). A large body of research supports that IC is the most natural way for children under 5 to learn.
Our curriculum is emergent, topics of study are defined by the children's & teacher's interests. Teachers may set up provocations or invitations to play at classroom learning centers or plan short or long term projects around the children's interests. Children are engaged in learning when it involves their passions!
Atelier (Art Studio)
The arts are extremely important at Foothills Preschool. So important in fact, that we have a dedicated outdoor art studio (atelier) and a dedicated art teacher (atelierista). We focus on Process Art our school, which is characterized by being open-ended, experiential, unstructured, self-motivated, creative, and unique. It focuses on the process, or the doing, rather than the outcome (or product). Through Process Art, our children learn fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, co-operation, critical thinking skills, problem solving, chemistry, physics, inventing, story telling and so much more.
Our huge outdoor classroom is designed to engage and develop children's gross motor skills, love of nature and social/emotional health. Features of our outdoor classroom include our garden, water sensory table, materials sensory table, art, mud kitchen, bike path, basketball hoop, play equipment and a huge sand box with all the needed tools! Each class spends about an hour of the core time (9am - 12pm) outdoors.
Foothills Preschool has been chosen as a teaching & observation site by the California Early Childhood Mentor program for college students in the final stages of their degree completion. This distinction is held by only a handful of schools in Orange County.