The Preschool at Country Day
Since 1987, The Preschool at Country Day has been Huntsville’s #1 preschool program and provides a play-based, interdisciplinary curriculum to develop the whole child in art, science, language, literacy, emotional growth, math and movement.
We also offer enriched exposure to Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, music and global cultures which are important additions to the program. The academic programs are child-focused and include methods from Montessori and the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
The knowledgeable and caring teachers of Country Day have more than 50 years combined experience in Early Childhood and Nature-Based Education. The Preschool at Country Day is the only Forest Preschool and Reggio inspired Preschool in Huntsville.
The Preschool offers a variety of programs for 2 1/2 to 4 year olds. Full Day, School Day and Half Day options offer parents the best of both worlds by providing an outstanding and unique private preschool along with quality, professional child-care. The learning environment is bright, open and safe
Nature Based Education-Learning Beyond The Classroom
Our campus has 21 park like acres of forest, meadows, and creeks to explore. Our youngest students spend a lot of time outdoors. They enjoy hiking the paths and walking in the creek while observing abundant wild life. Our family of deer are frequent visitors and our gardens grow fresh produce to taste and care for.
Research has shown that young children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted by nature. We are committed to giving all our students the gift of communing with nature.
Our philosophy is to be carried out by emphasizing the child’s abilities, competences, and natural aptitude, developing and fostering the child in ways that encourage the development of new and inherent talents. These qualities will in turn allow the child to embark on and prosper in life with confidence and skill, especially in his or her future educational endeavors. In addition, learning will take place through positive relationships and caring adults.
We believe that all children have a right to high quality education. At the core of this concept is the child’s natural curiosity of their world coupled with a respect for the countless qualities and values that we believe each child is born with. Along with the support of parents, teachers, and the community, children will build their learning and development with determination and enthusiasm while learning how to discover knowledge and improve their communication skills as they plan and make decisions in small groups. They will become prepared to successfully excel in their lives as well as in their elementary, middle, high school, and university education, on which their future success will so greatly depend.
The Reggio Emilia Approach derives its name from its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Shortly after the Second World War, the parents of this region collaborated with Loris Malaguzzi, a lifelong educator, innovator and creative philosopher to find a unique public system of childcare education. Loris Malaguzzi and the parents of Reggio Emilia Italy were devastated by the destruction that took place during World War II and believed that the approach to education had to fundamentally change. Based on principles of respect, responsibility and community, a philosophy was born.
In the Reggio Emilia Approach, there is a coined expression, “A child has a hundred languages.” The approach unites and develops all languages-innovation, nature, construction, fantasy, art, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science, body, and soul. The multiple languages are used to help children build knowledge and understand the world around them.
Reggio Emilia Approach
The following key principles are inspirations from Reggio Emilia, which we adapt to our own community and culture at The Preschool at Country Day.
Image of the Child
We believe in children’s strengths and capabilities. Our goal is to empower children to explore the world, create meaning, and challenge their own thinking. Over time, children apply their knowledge confidently and successfully to new situations, which results in feelings of pride and self-worth.
The Role of the Teacher
Teachers are facilitators who guide children’s thinking, document their ideas, and support them in their learning. They provoke skill development, deep thinking, and positive social interaction.
The Power of Documentation
Documentation provides a visual record of the dynamic learning encounters that take place the classroom. With this data, we can interpret children’s interests, feelings, and ideas and give value to their work. Documentation is a form of assessment and advocacy for each individual child.
The Role of the Environment
The classroom environment reflects the values, beliefs and cultures of those who share it. Each area of the room and the materials housed there has a specific purpose. The design, color, and natural light are backdrops to feature the children’s work as the main attraction of the classroom setting.
The Role of Parents
We recognize that each family brings a unique perspective to the classroom and welcome parents’ active participation in our program.
Within our Preschool, children’s interests and discoveries propel our curriculum. Our goal is to challenge children to generate their own ideas and theories, posing thought-provoking, open-ended questions. In keeping with our school philosophy, teachers integrate and encourage in-depth thinking.
Creative Project Learning/A Call To Explore….
Projects take the child further than the usual imaginative spontaneous play and typical classroom instruction and beyond the confines and limits of the classrooms. A project is a journey in learning driven by the child’s natural curiosity and quest for making sense of an experience; an in-depth study of an idea, topic, or event that groups of or individual children deem fascinating.
Project work is essential to expand and extend a child’s understanding of an experience by allowing the child to explore a concept while applying newly acquired skills and understandings. Projects revolve around children’s questions and theories, the research and discovery of information, and the conveying of newly found information and understandings to a broader audience. Projects are filled with problems to solve, hypotheses to be tested, charted or graphed; and discoveries to be communicated.
Projects may develop around topics of children’s interest and often come up spontaneously. Project work may extend over weeks or even months on an infinite number of topics. Some examples of projects include a study of construction while the new school facility was being built and a summer project of water and its properties, which was made possible by the creek located on campus. Projects may involve research skills, extensive field study, expert interviews, as well as delicate social negotiation. In all projects, planning and communication of activities and results extend the learning far beyond the specific topic. Documentation by teachers and children is an essential aspect of a project that ensures reflective, critical thinking.
Our program is accredited by AdvancED and is an integral part of our school through eighth grade program. Children who participate in our program go successfully into our primary school or into other schools in the area, both public and private. A number of our children move to other parts of the country or even the world. They traditionally do very well and are prepared to adapt to almost any environment.
Athens State and UAB both use The Country Day School as a lab school for graduate and undergraduate students studying Early Childhood Education.