Developmental Areas for Preschoolers

Following are some specific areas of your child’s development, and ways in which they are supported in the classroom environment.


The child’s world is essentially an imaginative one; he or she needs the opportunity to play out inner fantasies and feelings with other children. This is encouraged through role-playing, block building, water play, music, movements, and stories. We encourage–in these and many other activities– respect for each child’s self-esteem and feelings.


The child learns about the world through the use of his/her senses. In order to develop a keenness of sense, the indoor and outdoor classroom environment provides activities to extend the use and awareness of touch, smell, feeling, seeing, and listening. Cooking projects, canyon walks, water play, art media, collage works, play-dough and sandbox play are some of these activities.


One of the most important goals throughout the school year is to give each child a positive sense of self-worth. Each class starts out the school year with the “ME” theme, addressing the questions “who am I, and who are the members of my family.”

We allow room for growth by waiting to help a child until after he or she has first tried and then asks for help. To show that we have confidence in the child, we give choices within limits and respect a child’s choices. When discipline is necessary, the child is supported and positive redirection is given. Self-esteem is never ignored–it is the action we dislike, not the child that does the action.


Socialization is the process of learning to cope in a group situation–with teachers, other adults, and peers. Children learn to socialize through role-playing, sharing, trading, listening, arguing, talking to each other, comparing ideas and ALL group activities. Some ways children socialize are:

• On-looker – Observing, talking; but not participating

• Solitary – Play nearby but without reference to other children

• Parallel – Play of a companionable nature with similar materials but without personal interaction.

• Associative – Play that is loosely organized around a common activity, shared interests, and materials.

• Cooperative – Play with different roles, common goals, usually with one or two leaders, of relatively long duration and complexity.

• Participating in Games with Rules – Young children are just in the beginning stages of being able to participate in games. By the time they reach 4 ½ – 5, they will have a true understanding of games and rules, and are able to enjoy them more fully.


One of our goals is for the children to communicate and to appreciate the beauty of language. Children develop this through listening to stories, making up stories to be written down, songs, (they love rhyming and silly songs), dramatic play, puppetry, cooking and the use of picture recipes, and art descriptions. Every activity can be a basis for verbal expression.


The “me-do-it” stage of the preschool child marks the point where whole-body mobility has been attained along with a determination to use it to the fullest. Because of this, we provide appropriate physical equipment and materials to challenge the children. A safe environment is a must, so the curriculum reflects these needs. Open areas for running, jumping, climbing, rolling, crawling, sliding, and swinging are also important. Small muscle and eye-hand coordination is encouraged in every
area of our curriculum. Characteristics of spontaneous play are as follows:

1. Primary gross motor

• Body movements: walking, running, parades, hikes, skipping, sliding

• Climbing: through, over, under, around, beside, after, etc.

• Wheel toys: tricycles, skates, big wheels, pushing and pulling wagons, shopping carts, etc.

2. Combined gross and fine motor

• Gathering or collecting materials

• Filling containers (with play-dough, sand, water, etc.)

• Dumping (emptying these containers)

• Stacking

• Knocking down

• Painting

3. Primary Fine Motor

• Trial-and-error manipulation (puzzles, stringing beads, Legos, Tinker toys, etc.)

• Sensory explorations (through nature, art media, the five senses)

Our programs show concern for all aspects of a child’s development: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical. Our program reflects the fact that all are interrelated and cannot stand-alone. Above all, we value learning through play in an environment that allows choices. Choice encourages the child’s natural curiosity, a sense of independence, and positive self-esteem