Power of Play in Early Childhood
TThe Lake School was founded on the premise that children are capable and curious beings. We believe that, if given freedom within a structured and enriching environment, young children will gain skills, self-confidence, and social awareness. We are grounded in the philosophy that play is a natural and necessary part of childhood, and we are committed to a child’s fundamental need and right to play, seek joy, and experience freedom while receiving guidance and nurturing from loving, caring adults.
The Lake School also believes in a slow and gradual start to structured education for little ones, offering a 3-4 hour program two days a week for two-year-olds and three days a week for three-year-olds. As students move to the 4-year-old and TK class, students are offered a full five-day week and the opportunity to extend their days for up to six hours.
The Lake School places a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning and community, offering our students their first chance to experience caring for others through our vibrant pet program.
Play Based Learning
Play based learning can be interpreted in many different ways.
Here at The Lake School, play-based means that learning opportunities are offered as natural extensions of the children’s interests, and curriculum is built upon their play. Children are introduced to all the necessary developmental concepts and skills playfully and with the opportunity to explore, experiment, and try things out on their own. Students are given long periods of free play time both indoors and outside, to follow their interests and make their own choices. Most importantly, the learning experience is fun and exciting, to promote a lifelong love of school, learning, and curiosity.
Our skilled play-based teachers observe the children and move between several different roles. They are leaders introducing concepts and activities at circle and meal times; playmates, helping to scaffold skills individually and among groups; stage setters, creating and clearing the space to enable the free flow of play; instigators, introducing knots or questions in the play to promote problem-solving or deeper levels of thought; and nurturers, soothing wounds and hurt feelings when mistakes are made.
In this setting, mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn and each child's unique path to learning is respected and supported, allowing for touch, movement, listening, observing and endless opportunities for self-expression throughout the day.
Approach to Discipline
The Lake School and its teachers are committed to positive discipline, meaning that our students will be given the guidance and opportunity to move forward from mistakes in a positive way. Though natural consequences sometimes arise, students are not punished, nor are they separated from others except when safety is an issue; even then, a caring teacher will be close by.
When undesirable behavior presents, our teachers first use tactics of redirection toward a more positive choice. If multiple parties are involved, teachers guide children to use feelings and needs language; students are prompted to hear and be heard, before making a plan to get everyone’s needs met. Since young children don’t have a connection to the words “I’m sorry”, they are instead given the opportunities for either a ‘do-over’, an action to help their friends feel better, or to co-create a plan for what will work better next time.