The environment at the school is created to be beautiful, healthful, and to be conducive to learning. The emphasis on light and spaciousness, the beautiful rugs and fresh flowers, real plants, and the orderly, inviting classrooms are created to reinforce the childís natural love for beauty. Youíll notice that we donít use glaring primary colors to create an artificial sense of cheerfulness. Full-spectrum fluorescent lighting not only reduces fatigue, but also (1) increases calcium absorption for growing bones and teeth and (2) decreases staph and strep infections in our group environment. Piped music is specially programmed to induce serenity and to facilitate math and reading skills. Our air conditioning systems have a high outside-air exchange rate so that we are not recycling stale air for our children.
The playground is an integral part of our childrenís experience. In fact, play is what children do to learn about their worlds and to construct their own worlds. They need physical challenge from a playground: the opportunity to literally reach new heights and to run free. They need the stimulus of risk; they need choices in climbing, sliding, and swinging so they can determine the excitement and challenge they are ready for. Climbing structures allow a challenge just past where the child is comfortable with which to build self esteem. Equally important are break away points for those who change their minds or need more time to act Ė alternate routes up and down, graduated challenge, and a range of opportunities to build self esteem without pressure.
The other advantage of playground time is the opportunity to be out of the air conditioning and the things that people control into a world of varying temperatures, humidity, creatures, and light. Our children need to learn how to adapt to lots of conditions, and more than to adapt, to enjoy. Learning is not something to be poured into children and repeated back in practice. It is an active, intellectual, and hands-on process. Our children need to learn that there are very few, if any, right ways to do things, but that there are lots of ways that work. On the playground, they get a chance to try some of those ways in a noisy, sometimes push and shove way. At Greystone House, we consciously choose to have our children on the playground at least four hours out of the twelve that the school is open each day. If rain is not actually falling from the sky, we are outside that day.
The childís competence is the first goal of Greystone House. Every child is born with a pattern for greatness. Our role as a preschool is to enable that power by creating an environment that does not hinder the child. When we follow the child and support his drive to be the best he can be, our whole society will become better.
The child grows best in an environment of peace and serenity, confident that he knows what to expect and what is expected of him. This confidence is based on a consistent routine of coming every day to a teacher heís known for years with friends who have been with him for an equally long time. This routine encourages every child from the youngest infant to our graduating kindergartners. The peace of knowing that he will come to competence in his own time and in his own way enables him to put all his energy toward accomplishment and growth, not needing to divert an iota of energy to worry or protection of himself.
In this environment of competence and peace, a beauty appears. Itís the beauty of simplicity and naturalness, lacking artifice.
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