At Hollingworth Preschool we approach learning through an interdisciplinary lens, seeking to foster and support students' connections with the world. From their earliest days in the classroom, the children are actively involved in creating the questions that deeply influence our units of study. The teachers use reflective listening to support children's interests and explorations.
Inspired by John Dewey, we respect each child’s ability to effectively explore and define the world through experience. Through acknowledging, encouraging and scaffolding students’ spontaneous connections between their lives, the world and other texts, the paths of our studies seek to foster students’ fruitful explorations into inquiry based learning.
As a community of learners, we value different points of view, divergent thinking, ambiguity and enthusiasm for discovery. Our studies always end with wonderful unanswered questions, as we recognize that educational pursuits are lifelong endeavors.
Play is the work of children; it is an essential part of the Hollingworth Preschool day.
The rich classroom environment - complete with a block area, a listening loft, a pretend area, a library, an art area, painting easels, small manipulatives, puzzles, and games - invites the children to engage in dramatic and constructive play, pursue areas of interest, explore new ideas, and engage in independent and collaborative problem-solving. Play takes many forms in the classroom--from sensory play with homemade playdough or slime, to block play in the block area, at the tables, or in the courtyard with our large everlast outdoor blocks, or imaginative play that weaves throughout the rich worlds of children’s play.
Fostering a deep love of literature is at the core of the Hollingworth approach.
We use a variety of texts to build on children’s existing language, expression, and ways of knowing. Focusing on a blend of fiction and non-fiction, studies of various genres, authors and illustrators, we use literature to provide opportunities for children to travel through the real and imaginary, to support our communal explorations and inquiries, and explore their worlds.
Foundational skills are woven throughout every facet of our school day providing children a web of connections and a deeper understanding of the vitality in the basics of education
While inquiry shapes the focus of our studies, we recognize there are vital skills that support children’s early learning experiences, and are needed for success in school and life-long learning. Throughout the school day, children are encouraged to explore early mathematical, linguistic, scientific, and historical literacies.
Facets of our Community Building are woven throughout the school year and include: My Favorite Things; Self-portraits; Family Portraits & Storytelling; Green Market Explorations, Cookie Day & Appreciation Posies-Thankfulness Projects, Thanksgatherings, and more!
Building Community is a central facet of both of our classes. As our 3-4 Class addresses the question, “What is school?” and “What is school like here at Hollingworth?” we are also learning about our community members and their loved ones. While we establish our classroom language of “Helpful or Harmful”, we focus on the choices we make as individuals, their influences on others within our community, and the importance of context with each decision. We support the children in negotiating their individual needs and interests balanced with the community, as we work to teach children the tools that foster strong social-emotional foundations, such as encouraging empathy through conflict resolution and special curricular projects, supporting confidence and comfort with the self, and self-advocacy through encouraging young children’s clarity in communicating with others.
When the 4-5 Class children return for a second year together, we explore the many cycles and patterns that exist in their lives and in nature. As the children gain confidence and independence, their connections to the community and the world around them also grow stronger, developing an innate sense of care and responsibility. The teachers build upon these connections by introducing the concepts of conservation and sustainability, positioning the children as problem solvers and change makers. Through this work together, the children slowly learn to appreciate each others’ ideas, developing team work, patience, tolerance, and humility.
Technology is a powerful resource as well as a practical everyday tool. As such, it is integrated into the classroom with thought and care as a 21st century skill.
Just as we become accustomed–through guided activities and unstructured play–to holding a pencil or using a pair of scissors, we also become familiar with digital devices and the possibilities they present. As in everything we do, intentionality is key.Our specific use of technology is connected to the children’s inquiries and life experiences, and we are mindful to maintain a balance between our time spent with and without screens.
Technology enables us to journey on whale watches, learning from marine biologists using the SharpBoard as we gather around the green rug. As children draw portraits, using an iPad, we’ll often pull up a photograph of the person they are illustrating to serve as a model and inspiration. The SharpBoard is also often–though not always–used during group discussions as a note-taking tool. As we record what we know and wonder about a subject, we will often refer back to past recordings to see what we’ve learned and make meaningful connections.
Letters, numbers, and other symbol systems play an important role in thinking and learning. From letters, to classroom signage, or to sign language, the children are immersed in exploring how we use symbol systems to communicate, create, and collaborate.
Every day, we offer opportunities for the children to explore these concepts at the preschool. Our songs for roll call help us learn to recognize the letters in each child’s name. Classroom signs all include words, numbers, and American Sign Language. Often we play with letters and numbers in our conversations and use of materials, such as asking our children if they want clean up in “2+3 or 3+3 minutes?” We believe children learn best when they experience, explore and apply their understandings, while taking ownership of their individual learning experiences.
Our leadership team designs a scope and sequence for each school year, selecting engaging topics that provide opportunities for deep inquiry and multiple avenues of exploration. The same study topic explored by two classes may share similar foundations but will be shaped by each group of children's communal interests and inquiries. No two studies are alike as they are in response to the children–their experiences, knowledge, wonderings, and their passions.
Our studies are interdisciplinary in nature and design, and they always begin with wonderings. What do we know about this topic? What do we wonder about it? The questions that inspire our explorations often begin within one of four foundational lenses. However, as our collective inquiry grows, our studies intentionally evolve and expand to include many disciplinary approaches, demonstrating the interconnected nature of learning.