Early Childhood at Breakwater
The Breakwater School Early Childhood Division provides a developmentally responsive program that serves young children through play based, emergent curriculum rooted in a celebration of the natural world. Inspired by the best practices of Reggio Emilia and Montessori education, and grounded in intentional, integrated and researched based teaching, this is the "Breakwater Way" for our youngest friends. We are a community of children, parents, and teachers who are partners in a journey of learning. We value parents as a child’s first teachers, and we welcome their ongoing involvement in the classroom.
Toddler Program Snapshot
Age range: 18 - 36 months
Maximum class size: 9
Teacher/student ratio: 1:5
3 or 5 full days (8am-3pm)
5 half days (8am-12pm)
Aftercare options (3-5:30pm)
Throughout Breakwater we affirm the integrity of childhood by placing high value on play. In early childhood, it is the cornerstone of our approach to learning.
Research has shown that young children learn new skills and process experiences best during play, and that play based curriculum provides the most optimal outcomes for growth and development. Through play, children actively pose problems, explore solutions, and develop understandings of real world concepts. By comparing and contrasting information gained from new experiences to what they already know, children actively construct knowledge about the way the world works. Play provides meaningful opportunities to experience success on a child's own terms, supports a greater sense of autonomy, and builds lasting self-confidence.
The role of the teacher in play based education is not passive. Through diligent observation, planning and the use of strategies to enhance children’s play experiences, teachers integrate specific learning goals and objectives for the group and for individuals, and capitalize on emerging interests to create learning opportunities.
Sometimes we hear, “But all they do in early childhood is play!” and to that we respond - YES! and how good and valuable it is. For resources and research on play based education visit NAEYC, and come visit us!
The Natural World
At Breakwater, we go outside. A lot. And we bring the outside indoors. Our early childhood teachers facilitate connection with the natural world everyday, providing children rich opportunity to listen, look, question, feel, guess, discuss, and love the things they find all around them. Exploring nature through play, particularly outdoors, provides endless opportunity for growing and learning in a boundless environment- the child immersed in a multitude of sensory and awe inspiring experiences.
Children need access to nature the same way they need good nutrition and adequate sleep. It is fundamental to their growth and wellbeing. Nature play at Breakwater follows this intrinsic pathway to developing imaginative and creative thinking abilities, empathy, independence, acceptance of diversity, self-regulation, mindfulness, physical stamina and locomotor practice, improved receptive and expressive language, healthy risk taking, and collaboration skills by providing both unstructured and intentional nature based learning experiences. Everyday.
While the toddler, preschool and kindergarten classrooms are staffed by different teachers, and each serve children of differing ages, the Breakwater School Early Childhood Division as a unified program. The teaching approach of every staff member is informed by our shared philosophy and Breakwater’s core beliefs. Teachers meet and work together as a team to best serve our community. As children move from our toddler room to the preschool to kindergarten, they can expect to have similar relationships with teachers, experience common and familiar language, have the same rich exposure to materials for exploration and expression, and receive the same individualized attention to their needs.
This continuity of experience is perpetual throughout Breakwater’s toddler - 8th grade programming.