Our School

Educational Practice

At Druid Hills Preschool we view the curriculum as all the experiences that children are engaged in throughout the day. Purposeful play is at the heart of these experiences and cultivates independent thinking, problem-solving skills, mental flexibility, and complex high-level thought. In our educational practice classroom teachers and resource educators work together to:

  • Make preparations that express core curriculum goals.
  • Make hypotheses about possible directions activities and projects might take.

Teachers facilitate children’s explorations of themes and work on short and long term research projects. Projects may start from a chance event, an idea or question posed by children, or an experience offered by teachers and educators. In this balance of child and teacher initiated activities the curriculum emerges and evolves.

The Reggio Approach is not a pre-set curriculum but a process of inviting and sustaining learning.~ Lella Gandini





Embedded within these research projects and play based activities are the foundations of “academic” preparations. Children and educators are actively engaged daily in brain-based, meaningful experiences in language, mathematics, science, art, music, and social interactions.


“This is a piece of bread with a face. It is chocolate bread.
It lives by itself.” Chocolate bread with a face was created by one of our many imaginative 3-year-olds.

To learn more:

Reggio Children
The Project Approach
Georgia Early Learning Standards
CNN News Report on Reggio Emilia.

Educators

Recognizing that teaching and learning are relationship based processes, each of our classrooms is staffed with two co-teachers who collaborate with one another and with resource educators to support children’s learning and development. Our teachers are carefully selected for their experience and education in early childhood as well as a commitment to the importance of purposeful play, a loving and caring approach to young children, and a passion for learning. To model and engage in learning all staff pursue ongoing professional development.

child and teacher

Resource educators collaborate with classroom teachers to offer a variety of rich and inspiring experiences that provoke new ideas and interests. Working with children in small groups, educators motivate learning through stories, art, music, movement, and messing about with science to expand children’s knowledge about the world around them.


Our Resource Educators Include


  • A studio educator with in-depth experience teaching art and a degree in art education.
  • A naturalist with a profound knowledge of animals, insects, and plants, as well as a dedication to providing opportunities for children to explore natural materials and experiences.
  • A music teacher with a love for music and the talent for sharing that love with young children.
  • Two specialists in movement and motor development creating provocations both indoors and out.


Classroom teachers and resource educators meet weekly to hypothesize, plan, prepare, and reflect. The role of all the educators is one of continual researcher and learner.


            “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Music & Movement

girl playing drum Music and movement are vital to children’s development and well-being. They are a language to which children are naturally attracted and take great joy in experiencing and creating. While music and movement are encountered in the daily classroom lives of children at Druid Hills Preschool, there are also resource educators who collaborate to enrich and deepen those encounters.

Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education. ~ Plato






Music Experiences

Music experiences include intentional encounters with rhythm and sound, instrumentation, song, and dance. The joy of music takes precedence in these experiences.

girls moving on the floor   

Tumbling

Tumbling extends children’s gross motor skill opportunities. The need to move in order to learn, to be big and rambunctious is honored throughout the day and especially during playground play, but this more structured tumbling time targets balance, coordination, and other kinesthetic experiences.


cartoon kids

Language Experience

cartoon kidsDruid Hills Preschool offers Language Experience classrooms in Italian or Spanish. The primary language learning strategy is based on the belief that language learning is an organic and natural process for children. Therefore the teachers communicate in the language as they go about building the daily life of the classroom. We will also include strategies such as: memorization of songs and interactive learning through stories and games utilizing pictures and other visual clues to guide each child in second language learning.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
~ Nelson Mandela






These classrooms continue to honor children’s curiosity and competence. The flow of the day, the materials, environment, and educational practice are rooted in the Reggio approach. In this language learning experience, we will continue to emphasize child-directed and play based learning. Teachers initiate encounters with other cultures and national traditions through food, celebrations, music, stories, and costumes.



Research shows these Key Benefits of Learning a Second Language in the Early Childhood Years:

  • Enhancement of critical thinking skills
  • Boost in vocabulary and self- esteem
  • Increased creativity
  • Enhancement of academic skills
  • Increased appreciation of other cultures
  • To learn more:

    Cognitive Benefits of Learning Language

    Inside Environment

    The learning environment is itself a teacher. The physical space welcomes children and adults, fosters encounters with learning materials, and encourages communication with each other. Our educators arrange, organize and plan a learning environment that is inviting, sensory rich, beautiful, unhurried and inspires learning.
    “We must provide for children those kinds of environments that elicit their interests and talents and that deepen their engagement in practice and thought.” ~ David Hawkins.







    Time and schedule are also components of the environment. A flexible flow of the day is established that gives children the security to explore and deepen their knowledge. Deliberate choices are made to slow down, to support uninterrupted play, and create continuity that connects experiences. An environment supportive of learning allows children to make choices, use a wide variety of materials, move around, work alone and in both small and large groups, engage all the senses, encounter new experiences as well as time to revisit experiences.

    A Reggio-inspired environment also reflects the people who inhabit it. Children who see their images, their words and their work displayed in the learning environment know for certain that they are valued as people and as learners.

    At Druid Hills Preschool the learning environment is not limited to the classrooms but includes shared spaces - the hallways, library, stairwells - where children not only encounter their work; but fish tanks, turtles, maps, images, recycling, and other provocations to encourage curiosity and conversation.

    An additional shared space is our two studios. Inspired by the ateliers of Reggio Emilia, these spaces are more than art studios, they are laboratories for thinking and investigating. These spaces offer a wide variety of tools, resources, and natural materials to generate inquiry and deepen research and experimentation.

    Outside Environment

    We value time outdoors and believe strongly in the benefits of nature for children’s health, creativity, and cognitive ability. Deliberate choices are made to create generous amounts of meaningful time outside.
    "Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play."
    ~ Henri Matisse






    Children may choose to take off in a joyous sprint or they may stop to investigate a bug on a blade of grass. The outside should offer freedom to run or to dally. Children learn with their whole bodies and a natural, sensory-rich outdoor playscape offers the freedom to get elbow deep in messy mud, to run our feet, to be loud or to listen to the birds and experiment with sound, to be free to explore the beautiful world around us.

    Our outdoor space is set-up daily by resource educators to offer and extend provocations in learning. Educators collaborate to observe, assess, and refine offerings in the outdoor space that will engage children’s interests, honor their investigations, and expand their knowledge.

    Our playground offers opportunities to climb, slide, spin, swing, and pretend with trucks, scoops, bowls, and other props that encourage children’s imaginations to range free. Beyond the playground, our outdoor environment has a space to ride, push and run with wheeled vehicles; a garden for edibles and flowers; a picnic area; a place to dig in the dirt; build; walk and balance on tree trunks; and explore sensory, science, and nature experiences in the outdoor classroom.


    house

    To learn more:

    The Benefits of Nature for Children
    Beyond Ecophobia

    Farm to Preschool

    girl playing drum Inspired by the Farm to Preschool movement, we have adapted a nutrition and fitness program introducing fresh vegetables, fruits, and gardening to children. Our garden space allows children hands-on experience with planting, harvesting, and the natural cycle of growth and discovery.

    “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
    ~ Masanobu Fukuoka,
    The One-Straw Revolution









    Educators collaborate to introduce seasonal vegetables and other foods in ways that make “healthy” fun and meaningful. Children may harvest, slice and chop a vegetable or herb from the preschool garden or a class may take a field trip to a goat farm and learn how to make goat cheese. In collaboration with the children and families in our school, educators seek to introduce meaningful nutritional experiences and fitness awareness.



    cartoon kids cartoon kids

    To learn more:

    Farm to Preschool
    Georgia's Farm to Preschool Page
    Early Sprouts
    Atlanta Contact Point

    Community Service

    girl playing drum Seeking to be contributing members of our church community we have looked toward the children’s observations to build connections.

    There is a food pantry that operates every Saturday in our building and as the children enter many of them notice the canned goods and cereal boxes being dropped off in bins in the hallway. One of our resource educators volunteers regularly at the food pantry and collaborated with the classroom teachers to engage groups of children in the process of stocking the food pantry and even selecting and bagging groceries for pick-up on Saturday mornings.

    Children also participated in sorting, counting, and bagging toiletry items. They learn to weigh the bags of groceries since the Food Pantry clients don’t have cars and must carry their groceries. They are interested and curious as they begin to expand their knowledge to include other members of our broader community.


    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
    ~ Margaret Mead
    girl playing drum girl playing drum

    Adaptive Learning Center

    As part of our commitment to honor diversity and include children with special rights, Druid Hills Preschool has partnered with The Adaptive Learning Center (ALC) to assist our infants and children with developmental disabilities and their families.

    Last year the Adaptive Learning Center was able to impact the lives of over 500 individuals in 5 preschools around Atlanta with their effective, powerful programs.




    adaptive learning

    To learn more:
    The Adaptive Learning Center