OUR INFANT ROOMS
Our infant rooms are the heart of TLT’s long standing family oriented environment. Upon entering our Willows and Magnolias classrooms you instantly feel the warmth and love provided by our experienced and mature teachers. But before you come in, please remove your shoes or put on a pair of our complimentary shoe covers as our infant rooms are fully carpeted and shoe free! With our littlest friends crawling, rolling, and sprawling out as they develop from delicate infants into curious pre-toddlers, we take great pride in ensuring our rooms are as clean, safe, and welcoming as possible. Once you enter our bright and inviting infant rooms, you will be greeted by our wonderful teachers, some of whom have been with Miss Marta for over 20 years. These amazing ladies are able to maintain well-run efficient infant rooms without sacrificing the warmth and love that makes The Learning Tree feel like a second home to our babies and their families.
Willows & Magnolia 0-12 months
Inside you will find infants of various ages sleeping, eating, playing, bouncing, enjoying tummy time, giggling, crawling, taking first steps and so much more. You will see teachers stimulating healthy brain development during this crucial first year by building trusting and loving relationships with each baby in our care. They accomplish this through interactive feedings, singing, cuddling, smiling, and warm eye contact topped with oodles of love and nurturing. You will see soft spaces, developmentally appropriate toys, and well maintained equipment.
Our infants are on an individual schedule which our seasoned teachers help establish from the first day of care based on the needs of each child and his or her family. The schedules will change as the child grows and develops. Prior to turning one, each infant is transitioned to a toddler schedule in preparation for our Peaches classroom. During this process, our teachers help our oldest infants to develop independent eating skills, master drinking from a sippy cup, and work towards one long midday nap.
Many of our infant teachers have not only raised their own children and grandchildren, they have had a hand in raising hundreds of children, siblings, and even children of former infants they cared for many years ago! The Learning Tree infant rooms truly are a “family tradition”.
OUR TODDLER ROOMS
The toddler stage lasts from around 12 months to 24 months of age. This is a very busy developmental year and growth varies from child to child. For this reason, we have our toddlers divided into three separate rooms in order to provide the safest, most developmentally appropriate environment for each stage of growth. The decision to transition a child to the next toddler room is not necessarily based on age, but rather the individual needs of the child as well as input from teachers and families. The age ranges indicated below for these classrooms are approximate.
Peaches 12-16 months
The Peaches are our youngest toddlers. Some are professional walkers, some are just finding their balance, and others are still crawling. However, it doesn’t take long before our little crawlers are up and around in an effort to keep up with their more sure footed friends, many of whom they spent time with in the infant room. Whether a Peach is new to our preschool family or moved up from the baby room, it doesn’t take long for them to fit right into the toddler life style! The Peaches enjoy their own grassy outdoor play space twice each day, weather permitting. This allows our youngest toddlers to become more established in their gross motor skills prior to sharing a larger outdoor space with our older toddlers.
Our Peaches teachers begin fostering independence for our littlest toddlers while still providing the nurturing care and individual attention they continue to crave. Our well trained teachers provide quality opportunities for exploration, fine and gross motor development, social emotional development, and sensory experiences which naturally combine to promote healthy cognitive development. Children begin to establish communication skills through sign language, beginning words, and group time with rich literacy activities. Teachers introduce children to the vocabulary necessary to establish concepts of self-awareness as well as environmental awareness. They begin to learn who they are and how they fit into the world.
Maples 16-20 months
Most of our Maples are quick on their feet and ready to explore the world! The spacious classroom allows them plenty of room to satisfy their need to move and groove. Maples teachers continue to build on the skills and concepts established by the Peaches teachers by using more specific and descriptive vocabulary, more complex stories and fingerplays, and by providing a deeper understanding of the objects and people around them. Routines become more established and independence continues to develop. While our toddlers follow a daily schedule, they are allowed the flexibility to nurture their individual needs throughout the day.
The Maples share the large side playground with the older toddlers and younger two year old’s. This is a nicely shaded tree lined play space with toddler friendly structures, a non-toxic rubber mulch surface, a large sanded area for digging, and a sidewalk area for push toys.
Cherry Blossoms 20-24 months
The Cherry Blossoms are our oldest toddlers on their way to the wonderful world of the two year old’s! These little friends are curious, eager, and demand independence! Again, the large classroom makes it easy for them to explore, play, and move around with ease. The CB teachers continue to foster independence by building on the self-help skills that the previous classrooms have laid the groundwork for. Although children at this age are not developmentally ready to share, teachers begin to work on the concept of taking turns which helps them begin to establish a sense of respect for others. Cherry Blossom teachers continue to empower children with a rich vocabulary through shape and color recognition, songs, stories, fingerplays, and the ability to use their words to express what they like and do not like.
If your Cherry Blossom is expressing an interest in toilet training and you are working with them at home, we are happy to work with them at school as well. Most children are not quite ready for this milestone until they turn two, however, all children develop at different stages and we are more than happy to accommodate early bloomers!
OUR TWO YEAR OLD CLASSROOMS
We like to call this stage the “Terrific Two’s”. A young two-year old and a child approaching three years old are at very different developmental stages and have their own unique needs. For this reason, our two year old’s are separated into two classrooms; younger two’s and older two’s. Children at this age are like sponges so our teachers give them plenty of knowledge to soak up every day!
Palms 2 – 2 1/2 years
Children in the Palms class begin to exhibit more purposeful play and communicate in the form of simple conversations. The Palms teachers are busy helping children learn through play, literacy, and hands on experiences. Rather than rote memorization, teachers support pre-academic skills by inserting teachable moments into the children’s natural learning environment. Color, shape, number, and letter recognition are learned through dramatic play, stories, songs, fingerplays, and art, as well as during center based and outdoor play. Fine and gross motor skills are promoted through puzzles, tweezer activities, lacing, sorting, and other manipulatives. Social emotional growth is stimulated by teachers empowering children with the words to use to express their wants, needs, and feelings. Redirection is used during conflicts as well as continuing to help children learn the concept of taking turns. While children this age are still developing the ability to share their favorite toys, Palms teachers help them learn the language they need to facilitate this process. These are the beginning steps to conflict resolution and self regulation which are further developed as children move through the next classrooms on their way to kindergarten!
Coconuts 2 ½ to 3 years
Our older two year olds are rapidly developing cognitively, emotionally, socially, and physically. The Coconut teachers strive to provide fun, hands on learning opportunities in order to nurture each of these developmental areas. Circle time becomes more organized and interactive as children talk about months, days, seasons, weather, community helpers and so much more! Our older two year olds engage in more purposeful center play as teachers interact with children and pose open ended questions about their play prompting critical thinking, language development, and problem solving skills. Conflict resolution skills are taught using Conscious Discipline techniques which empower children to confidently assert themselves in social situations by recognizing and labeling feelings. Children are shown how to communicate with their peers by putting words together to form simple phrases to express when they are angry, frustrated, sad, etc. This gives children the tools they need to verbally communicate in an appropriate way rather than resorting to physical aggression.
Fine motor activities are emphasized in order to help children gain the dexterity their little hands will need as they are learning to write, use scissors, turn book pages, hold utensils, and so much more.
THE BACK BUILDING (PRE-K)
Once our friends turn 3 and are potty trained, they graduate to the “Big Kid Building” which is located on the back side of our playground. The Pre-K building has 4 classrooms as well as a full size gym and “cubby room”. This is always a very exciting transition for our students as they begin to gain a stronger sense of independence and have several more extra-curricular options including Spanish, dance, Mini Monet’s, and soccer. The back building allows children a better sense of what kindergarten will entail with more structured routines, a focus on social/emotional skills, group bathroom trips, and a Pre-K curriculum which introduces them to pre-reading and math skills as well as science and social studies concepts.
The Sycamores younger 3 year olds
The first stop in the back building is the Sycamore’s classroom. Students in this classroom will play a major role in creating their everyday learning environment. From room arrangement, to daily classroom jobs, to helping design their daily calendar, the Sycamore students are very hands-on! The teachers in this room use a play-based curriculum in order to prepare children socially, emotionally, and cognitively for the next classroom and ultimately set the stage for a lifelong love of learning. Weekly lesson plans are based on the NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development and are guided by what the children’s interests are in order to create more meaningful learning experiences. The Sycamore’s begin with a Morning Pep Talk where they discuss the classroom philosophy of “I can do all things through Christ” and how this translates into their everyday learning, exploration opportunities, and confidence level.
In the Sycamore classroom, the environment is considered the “third teacher”. Nature is integrated into everyday learning both indoors and outdoors. Whether it’s planting a garden, searching for treasures in the sand table, birdwatching, an exploratory nature walk, or simply enjoying a snack in our picnic area, children are exposed to all of the wonders that nature has to offer on a daily basis.
Bamboos older 3 year olds
Our older three year olds are off to the Bamboos classroom! In this room, the teachers continue with a play based learning model incorporating pre-academic skills into meaningful everyday experiences. Children rotate through each of the learning centers where they are able to explore and manipulate materials independently as well as through peer and teacher interactions. In “Manipulatives” children are exposed to mathematical concepts such as number recognition, counting, patterns, matching, and weight distribution. Just as the name of the center indicates, the manipulation of these materials is very important in strengthening the children’s fine motor skills as many of the objects require strategic placement, balancing, and fine muscle control. Strengthening fine motor skills is important as children are learning to master cutting skills and pencil grip. In “Blocks” children are testing the limits of physics, learning about gravity, balance, cause and effect, and simple engineering concepts. In “Science” children have the opportunity to explore different objects found in nature with magnifying glasses and microscopes. They experiment with magnets, liquid mixtures, and other scientific phenomena that ignite curiosity and influence how they view the world around them. The “Dramatic Play” area provides children the opportunity to prepare a family feast, shop at the market, open a pizzeria, nurture their babies, go camping, visit another country, and so much more. The skies the limit as to where active imaginations can journey while in this center. Materials and objects are regularly rotated to provide an array of experiences. In “Language & Literacy” children are exposed to books, puppets, flannel board stories, and a variety of rotational activities to encourage language development. In the “Art” center, children have an opportunity to create drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages, and other projects. In addition to allowing their imaginations to take flight which, these activities promote fine motor development. Using scissors, crayons, markers, and paint brushes strengthens fingers, hands, wrists, and arms which is the basis for pre-writing skills.
In addition to center rotation, children in the Bamboos classroom will participate daily in teacher directed activities in a large group, small groups, and individually. Teachers will determine the needs of each child and work with them accordingly to meet classroom and individual goals.
The Kapoks Pre-K
The Kapoks is a combined classroom of younger four year olds and older four year olds. Half of the Kapoks will be off to Kindergarten the following fall while the other half will be off to the Dogwoods! For most of the day, the Kapoks operate as one large group. However, each morning the class breaks up into two groups for the teacher directed lessons. The younger group works with one teacher on tasks appropriate to their developmental level, while the older children work with the other teacher on kindergarten readiness skills.
The younger children continue to work on fine motor development, pencil grip, and pre-writing skills while the older children are developing more precise letter formation, writing words, and beginning math skills. As with all of our classrooms, The Kapoks teachers promote self-help skills, independence, self-regulation, and conflict resolution skills in order to prepare children for the large classroom setting they will experience in kindergarten.
The Kapoks take part in a variety of hands on activities throughout the year that connect them to what is happening in the world around them. In the fall, there is an amazing lesson on tropical storms and hurricanes. The teachers time this lesson with storms approaching the Carolina Coast to give children a real time learning experience. This unit covers everything from weather, to the concept of supply and demand to service learning. In spring, the Kapoks utilize the garden boxes outside of their classroom to plant a variety of vegetables. They spend several weeks tending to their gardens, learning many key science concepts along the way. Once the vegetable are ready to be harvested, the children are able to taste them in their natural state as well as incorporate them into recipes. It’s incredible to watch the children turn their noses up at a green onion, tomato, or green pepper until it becomes an ingredient in a yummy salsa! They are fascinated by the way the tastes can change and compliment other foods. The Kapoks even host their very own Garden Party during Azalea Festival week complete with fancy attire, tea, and dainty delicacies often prepared with vegetables from their own gardens!
Our Dogwoods class is made up entirely of children who will be entering Kindergarten the following fall. The teachers in this classroom rely on play based learning as well as more structured lesson times in an effort to prepare children for the world of kindergarten. While we still want these preschoolers to enjoy the freedom to learn through play and social interactions, we know that in this day and age, the expectations for kindergarten are becoming increasingly demanding. Our goal is to keep learning fun while preparing children for a more structured school environment. There is an emphasis on strengthening social emotional skills which are imperative in predicting a child’s level of success in elementary school. Children must first learn how to self-regulate their emotions, respect others, and resolve conflicts peacefully before they can successfully learn in a room with 20 or more peers. The Dogwoods use Daniel Tiger to teach these valuable skills in a fun and engaging way through stories, songs, and daily routines.
Academically, children continue with the concepts necessary for kindergarten readiness including beginning math skills, letter and number formation, and pre-reading skills and science activities. They embark on a weekly walk along the Hugh MaCrae Nature Trail where they enjoy the natural wonders that each season has to offer. The Dogwoods take part in several project based lessons which take them through the process of developing an idea and putting the idea into action. An example of this would be The Lemonade Stand Project. This idea started with the children wanting to raise money to have a special party. They discussed ways they could earn money and ultimately decided on a lemonade stand. For two weeks, they developed their plan which included; deciding on the best time and location, what products they would offer, advertising & promotion, and simple money concepts. This naturally led into several lessons about lemons and other citrus fruits as well. They learned how to make fresh squeezed lemonade and collected baked good donations to sell as well. The Dogwoods set up an amazing lemonade stand in our garden area where they sold baked goods and lemonade to parents, teachers, other classes, and even one of our local fire departments who dropped in for some midday refreshments. Every single child played an important role in the process and their sense of excitement and pride was infectious. As a result, they were eager to come to school each day to take on new tasks and work with their classmates and teachers towards a common goal. In the end, they raised $65 in just 2 hours and voted on how they wanted to use the money.