Most parents do not attend preschool with their children and most young children are not able to give their parents an hour-by-hour report of their morning in preschool. Though preschools may vary in activities provided, this short “story” of a typical morning in the preschool at the Marinwood Community Center will offer a little insight for parents.

The mornings are so lovely: children come in with big eyes looking to see what interesting toys and materials are out waiting for them or which of their favorite friends have already arrived. At our school, we rotate the toys so there are always some surprises. Every child has favorites. Some children will immediately go toward the tables with imaginative play figures and some always look for building materials. A few with more academic interests will move from one individual task to another until they have completed all of those available for the day. Children mix up playing with others and playing alone. We teachers move around listening to interactions and sometimes sitting for a bit in the different clusters. After about 45 minutes, we can feel a gentle restlessness beginning; time to create a little grounding with food. Water, muffins and fruit are happily consumed. Watching the four year olds spending a little nibbling and talk time with a few more friends around the snack tables remind me of how we adults like to sit and socialize that way.

Children really enjoy a predictable schedule and there are always a few who like to tell us what is coming next. In our preschool, we have a weekly theme to which we tie play materials, stories, songs, projects, and science experiments. Story time pulls everyone together at the big rug. A few stories, a few songs, and a few comments from children, who might want to talk, make for a nice after snack morning gathering…

I think it would be hard to pick which part of our day is most favorite among the children… There seems to be a general rush to each next thing. Next, all move to the project tables taking their seats to begin creating. Even though all students receive the same art materials, it is exciting to see the variety of finished results. Hanging the finished projects up and encouraging everyone to enjoy the show, adds a little extra.

We are fortunate to have such a beautiful park and playground and we make use of it each day, weather providing. We give every child a turn leading the group in walking to the park. At the park, children spend time in the sand box, swinging, climbing or playing a few spontaneous games. Collecting acorns or looking for treasures under the trees make the time pass quickly until we walk back to the classroom for hand washing and lunch. Children bring lunches from home and like to show one another the contents of their lunch boxes, especially the iced cooling packets.

I am newly surprised each year with the enthusiasm Friday science generates. We may plant seeds, examine rocks or shells, or experiment with vinegar and baking soda to make raisins “dance”.

Having read this, you can now see how much can be covered in three short hours. At our school, we take numerous photos so that when summer comes, a special book can go home highlighting some of our preschool experiences. We bring these books out periodically during the year and ask the children to describe each photo newly pasted in their books as we write down their words. We all harbor the wish to be a fly on the wall, to see what aspects of our children’s personalities come out when we are not present. Do not hesitate to ask questions of your children’s teachers. I often think about writing a small notebook for each parent, filled with notes about their child that I have come to know. Maybe this year, I will.

Susan Press