Forsyth County has its fair share of preschool programs, but Ardmore Baptist Preschool is doing things a little differently. After being a preschool since 1948, making it the oldest in Winston-Salem, they decided to take a new approach to the preschool experience. Director Julie Sugg explains, “When I took the job as Director four years ago, a church member approached me and asked to me attend a Reggio Emilia Conference to learn more about this approach. It was amazing. It opened my eyes to a whole new way to create a preschool environment. It just made sense. I knew it was exactly what we needed to do at our preschool.”
What is Reggio Emilia?
Reggio Emilia is a different approach to learning that values children and believes they are capable of constructing their own learning. There is no set curriculum because the heart of this experience is that every child has a hundred languages. That means that there are many different ways to show understanding and express creativity. Through hands-on, interactive experiences, where learning and play are not separated, children will define their own interests and, in turn, begin to love learning. This allows them to grow socially, emotionally and intellectually. Each child is allowed to play a role in planning what they want to learn. Teachers observe students and serve as mentors and guides to make a unique learning experience for each classroom and child. They also find creative ways to tie in the state-regulated guidelines for kindergarten readiness. This requires teachers who are lifelong learners and who love to research, enjoy staff development and are willing to learn along with their students. Ardmore Baptist Preschool values the staff development necessary with the Reggio Emilia approach, because they believe when you know better, you do better.
Connecting to Nature
There is a strong connection to nature present in the classroom, as well as lots of opportunities to get outside and explore the natural world. The Reggio Emilia approach recognizes that the environment is also a teacher and being outside allows students to observe things they will want to learn more about. This is ever present at Ardmore Baptist Preschool. You will constantly see students outside, and you can’t help but notice how this affects learning in the classroom.
The Classroom Environment
In the classrooms of Ardmore Preschool you will find a calm, relaxing environment. There is very little artificial lighting and everything you find there has been placed with a purpose. Each room is designed to be on the level of the age group in it. You will also find a very home-like environment, with pictures of family members and displays of art that the children choose, and authentic materials and tools of all kinds for the children to explore and create with. When teachers observe a learning interest within the group, they guide and mentor the children through it. Each classroom is centered on fostering children of all kinds, in an inclusive environment that teaches them important lifelong skills. They are encouraged to be independent, creative, problem solvers who think outside the box. They learn to understand how to work together, while being respected for who they are. Parents are given weekly plans to update them about what is going on in the classroom and are encouraged to participate at any time.
Connecting to the Church
In addition to being a Reggio Emilia inspired school, they are a Christ-centered program that is a ministry of the church. They work to connect the children with the church by creating a crossover relationship to enhance the relationship- based element involved in the Reggio Emilia approach. The children also attend a weekly chapel where they are encouraged to explore the space and learn about God’s Love. They learn a simple Bible verse every week, too, that can be applied to their everyday life experience in a hands-on way.
If you are interested in enrolling your child in the program, call and schedule a tour. The best way to know if this program is the right fit for your family is to see it in action.
Ardmore Baptist Preschool is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 12pm, with an optional “lunch-bunch” till 1pm. The program runs from September to May. They offer preschool classes for children from the age of three months to 5 years. Registration opens in February for Fall 2019. If you would like more information, visit the website at www.ardmorebaptist.org/ardmore-preschool-landing-page/or call 336-725-8767.