Welcome to Little Hearts, Stone Ridge's co-educational Early Childhood Program in our Lower School, serving children from three-months through Kindergarten age. Little Hearts is where the love of learning begins in our Sacred Heart family.
Our early childhood classrooms provide a nurturing environment, where our youngest learners ask questions, solve problems, respect themselves, and care for others.
Our cognitive expectations, taught through researched-based best practices, The Creative Curriculum and The Project Approach, promote exploration within a structured and nurturing learning environment. Opportunities are created for child-centered inquiry, for purposeful play in support of essential learning, for teachers to form community with children in the classroom, and for children to construct their own knowledge. Constant and close student observation and assessment guide the teachers in reflective and purposeful planning and teaching.
When our children move on from the Early Childhood classrooms at Stone Ridge, they are able to transfer their social, emotional, and cognitive skills to their future educational and life experiences.
In our Little Hearts classrooms there are centers for learning:
Even for our youngest learners at the age of three months through two year-olds, we provide the building blocks for a lifetime of learning.
We believe young children learn best through play, hands-on activities, and rich interpersonal relationships. The children are encouraged to explore, interact, imagine, and create. Stone Ridge works with the children under an integrated, project-based plan, that is designed to enhance cognitive, physical, emotional, and social growth at the developmentally appropriate levels. Above all, the program provides a safe, loving, creative, and stimulating environment and nurtures a love of learning.
We look forward to meeting you and working with your young child as he or she starts the journey to becoming a lifelong learner in the Sacred Heart tradition.
Director of Early Childhood Program, Infants and Toddlers
Philosophy for Preschool
Stone Ridge’s Preschool provides both a structured, nurturing learning environment for children ages 2.5-4 years old. Our child-centered program promotes and supports inquiry and exploration, and social-emotional development through The Creative Curriculum, and The Project Approach.
Children construct knowledge and begin their journey as lifelong learners based on the integrations of best educational practices about how children learn and develop.
Literacy and Numeracy
In Preschool, the children’s natural curiosity and individuality is the driving force behind the curriculum. Students have ample opportunities to explore the natural world and build general knowledge through experiential learning. Over the course of a year, children gain developmentally appropriate skills that prepare them for the future.
Centers of Learning
Numeracy: Children experience math exploration every day. The math content is presented to children through project and center work and opportunities to explore using a variety of manipulatives.
Literacy: Children are exposed to a rich literacy-based environment through project work, centers, songs and fingerplays shared reading, read alouds, shared writing, journal writing, exposure to environmental print, and many opportunities to orally express themselves.
Investigation: Children explore and research materials in our world to find answers to their questions through project work.
Creativity: Children have many opportunities to explore and use materials to express how they feel and what they know.
Blocks: Children construct, create, and represent their knowledge and experiences using a variety of building materials.
Sensory: Children explore materials using all of their senses.
Dramatic Play: Children deepen their understanding of their world by recreating real-life experiences where they learn to cooperate and share.
Outdoor Classroom: Children explore the outdoors with excitement and curiosity where they develop their social, physical, language, and cognitive skills by asking questions, running, jumping, building, sharing, and problem solving.
Philosophy for Pre-Kindergarten
The Pre-Kindergarten program promotes exploration within both a structured and nurturing learning environment. Opportunities are created for child-centered inquiry and for students to construct their own knowledge through an integrated project-based curriculum. Children are met where they are in their development, and they develop intellectual curiosity as they unfold their God-given gifts.
Literacy and Numeracy
Children engage in interdisciplinary activities exploring phonemic awareness, concepts of print, comprehension of reading/what’s being read, alphabetic knowledge, writing, and oral language. Children construct, use, and reflect upon mathematical understandings through active exploration of numbers and operations, geometry, measurement, and data analysis using a variety of kinesthetic, manipulative materials.
Centers for Learning
Investigation: Math and science are integrated as children explore the relationship between numerals and quantities, geometric properties, patterning, sorting, classifying, and measuring. Purposeful play allows children to develop autonomy, for adults give them a chance to independently develop the skills of observation and inquiry.
Literacy: Children use a variety of materials to develop alphabetic knowledge, print awareness, comprehension, phonemic awareness, and handwriting. These skills combined allow children to express their ideas through pictures and words.
Sensory: Children explore, create, play, and investigate using the five senses to gain information about the world.
Creativity: Children use varied mediums to convey meaning through art. As children practice with materials, work is refined, and children clarify their expression.
Dramatic Play: While using dramatic play, children plan, negotiate, and collaborate, taking roles and developing narratives in a variety of imaginative situations as these relate to the project considered.
Blocks: Children develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills as well as a sense of the aesthetic as they experiment with shapes and construct unique structures through cooperative play.
Philosophy for Kindergarten
The Kindergarten program is designed to meet the developmental needs of children five years of age who learn through purposeful play and inquiry-based exploration. As Kindergarten children learn best in focused lessons of 15-20 minutes, the day has variety within a structured routine. The learning environment is arranged for children to make choices and to learn responsibility for maintaining the classroom as well as the materials. The social curriculum is as important as the cognitive curriculum, and it is the relationship forged with the teacher and among the children that best fosters key prosocial skills. The children learn cognitive skills in a cooperative model using the Reading and Writing Workshop, and math workshop and construct understandings through guided academic inquiries.
The Project Approach engages children’s hearts and minds by allowing an in-depth investigation into a certain topic. Continuous and close student observation and assessment guide the teachers in reflective and purposeful planning. Our early childhood teachers make decisions about the education of the children and the classroom space on the basis of how Kindergarten children learn best; the individual strengths, needs, and interests of each child; and the culture of each child’s family and community. This purposeful and child-centered approach affords children a joyful and cooperative classroom experience.
At this age, social developmental challenges include learning to see things from another person’s point of view and testing authority. Cognizant of this, teachers create and promote a cooperative classroom community culture where children are involved in the creation of, and thus invested in, setting the rules and resolving disputes. This practice is rooted in our use of Responsive Classroom strategies for social-emotional learning. Teachers and Learning Strategists believe that each child is capable of high level numeracy and literacy work if she is allowed to construct her own understandings through guided cognitive inquiry. Carefully planned lessons and classroom environments make these philosophies a daily reality in the joyful and industrious Stone Ridge Kindergarten.
Kindergarteners enter with a range of literacy experiences. Through formal and authentic assessment, faculty design instructional experiences to take each child as far as she can go over the course of the year. Students engage at a range of reading levels, each in good company of her peers in small groups with appropriately challenging explorations to build skills in phonics, decoding, encoding and reading fluency and comprehension.
Building upon children’s observations about numbers and the world, strong foundations for number sense and early geometric understanding are created in Kindergarten. Based upon authentic assessments, children engage in differentiated investigations crafted within precise mathematical contexts.
The Stone Ridge Expectations for Learning provide developmentally-appropriate objectives as children are guided to develop a varied toolbox of problem-solving strategies. Kindergarten numeracy allows for multiple pathways to understanding where children utilize mathematical models/manipulatives, big ideas and concepts necessary for early number sense, addition, and subtraction.
Centers for Learning
The Studio: Children engage in creative expression with multiple mediums of art
The Office: Children express themselves with words and media.
Literacy Station: Children work with words to construct meaning and contiguously cultivate self-expression and a deeper understanding of the world
Investigation Station: Children explore the world kinesthetically through inquiry-based cognitive activities
Numeracy Station: Children explore mathematical models from within the world
Sensory Exploration Station: Children experiment with textured materials.
Our Work Portfolios: Portfolios are kept for each child, which allow teachers to reflect with both children and parents promoting individualized optimal development and learning.
Blocks: Kindergarteners explore geometry using blocks as manipulatives.
Gathering Place: The classroom, and specifically a community gathering place, is organized so the children learn in collaboration with each other and their teachers through storytelling, empathy, direct instruction, and conversation.
Peace Mat: Kindergarten students have a specific space within the classroom where they make peace.