Our Classrooms and staff
Unlike many other early learning facilities, Burlington Little School has made it our practice to care for the staff first and foremost. Caring, happy teachers are the key to a successful, nurturing environment. Here at BLS you will find that our teachers are choosing to invest their passion and their time here because we reward creativity and care with paid professional development, paid planning time, and some of the most competitive wages in the area. Several of our current teachers waited for the opportunity to join us, and this year we experienced zero turn over, which is almost unheard of in this field.
Our teachers are allowed to create their own unique curriculum based on the interests and abilities of the children in each class. No curriculum will ever be the same! If the children are "into" big cats, big cats will be integrated into the curriculum. If they're into habitats, they'll create habitats. The teachers really use the children as inspiration to develop engaging lesson plans that are not only interesting, but also developmentally appropriate for the children, always striving to support children to the next level while making each step in progression fun!
The first goal of every teacher is to create a trusting relationship with each child. Children thrive when they feel they are in a safe space, so our teachers work hard to lay a foundation of trust that can be used to build on.
Soft, calming colors can be seen throughout our school. Inspired by nature, we try to integrate portions of the outside into our indoor spaces. Natural materials, lots of wood, and earth tone colors ensure that children feel comfortable and stress free. Bright colors can actually cause a stress reaction in some children, so we try to ensure that all of our spaces are comfortable, clean, and cozy feeling. We like it to feel less like a "center" and more like home.
Everything is scaled down to make sure our little ones are able to use their little bodies to the best of their capabilities. Tiny chairs, a low sink for hand washing, and a low loft and ramp all combine to make a safe place for little explorers to get busy! They even have their own dedicated play area outside. It is much smaller and more "closed" feeling than the large play yard, so even in the great outdoors toddlers can feel secure and safe.
AM Preschool and PM Pre-K
Our only shared space in the school, this room is home to both a morning preschool program and an afternoon pre-kindergarten program. While sharing a space can present challenges, the need in our community for part time early learning is great and the teachers have done a wonderful job meeting the challenges of a shared space. Materials that are developmentally appropriate for both age groups are shared, while other materials that might not work so well for little ones are kept out of reach.
Both groups use the stage to perform story dramas and can utilize the awesome loft. Under the loft, children are thrilled to find a small, comfortable area for reading, "cooking", and playing dress up.
Full Day Preschool
Warm wood tones and natural materials help children feel safe and secure. The materials are geared mostly to 2.5 - 3.5 year old children, but tailored to each specific class. Some years children are heavily into puzzles, so the teachers will stock up on puzzles! Some years the winning activity is building, so blocks become a staple of daily activities.
And you can't forget the school mascot, our bearded dragon Clyde! He is used in class to help the children foster a sense of responsibility and care. He can also provide a different avenue of teaching empathy development because when he's upset, he changes colors and the kids can see that happening.
The primary goal of this class is to support appropriate social and emotional development. The teachers work hard to provide authentic moments in which to teach empathy, cooperation, and also provide the social tools for children to work out challenging situations on their own.
Full Day Pre-Kindergarten
This is the biggest room in our school and every inch is utilized. With the biggest ratio we have (7:1) for a total of 14 students, all of which are around four years old, you can see why we'd dedicate our largest space to them. There's plenty of room to get some quiet time when needed, lots of room for independent or small group play, and even a little sound proofing to try to dampen the chaos that can sometimes happen.
In this room, social emotional development is reinforced, and it is layered with added responsibility and accountability. While still retaining the structure of play being the primary method of teaching lessons, this class leaves children ready for the next level of schooling, Kindergarten. They will leave ready to learn in the public school setting, although don't be surprised if you hear how much they miss this place when they're gone! The teachers integrate arts, numeracy, literacy, and fun into every day.
Transition to Kindergarten
So, what happens if your child doesn't make the age cut off for the public schools? Or what if you feel they simply aren't ready for that environment quite yet? For those circumstances we offer a Transition to Kindergarten class. Designed for children ages 4.5 and up, this class is a unique blend of both the Early Learning Guidelines and Common Core State Standards. While still using play as an integral part of the class, the primary focus of this class is numeracy and literacy. By using a wide variety of interesting materials, the teacher is able to build on the skills the children already possess to get them to the next level in their abilities. Children learn to use write and tell stories, act respectfully to each other and themselves, and learn to work through difficult situations to reach their goals.
Easily the defining feature of our school, our outdoor space is giant! We have swings, trees, flowers, a dirt pit for digging, bikes to ride, buckets and pails and a wonderful play structure with ropes and slides. We even have a tunnel through a hill to climb in! There's always something new to discover in our play area and this space is why "we believe in play." Children are encouraged to run around, get dirty, play fair, and love being outside!