Young Threes:  2 ½ to 3 years
Young Threes are learning to make lots of important transitions in their development!  They are primarily concerned with understanding who they are, especially in relation to others.  This need to develop a sense of self has a lot to do with their desire and drive for independence and control.  They want to “be their own person” and “do it themselves”!  Such great qualities and when you combine that with rapidly growing communication skills, you have children making important transitions to becoming real preschoolers!  

Teachers at Growing Years are busy modeling good behavior and guiding young three year olds into understanding social rules and making good choices while supporting their individuality and desire to assert themselves.  It’s important to give this group plenty of choices of activities in a well-designed environment as they participate in group play, fantasy play, and independent activities.

Primary Caregiving:
Research and early childhood professionals tell us that it is vitally important for toddlers to form an attachment with a caregiver as soon as possible upon entering a new program.  Forming a bond/attachment to a significant caregiver/teacher helps a child feel secure in their environment and gives them the ability to thrive within it. 

At Growing Years we attempt to form these bonds through a system of supervision called “primary caregiving”.  Each child is assigned to a caregiver who will provide the majority of care, comfort, communication with the family, and record keeping throughout the day.  As much as possible, we try to give children the ability to “pick” their primary caregiver by waiting to see who they might be naturally drawn to.

Communication:
Each month the lead teacher sends home a newsletter which outlines what they will be focusing on with the High Reach Curriculum, as well as sharing words to songs and fingerplays with parents.  Other information pertinent to the program is shared also.

Besides the Growing Years Parent Handbook, parents will also receive a Welcome Packet for the Young Threes classroom which outlines information specific to that program.

Teachers may be reached any time during the day by calling the school at 989-792-8670 or by e-mailing us at info@growingyearspreschool.com.


Daily Schedule:
Although Young Threes still need a lot of flexibility in their day, they also enjoy and need some structure and routine as well.  Having a routine of events throughout the day gives young preschoolers a sense of security. They can begin to anticipate the order of events while becoming familiar with how those routines are carried out, such as group time, eating time, center time, and going outdoors, etc. 

A typical day in the Young Threes room might look like this: (Toilet learning occurs throughout the day as needed.)

Time Activity
6:30—7:00am: Children begin arriving and are greeted by staff.  Belongings are placed in cubbies.  Any special information for each child is shared with teachers and notated.
7:00—8:30am: Growing Years breakfast is served each day.  Breakfast and lunch menus are sent home and posted each month for parents.
8:45—9:00am: Morning large group time.  Teachers introduce new concepts from the High
Reach curriculum for Young Threes, called Caterpillars.  They also engage in other activities such as songs, finger plays, and stories.  Teachers explain what they will find at the center areas that day.
9:00-10:30am: Young Threes move freely about the room engaging in interest area activities, such as large motor play, sand and water play, dramatic play, blocks, writing, manipulatives, and art exploration.   Open snack is also offered at this time as a center choice.
10:30—11:00am: Children are taken outdoors daily as long as weather permits.  It is important for children to get fresh air and explore the outside world each day.  Growing Years has a separate playground for this age group that is full of fun, developmentally appropriate equipment.
11:00—11:15am: Children are changed or encouraged to use the potty, wash up, and prepare for lunch.
11:15—12:00pm: Lunchtime!  Teachers sit and enjoy lunch with their group of eight children and then clean-up together.
12:30—2:30pm: After lunch and potty/diaper changes, Young Threes ly down on cots for nap time and teachers pat children’s backs until they fall asleep.  Soft music is also played to comfort children during nap time.
2:30—3:00pm: Children awake from nap and are helped with potty/diaper changes.
3:00—3:15pm: Afternoon snack is served as a whole group, with teachers sitting and enjoying snack with their group of eight children.
3:15—3:45pm: Afternoon playground time, weather permitting.
4:00—5:15pm: Young Threes are engaged in small groups with teachers and other children for activities such as singing, reading books, or doing an art or sensory activity together.
After small group time, children move freely throughout the room where teachers have structured interest activities involving small motor development (puzzles, etc.) or large motor development, as well as opportunities for creative expression through dramatic play, building with blocks, and socializing with other Young Threes friends!
5:15—6:00pm: Children engage in individual activities with teachers as they await pick-up by parents.  Upon pick-up, teachers share news of the day’s activities for each child and chat with parents.

Curriculum:
Young Threes use the Caterpillars curriculum from High Reach Learning. This program is designed to help Young Threes explore the world around them. Colors, shapes, and number recognition are just a few of the important skills your child will learn as they work through the school year. Caterpillars includes multi-level adaptations to help meet the needs of all students.

Caterpillar Program Themes
Month: Theme:
September From Head to Toe
October Just Imagine
November Deep in the Forest
December Pack Your Suitcase
January Dinosaurs are Dino-mite
February Reach for the Stars
March Barnyard Buddies
April Egg-citing Events
May Jungle Jamboree

Colors: Shapes: Puppet Friends: Numbers:
Red, orange, brown, green, blue, pink, yellow, purple, and white. Circle, triangle, heart, square, rectangle, heart, diamond, and oval. Nurse, firefighter, forest ranger, police officer, construction worker, astronaut, farmer, chef, and mail carrier. 0-10

Weekly Bible lessons:
Each week the classroom teacher presents a new Bible lesson to our Young Threes.  Our Christian curriculum is non-denominational and geared towards building strong character, love and consideration for others, and making wise moral choices.  Each lesson from either the Old or New Testament is shared in an attempt to make it relevant to the age group involved.  To help with reinforcement of the concepts, each lesson is followed by a creative art idea.

In addition to the classroom lessons, Mrs. Anita Collins, the owner/director of Growing Years, meets with the Young Threes in the library each week to help reinforce Christian concepts using flannel board stories/characters, puppets, books, songs, and fingerplays.

Peddlesfoots Character Education Curriculum:
Each week the Young Threes class participates in a character education program featuring a family of rabbits named the Peddlesfoots.  Through the stories of their many antics and trials, children learn about the importance of becoming children of good character. The stories have been combined with exciting lesson plans and activities for teachers to extend the concepts of trustworthiness, respect, perseverance, caring, citizenship, fairness, self-discipline, responsibility, and courage.  Besides the stories, children also enjoy the song CD, read-a-long CD, and Peddlesfoots puppets.

This series was written by Anita Collins, the owner/director of Growing Years, along with her son, Matthew Hill, and daughter, Lisa Workman, who are also teachers. 

In 2006, the Peddlesfoots curriculum was selected as the centerpiece of a federally funded grant—Partnerships in Character Education—that was awarded to the Saginaw Intermediate School District.  After being rigorously researched for 4 years, the Peddlesfoots curriculum demonstrated significant increases in children’s pro-social behavior as well as improved academic achievement in literacy.  Separate levels of curriculum were developed for preschool, kindergarten, and first grades.

If you would like more information about our character education program, we have a website at www.peddlesfoots.com or visit www.truesaginaw.org.

Special Holiday Programs:
Believe it or not, the Young Threes put on 4 programs throughout the school year for parents and other family members to enjoy! 
  1. Children learn about the first Thanksgiving and celebrate by wearing costumes and 
    entertaining you with songs, fingerplays, and a delightful menu of snacks.
  2. Children learn about the first Christmas and celebrate by wearing costumes, 
    re-enacting parts of the story through songs and fingerplays, sharing cookies and 
    punch, and  then being surprised by a visit from Santa!
  3. Mother’s Day Brunch is a hit each year as Moms are made to feel special and 
    appreciated (we hope) through a program of songs, poems, fingerplays, and 
    homemade gifts, followed by a brunch in their honor.  (Grandmas or aunts are 
    welcome too)
  4. Daddy’s Day Lunch is a great way for children to appreciate their fathers in a special 
    way through songs, poems, fingerplays, and a special handmade gift, followed by 
    lunch in Dad’s honor.  (Grandpas or uncles are welcome too) 

Music for Munchkins:
We are so fortunate to have Mrs. Michele Spitz/Wietfeldt as our music teacher!  The children love her and look forward to her weekly visits.  We have a longstanding relationship with Michele as she is also the singer and music arranger for the Peddlesfoots series of songs. 

In addition to Music for Munchkins playing a key role at Growing Years, Michele is  busy working with children throughout the Saginaw area as she teaches music and provides entertainment for children’s parties.

She is also available to sing for weddings and adult engagements.  If you’re interested in learning more about Michele, you can visit her website at www.musicformunchkins.com.

Developmental Milestones/Assessment:
As part of our assessment plan, our teachers keep a portfolio of each child’s work throughout the year to share with parents during parent/teacher conferences, held twice a year.  This is a special time to talk about your child’s growth and achievements as well as any concerns you might have.
In addition, parents will receive a developmental milestone report approximately every 3 months to let parents know what we are experiencing with their child at Growing Years.  These reports become the vehicle we use to share our understanding of early childhood development as outlined by child development professionals.

Finally, we begin teaching literacy appreciation, print awareness, and phonics instruction in an attempt to build a lasting foundation for reading success! 

As all of this information is reviewed throughout the year, it is important to understand that individual children may exhibit all or only a few of the behaviors for a given age group and still fall within the normal range of development.  Obviously, children progress at different rates throughout all aspects of their development.


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