At Central Branch, we take play seriously.
Play is how children rehearse the connections that will make life meaningful. It is how their brains establish links between feelings and language. Engaging in deep play allows children to develop close relationships with peers, teachers and themselves. These relationships help them to develop lifelong skills such as empathy, resilience and problem solving, all the while discovering the joy of knowing others and themselves.
Young children learn by doing, by actively working with things in their environment, using all their senses. At Central Branch, we put emphasis on the whole child: physical, emotional, intellectual, and linguistic.
A play-based education means that we are able to allow the play and the curriculum to inform one another. Children have an endless supply of imaginative initiative when it comes to play and learning. We provide a rich environment and let the children transform it into their own experience, following along and supporting as and when necessary. Teachers gently guide and help facilitate connections between the children.
Time does not mean to children what it means to adults. While we have set times for drop offs and pick ups, and routines that structure our days, strict schedules are not imposed upon the children. If immersed in an activity that activates and engages the entire class, we don’t interrupt it just for the sake of changing activities. Each class, each day, incorporates the following five key elements: Class Project (e.g., cooking, art, baking); Circle or Meeting; Free Choice; Stories; and Large Motor Time (outdoors — weather permitting). Classes meet in their own rooms, with access to shared indoor and outdoor spaces for active play. Children visit between groups occasionally and classes often join each other for outdoor activities.
Creativity is experienced through painting, drawing, building, music, movement, dramatic play, and story-telling. Initiative and self-motivation are encouraged by allowing plenty of time for free choice activities. However, because children teach and learn from each other, there is also lot of emphasis on cooperative play.
Those who show readiness for work at the symbolic level are given direction in reading, writing and computation, though academics are not the primary focus of our program. We focus on the development of language as a crucial vehicle for self-expression and communication; math and science takes shape through activities involving classification, investigating dynamics, and exploring spatial relations.
Central Branch is made up of a diverse community of children and their families. Which we not only embrace but celebrate.
The social-emotional development of young children is at the root of our program. Learning can only take place when children feel valued and heard and part of a community. This is our focus.
We use a variety of tools to identify and record the growth of your child. Through observation, interaction, classroom activities and work, and the High Scope COR Observation Record, we document the development of your child throughout the year. Your input is important and integral to this process. We have two formal Teacher Conferences a year and many, many informal conversations. Our communication and connection with you helps us to identify the growth that is taking place as your child plays, tries out new ideas, solves problems, and makes new friends.
Typically, we enroll several classes of children close in age – a 2/3’s class, a 3/4’s class, a 4/5’s class and a couple of mixed-aged (3-5’s) classes. Classes meet in their own rooms, with access to shared indoor and outdoor spaces for active play. Children visit between groups occasionally with classes joining each other for outdoor activities.
For the 2020-2021 school year we have altered our program to provide an environment that is safer for families and staff during the pandemic. Classes meet outdoors (with a few exceptions such as inclement weather) and there is no interaction between classes. Please read our COVID-19 Handbook for more detailed information about the steps we have taken during this time.
Central Branch provides a wonderful summer program for 3 to 6 year-olds. We play and explore outdoors every single day. Participants enjoy songs, arts and crafts, sports, walks to the beach, short bus rides, and so much more!