Four and five-year-old children who are participating in our M/W/F Program are invited to extend their day at First Congo two times a week. Children are welcome to stay for lunch and a small group activity on either Monday or Wednesday. This group will be no larger than 12 students (half the class) and the activities week to week will vary upon the seasons, the curriculum and the interests of the group. On Fridays, our students will enjoy a supervised walk over to the Palo Alto Art Center to participate in an art class specifically designed for our school.
Goals of our Extended Day Program: Small Group Interactions
Learning increases when children attempt try to explain concepts and answer questions about topics that they are learning. When students generate explanatory answers to questions as part of learning in a group, better learning occurs for students doing the explaining. In small groups, all children are afforded the opportunity to share their ideas. Hands on activities that help children generate explanations to questions during group interactions make the concepts more meaningful. When trying to predict the results of experiments, themes of upcoming text, or answers to questions poised by a facilitator, children generate more connections between what they already know and the new information being presented. Attempting to explain what they just learned, its significance and relevance to previously known ideas solidifies a new level of understanding about newly introduced ideas.
Facilitating the Use of Rich Language:
A rich language-learning environment promotes peer interactions, provides the foundation for early literacy development and gives children the opportunity to practice and develop speaking and listening skills. A conversation facilitation style that is child-centered (following a children’s lead), interactive (asks questions that continue the conversation, waits for a child to take a turn) and models rich language use (labels, expands, comments) helps children to become more talkative, use a more diverse vocabulary and increases their peer interactions.
Fostering Independence and Self-Help Skills:
Opportunities to take risks, problem solve and manage one’s own needs helps to build confidence and competence on the road to independence. Children thrive in an environment where learning opportunities are appropriately scaffolded allowing for the ‘just right’ amount of reach to the next step of development. Our small group extended day enrichment program offers children the opportunity to manage their own meal experience at school under the supervision of a teacher. Parents decide what to send in the lunch a child brings from home, but each child will independently decide how much to eat, at what pace and in the proximity of which friend. Given the time, the space, and the right materials, children learn the skills required for self-sufficiency and become capable of managing their bodies, their belongings and their peer interactions.