Dublin Preschool

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Early Learning Disguised as Play



A three year old boy pours his own juice into a cup at snack time. He proudly announces “no spills!” and begins to eat a healthy snack and chat with his friends.

A four year old boy sits quietly building with blocks in a corner. He becomes frustrated when the structure he is building repeatedly falls down. A teacher sitting close by asks him what he thinks the problem may be and how he can resolve it. The boy thinks for a moment, and fortifies the bottom of the tower with more blocks. When he sees the tower remains standing, he happily keeps on playing.

A four year old girl is at the art table, she seemingly scribbles on a piece of white paper in different colors. Her teacher asks, “So what did you draw today?” The girl points to the writing on the top of the page and says, “This says ‘I love Dad’.” She then indicates the writing lower down and states that it says, “I love Mom”.

These activities are fairly typical of daily life in a preschool. But what may seem as though it is simple play is in actuality children deeply entrenched in early learning. Though there is much learning to be had in teacher directed activities, there is learning through play and experience happening all day long in a preschool environment. Our juice pourer is practicing motor skills as well as social skills, while our block builder is being given the opportunity to practice critical thinking and problem solving. Our artist is learning language and literacy skills, print carries messages, and writing happens from left to right.

In the preschool environment young children learn how to take care of themselves and others. They can develop their fine and gross motor skills through such activities as puzzles and outside time. They can learn letters, numbers and colors and all the academic pieces that they will need in kindergarten. But perhaps more importantly they can also learn just how much they are capable of. They can learn that nature is even more fascinating than a video game and a close friendship more fun than an I-Pad.

Sometimes play is indeed just play, however, with plenty of opportunities, encouragement and a bit of self confidence, play can blossom into a lifelong delight in learning.



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The Benefits of Butterscotch


Two months ago, after much hesitation, I made the leap to adopt a classroom pet.  Over the course of my years at Dublin Community Preschool, we have had many pets – fish of all varieties, hermit crabs, hamsters, rats, a rabbit and a number of guinea pigs that we fostered from the Monadnock Humane Society.  The purpose of the MHS fostering program was to find permanent homes for the pets, which we mostly did with great success.  It was a win-win relationship.  And then, after a number of years, we took a break from pets – but it felt like something was missing.

It was time to try again.  So, after a visit to the Animal Rescue League of NH, I brought a two-year-old female guinea pig home to DCP.

Butterscotch was received with great joy and much curiosity.  What has followed has been heartwarming.

We set up her cage in the quiet reading area of our classroom.  Within a day, we witnessed both before- school children and preschoolers trying to read to her.  We now offer lap time every morning where children can quietly cuddle with her or choose to read her a story.

We often witness children leaving the busier areas of the classroom to share their worries and concerns through the bars of her cage and though there may only be the twitch of a furry nose or the tiniest of squeaks in response to sometimes elaborate conversations, the children leave feeling better for having shared an emotional burden with a non judgmental friend.

She has evoked so much curiosity.  The children are always observing her actions- noticing what she likes to eat or which are her favorite areas to be scratched or patted.  They wonder what she is thinking.  Many have included her in their artwork.  They are completely in tune with her and often show as much concern for her as any of their peers.  She is included in our morning circle song and recognized right along with the rest of her human friends.  As we eat snack, the children ask to save leftover veggies for her instead of throwing them away.  She goes home with children on weekends and holidays creating a deeper home-school connection for many.

When we contemplated the pros and cons of having a classroom pet again, we never expected that we would be getting a literacy advocate, a therapist and a new friend.