Programs
Lower School | Nursery- Gr. 5

Early Childhood Nursery - Kindergarten

The Lower School's Early Childhood program introduces the youngest students at Wheeler to the seemingly magical process of learning. Our Nursery, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms are stimulating, colorful environments where children are inspired to wonder and encouraged to discover. During the Early Childhood years, students at Wheeler participate in a sophisticated play-based curriculum and our faculty members are dedicated to making sure that our students have a rewarding personal experience every day. Whether the challenge lies in the area of literacy development, mathematical concepts, or personal awareness, children in the early childhood program succeed in an extraordinarily rich, joyful, diverse and supportive family atmosphere. 

Both Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten are half day programs.  Optional afternoon care is available at an additional cost.  Click the Early Childhood Afternoon Option link in the right-hand column for details.
    • Nursery Blastoff 2016

Early Childhood Curriculum

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  • Language Arts

    Early Childhood classrooms in the Lower School at Wheeler are alive with language. In fact, you'll see the signs of literacy developing all around you - literally. In Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten, for example, alphabet charts are displayed on every table, and invented spelling is praised in order to build confidence while we teach letter identification. Walls are decorated with colorful pictures, labeled to reinforce letter sounds and word recognition. Stories are read aloud every day. Starting in Pre-Kindergarten, handwriting is introduced with particular emphasis on posture, hand grip and paper position. Phonemic awareness (breaking down and putting together frequently-used letter combinations) is introduced and continued in the Kindergarten program. Kindergarten students are introduced to Writing Workshop, where they are encouraged to apply, in a more integrated way, the tools and language skills they have been acquiring since Nursery. At every level, language acquisition is celebrated as a dynamic, multi-sensory experience. And from the beginning, the emphasis is on teaching children to think of themselves as competent readers and writers, even before they master the actual skills.
  • Mathematics

    One of our major goals in the Early Childhood program at Wheeler is to create an atmosphere where our youngest students learn to appreciate how math applies to everyday activities. We believe that children best internalize math concepts when they see them at work in real-life applications. In order to complement the Math in Focus program that begins in Pre-Kindergarten and continues through Grade 6, we also use the Big Math for Little Kids program for our youngest students because it too is designed to empower students with more flexible math skills than what is offered by the traditional approach. Using a variety of manipulatives - anything from pasta shells to popcorn to teddy bear counters - students discover that there are often many strategies for solving a problem, one as "right" as another. Teachers encourage children to articulate the process, whether it worked or not. Students soon grow comfortable talking problems through among themselves, learning to succeed together
  • Social and Emotional Development

    Throughout the Early Childhood program, we devote special attention to the child developing within the student we teach. Our students thrive in a truly supportive environment, where teachers are sensitive to the extraordinary range of issues a child may face during these years. Our efforts are focused on helping each child develop both self-awareness and emotional resiliency. We help children develop an emotional vocabulary, so that they can resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. We teach them to share, to take risks, to negotiate, to compromise and to respect each others' differences. This emphasis supports the students' growing independence in an accepting and respectful community.  

    Starting in January of each school year, children in the Early Childhood programs gather together for a playdate on Friday afternoons. Nursery, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten children are placed in mixed age groups, each supervised by two Early Childhood teachers. These groupings give children the opportunity to know and play with older and younger children, become familiar with the other classroom spaces and, most importantly, spend time with the other Early Childhood teachers. 

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