Fledglings Nature-Based Preschool: Learning through Nature
At Prescott Farm, we know the learning that happens during the preschool years is crucial to the development of the mind, body, and sense of self. Science has shown that being immersed in nature from a young age yields huge benefits in long-term development.
Fully licensed in New Hampshire, Fledglings Nature-Based Preschool uses the Prescott Farm property as the backdrop for introducing social skills, fine and gross motor skills, reading and writing readiness, and other foundational learning to students. Through the fields and the forests, our experienced Fledglings staff facilitate exploration and activities that encourage students ages 3-5 years old to become life-long learners, creating meaningful connections to nature, the self and others.
For more information about the preschool or to schedule a visit to our classroom (September – May), please contact the Preschool Director & Lead Teacher, Jayne Hastings at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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How can we help with writing skills? (Fine motor)
This alone will not refine those writing movements so it is also important to incorporate activities which will strengthen those small finger muscles without asking a young child to write, write, write. When a child has difficulty doing a certain task, the solution is NOT to ask them to do it more. A very young should not be the least bit interested in writing nor be asked to do so. They should simply be exposed to it to spark an interest.
When we see a child who is older and one who “should” be more interested in writing activities but is not, it is often because they find it to be a difficult task motor-wise. Their hands get tired. They can’t form letters or numbers or shapes like their friends can. They get discouraged and just refuse. When they try to write, often what you see on the paper is very light and thin and hard to see. This is because they do not have strong control of the writing utensil.
Here are some very simple (and fun!) activities to build fine motor skills:
- MEMORY CARD GAMES: Picture cards or a regular deck of playing cards face down, take turns flipping them over to find a match. Yes….flipping cards over is the muscle motor skill that does the trick!
- WORKING WITH CLAY: Playdough is acceptable but harder, Potter’s clay will strengthen those hand muscles more readily.
- PLAY DOUGH WITH A TWIST: You can use clay instead of play dough (probably better). Hide marbles or rocks, or small “treasures” in the clay (embed them into a ball of dough). You can hide 5-10 marbles in the ball of clay and ask your child, how many can you find in here? Can you get them out? Or make two balls of clay with the same number of objects in them and have it be a race between the two of you.
- SPEAKING OF RACES…: Get two dishtowels (towels that size) one for each “competitor.” Lay each one flat on the table with the edge of the towel lined up on the edge of the table. At the word “go”…. each player will use only their fingers to scrunch up the towel into a long roll in front of them, gathering it as you go – your fingers pulling it toward you like a crawling spider.
- HEADS OR TAILS?: Show your child there is a head and tail to a coin. After you examine and have fun seeing what else in on the coin, sprinkle the coins from your piggy bank out on the table or floor. Then see if the child can flip all the coins to heads before the timer goes off. Extension #1: Flip them all back to tails before the timer goes off. Extension #2: Spilt the group of coins into two groups. At “go”… two people flip them all to heads (or tails) and who ever finishes first is the winner.
- PICK ‘EM UP: Pick up small objects on the table or floor. Pennies are great but you can use beans or small beads also. Have a competition – how many can you pick up using one hand? Storing the ones already picked up in the same hand? Grown-ups do this task with ease, but children require great strength to pick up and hold and pick up more and hold.
- CLOTHESPIN ACTIVITIES: Using the clothespins with springs in them, have your child hang out clothes, or clip clothespins on the edge of a paper plate or onto the edge of a towel hanging in the bathroom. This pinching action is great for fine motor refinement and it just might help with chores!
- STRINGING BEADS AND LACING: Any time a child has to carefully string a thread through a small hole, it takes great dexterity, small muscle movements, and patience. The finished product might be a necklace or a laced up shoe!
- SPINNING TOPS: This is a very favorite fun activity to do which your child will only see as fun. Get some small tops that can be spun with one hand. The twisting motion between the thumb and forefinger is a great strengthening activity.
- ETCH-A-SKETCH: These are absolutely the best! Fun. Satisfying. Intriguing. Creative. And huge for fine motor practice!
- SPINNERS: Find a game that has a spinner. The action of the hand and fingers to successfully make a spinner spin around for a game is another awesome fine motor practice activity.
- ANYTHING WITH RESISTANCE AND PINCHING…. Tweezers, clothespins, eyedroppers….
- EXTRA FUN ONE FOR LETTER RECOGNITION TOO! Bath time? Soap up your child’s back and write a letter or a number on it. Can they tell you what letter/number it was? You can do this without the bathtub and without soap of course, but it’s so much more fun that way! Great because they have to visualize and feel what is being drawn on their back!
ADDITIONAL FINE MOTOR RESOURCES:
Should I worry about how he/she is pronouncing words?
Early, middle and later speech sounds
This helps us think about the order that children learn to say speech sounds.
- Early (18 months – 3 yrs): M, n, y, b, w, d, p, h
- Middle (2 – 6 yrs): T, ng (as in “talking”), k, g, f, v, ch, j
- Later (3 – 8 yrs): Sh, zh (as in “measure”), l, r, s, z, th (as in “think”), th (as in “that”)
Speech sounds develop from the time the child starts using words until the early years at school. Although the age range extends to 8 years, most children will be using these sounds earlier than that. (Based on Shriberg, 1993 – See resources, below).
Children’s speech generally gets easier to understand as they get older. Here’s a guide:
- By 2 years of age children can be understood by familiar adults most of the time
- By 3 years of age children can be understood by unfamiliar adults most of the time
- By 4 years of age children can be understood by unfamiliar adults almost all of the time
- By 5 years of age children can be understood by unfamiliar adults all of the time
(Based on Flipsen Jr, 2006 – See resources, below).
- Show your child that you are interested in what they say, not how they say it
- Help your child to learn how to say tricky sounds by repeating them correctly as naturally as possible; for example, child says “bish” and you say “yes, it’s a big fish, isn’t it?”
- Get face to face with your child so that they can watch the way you say words
ADDITIONAL SPEECH DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES:
Shriberg, L.D. (1993). Four new speech and prosody-voice measures for genetics research and other studies in developmental phonological disorders. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, (36), 105-140.
Flipsen, P., Jr (2006). Measuring the speech intelligibility of conversational speech in children. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, (20) 4, 303-312.
- Kindergarten as a State Law in New Hampshire – Effective with the 2010-2011 school years, every public school district in New Hampshire is required to offer a minimum of a half-day Kindergarten program. The cut-off enrollment date is set locally by each district. In addition, each community decides if it will offer a full day or half-day educational program. The state adequacy formula for funding Kindergarten states that no kindergarten pupil shall count as more than ½ day attendance per calendar year (RSA 198:38 I.) Therefore, regardless of the local decision to offer a full or half-day program, the State pays for half-day. Kindergarten programs are to immediately precede other elementary grades and be designed primarily for five year olds.
- Compulsory Attendance in New Hampshire begins at age 6 – RSA 193:1 – Duty of Parent; Compulsory Attendance by Pupil. – A parent of any child at least 6 years of age and under 18 years of age shall cause such child to attend the public school to which the child is assigned in the child’s resident district. Such child shall attend full time when such school is in session unless: attending another public school outside the district, receiving a home education (RSA 193-A), the district superintendent has excused a child for extenuating circumstances, the child is attending public or private school located in another state, exempt due to RSA 193:5, and other reasons exceeding the developmentally appropriate norms of Kindergarten such as achieving a GED and other advancements. A child who reaches the sixth birthday after September 30 shall not be required to attend school under the provisions of this section until the following school year.
- Kindergarten Enrollment, Redshirting and the Reality in New Hampshire – The intentional practice of allowing children an extra year of maturity by “holding back” at age five, or redshirting, often backfires in New Hampshire because of the way our laws are constructed. New Hampshire law intentionally requires districts to offer a minimum of half-day Kindergarten for five year olds. Attendance laws intentionally allow parents to “opt out” of public Kindergarten programs and begin compulsory education at age six, full day, first grade. Because many are unfamiliar with the regulations, they are surprised to discover their local schools requiring a youngster who turns six before September 30th, and has never attended Kindergarten, to be enrolled in first grade. This is correct according to state law. The only option a principal may have for a full day public program, according to state law, is if the district offers full day Kindergarten. Then, according to state law, compulsory education full time at age six can be achieved in a full day Kindergarten program. The advantage parents seek by giving a youngster time to mature is often met with confusion, misunderstanding and dismay. Building administrators who seek to provide the best educational experience for a child are bound to uphold our State laws.
- Kindergarten Enrollment: Awareness, Best Practice; Recommendations for Districts, Parents and Communities – All districts are encouraged to conduct a Kindergarten policy audit to align their current practices with the new regulations. Kindergarten enrollment policy should include readiness criteria, screening tools, cut off dates, and a clear process for individual consideration, exceptions and appeals. Policy should consider 21st Century family life and the optimal educational experience for children who have attended full day programs for several years in advance of public education. Districts are encouraged to communicate their local policies to child care programs in their area for increased community awareness amongst parents who are unfamiliar with public education rules and procedures. This is especially important for first time parents to local districts and currently enrolled children with younger siblings whose parents had a different experience with their first child due to different laws. Current Kindergarten enrollment cut-off dates in New Hampshire range from August 15th – December 31st. Parents, child care providers and service providers in early childhood are encouraged to make contact with local SAU offices for information on current Kindergarten enrollment practices, including the offering of half-day or full day programming. These decisions vary greatly in New Hampshire and from year to year based on budgets and enrollment. All private and public providers for young children are encouraged to update their practical information regarding local Kindergarten policies annually, in order to continuously meet the needs of young children, without shock or disappointment…because things do change.
From the NH Department of Education