Preschool Profile: Magical Garden Preschool in Corte Madera
January 30, 2012Posted by pamela |
Corte Madera's Magical Garden Preschool is a small preschool that offers a Waldorf-inspired curriculum in the warmth of a home setting. We asked Magical Garden's owner and teacher, Lori Callies, to tell us more about her school, its programs, and what makes it special.
You can learn about Magical Garden Preschool online at www.magicalgardenpreschool.com or by calling (415) 945-9409,
Please describe your school's educational philosophy. What's it all about?
Magical Garden’s philosophy takes root in the Waldorf movement and expands into best practices of early childhood education with a university-trained, credentialed teacher. We believe that the foundations of childhood are Imaginations, Friendships and Early Skills. We address age-appropriate skills through the relentless joy that Pretending can bring. Eco-education is embedded in our curriculum. We are proud to be certified as the first Eco-Healthy Preschool & Child Care in Marin by the Children’s Environmental Health Network.
What does a typical day at your school entail?
Our day begins and ends with families holding hands and singing, the greeting circle or the good-bye. It’s a very personal and uplifting way to engage with each other. Each child is supported by the group of parents and sees directly that each child’s presence or absence is felt. Most people who are considering home-based preschools such as Magical Garden are looking for this kind of nurturing for their child.
Our two teacher-led imaginative times are circletime and storytime. Circletime is seasonal in content, layered with musical, physical and language skills. Storytime is cozy time, either with our blankets and pillows to hear a story or book, or seated in chairs to see a puppet show. We act out some stories with simple costumes.
In between we have two play times, one indoor and one outdoor with a variety of open-ended toys. Each day the playroom becomes a train station, café, castle, neighborhood, etc. The children might dress up, build with blocks or dolls within that context. We play outside in all kinds of weather. Children play in the sandbox, swing, grassy area, playhouse, with outdoor toys. We take nature walks each week.
The teacher’s role during these playtimes is to facilitate deeper play: helping to give words for dramatic play, negotiating, adding props to make their stories more complex. Outside, she teaches native plants, proper use of tools, etc. Our teacher offers a group or individual project daily. In a mixed-age group, this means both sensory play with homemade playdough and building a table with hammers and saws. We provide one organic family-style, warm snack. Homemade applesauce, chicken soup with rice, and hot cereal with maple syrup are standard winter fare. Lunch is brought from home.
- 9 am: Family Circle, Children’s Circletime
- 9:20 am: Free Play Indoors
- 9:45 am: Teacher-Led Fine Motor Activity
- 10:30 am: Snack
- 10:50 am: Outdoor Play
- 11:30 am: Teacher-Led Activity Offered
- 12:10 pm: Storytime
- 12:30 pm: Lunch
- 1 pm: Good-bye song. Aftercare until 3:30 pm
What programs does your school offer?
We have a specialist, Assja Stefanek, once per week teach a Eurythmy movement class. Other activities that are part of our regular day are: composting, cooking, rabbit care, science, music time with instruments.
We have seasonal events to bring families together: Halloween Parade, Family Soup Night, Ice Castle Construction, and a May Pole Dance. Summers, we offer our popular Fairy Camp, with separate sessions for ages 3–12. This is an old-fashioned, neighborhood camp, somewhat like going to your auntie’s house, where she throws a fairy-themed party every day for 6 weeks. (Fairy Camp registration begins Feb 1st. Contact us at email@example.com to get on the email list.)
What is the process for admission?
The process for admission begins with a conversation, via phone or in person, to see if our program is a match for a family’s needs. Next, a visit is scheduled for the parents to bring their child and join a part of our day. After this visit, parents are given applications, further details about our program and other parent’s contacts. Families are invited for subsequent visits to experience all parts of our day. We want parents to feel confident in their decision to send their child to Magical Garden.
How many students does your school have?
We accept 6 children per day into Magical Garden from ages 2.5-5 years, the average age is 3. Families choose their own schedule, in 2, 3, or 4 day programs. Each day is a slight variation of grouping, adding consistency and interest to the group dynamics. In this small environment, there are ample opportunities to practice social skills on a meaningful, positive level. The children become very close.
What makes your school special?
We love to pretend! Research validates that: a trained, educated, caring teacher makes huge difference in children’s gains; that imaginative, social play enhances mental health, motor skills, general knowledge, vocabulary development, and cognitive development, to name a few!
Our teacher makes Magical Garden Preschool special. Lori has a special rapport with children, and an ability to make “work” seem like “play”. Imagine your favorite auntie, always ready to don a shimmery cape and pretend with you until you are full of magic for the day. That auntie is Teacher Lori, and when you are a part of Magical Garden Preschool, you are magical too!
Photos courtesy Magical Garden Preschool