Our programming is play- and nature- based, intergenerational, child centered, and Montessori and community inspired. Access to healthy local food and its preparation is an important component of the curriculum along with social justice principles. The Children's Center is a hub for supporting and strengthening families.
We are a 4 STARS (Vermont's quality recognition system) accredited program.
Our Toddler program offers children an environment made just for them with beautiful natural materials that appeal to their senses. It is prepared using a carefully crafted Montessori curriculum which emphasizes child-directed hands-on learning that guides them in their cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. We provide opportunities for children to develop and grow at their own pace, taking advantage of their individual sensitive periods and skill sets. Our “practical life” activities such as vegetable and fruit preparation, dishwashing, and sharing food with friends, give children the rewarding experience of real-life joyful work and accomplishment and helps them in their natural move towards independence. Our mixed age group gives children plenty of exciting opportunities for pretend play, collaboration on tasks, problem solving and peer learning.
We respect the children’s learning and needs, making sure they have tools that are the right size, the time they need to practice the skills they are interested in, a space for concentration and room to explore, play with friends, ask questions etc. We use clear and appropriate language and provide help with socialization, grace and courtesy.
Our Montessori toilet training program is designed so that children can learn toileting in a gradual fashion at their own pace as soon as they are interested. We encourage parents to bring cloth training pants or underpants so that they can feel when they are wet, and so that they can take them on and off themselves and start using the potty on their own whenever they are ready.
18 months to 3 years includes a huge amount of growth and development for humans. We try to give toddlers a place where the can focus on the very important, difficult, playful and joyful task of becoming a running, talking, and happy 3 year old.
The Craftsbury Saplings preschool program offers a thoughtfully prepared learning environment that is rich in materials and experiences that stimulate children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. In our mixed-aged 3-5 year old classroom children are able to choose from various child-directed activities to explore their interests and develop pre-academic skills. We believe in children’s innate wisdom, and so teachers craft an emergent curriculum to support and expand upon children’s knowledge, skills and interests. For example, a teacher may observe a group’s fascination with the story of the three little pigs and choose to set out books and materials for children to explore various construction methods and materials. A class may explore the many tellings of the three little pigs story and then engage in bookmaking to write their own version of the story. Dramatic play would be enriched with materials to support children’s storytelling and exploration of the roles in the story.
At such a young age, learning begins with self and family and expands outward. The Saplings preschool program strives to create windows and mirrors in our curriculum--windows to show children an experience outside of their own, and mirrors to reflect and affirm their lives. We strive to create a classroom that and makes visible, values and validates children of all races, genders, linguistic backgrounds, abilities, family structures and socio-economic backgrounds.
A central pillar of the Saplings' preschool classroom is our focus on community and emotional literacy. Teachers work to make all children feel welcome and model clear communication and boundary setting. We take care of one other, whether by preparing foods for meals and caring for the classroom environment or checking in with children who are hurt, sad, or frustrated. Children at Saplings are given space to feel their feelings and are also asked to be responsible, at a developmentally appropriate level, for the impact of their actions on the community.
We are incredibly grateful for the strong community support that makes programming more affordable and provides program enrichment. At Saplings, community involvement is an important part of the programming. Collaboration with local organizations and community members is a driving force behind this initiative, reflecting the strong community in which it resides. The Saplings preschool program welcomes volunteers and guest teachers to bring skills and experiences to the classroom outside of the skillset of our regular teachers and connect with the broader community. We currently have monthly visits with the elders at the Craftsbury Community Care Center, monthly storytelling circles through the Craftsbury Library and winter time skiing adventures with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Moreover, we welcome parent and community volunteers to our classroom to share their talents and time with the Saplings' students.
Food is not just something at the table at Saplings. Together the children and program staff prepare portions of their meals and eat together, a process inspired by Montessori principles and rooted in the food culture of the area. Kids mix ingredients for bread and press corn tortillas.They chop fruits and vegetables and peel hard-boiled eggs to share at snack. These activities connect kids with their food and with each other.
Our food program serves kid-friendly, nutritious, whole foods made on-site from scratch. With the help of Salvation Farms, we serve donated food from Pete’s Greens and other local farm. We use local seasonal ingredients and whole grains. Each meal meets the dietary needs of our students including Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian, and allergy restrictions. We serve breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack and participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Family Support and Social Network
Each family is a child’s first teacher. We value families as partners in the growth and development of children. We offer a variety of ways in which families can participate in helping us establish and reach our program goals. We encourage parents and other family members to visit children’s classrooms, participate in events, and provide feedback on the program. We host events for families and community members, parenting workshops and trainings, and a variety of presentations and trainings to engage the wider community in important issues affecting young children and families.