The Early Childhood Education curriculum at Agnes Irwin is rooted in girl-centered research and developed through the lens of how young girls learn best, every step of the way.
Agnes Irwin's early childhood education program is led by professionals who use their training, expertise, and years of experience to create a high-quality learning environment for girls and their parents. Our program is designed around current research about what makes for a strong early childhood classroom, and grounded in developmentally-appropriate practices. Teachers know the importance of observing and documenting each child's learning, and regularly communicate with parents to share milestones and developmental progress.
You'll find our youngest students designing and prototyping inventions that solve problems for nursery rhyme characters. Writing narratives and how-to books during Writers Workshop. Learning to code during "Genius Hour" in our iWonder Lab. And performing a musical for the entire Lower School.
We take academics seriously — and have fun doing it. Beginning in PreK, students take part in daily Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and Spanish lessons that incorporate a variety of learning styles and "hands-on, minds-on" activities. Weekly specials offer girls the opportunity to exercise their bodies, voices, and brains.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Music: 2x week
- P.E.: 3x week
- Art: 2x week
- Library: 1x week
- STEAM: Varies
The early childhood program at AIS teaches girls to be girls. They are helped to take risks in a safe place, they are taught to learn from their mistakes, and they learn how to be a friend to everyone.
Parent of three current students
Our PreK is a full-day program that enables preschoolers to enjoy developmentally-appropriate activities while mastering knowledge and skills needed for success in kindergarten. With a classroom designed especially for them, PreK girls enjoy a separate entrance, large low windows and outdoor grassy areas for water and sand play. The environment encourages the girls to engage in imaginative play, alone and with others. Decisions about curriculum, routines and schedules reflect an understanding of how little girls learn and grow. Integrated themes are selected to introduce ideas and permit exploration of the girls' own interests.
The PreK playground provides an enclosed space for active play such as riding bikes, climbing, running, gardening, digging in the sand, swinging and games. The area also serves as an outdoor classroom where the girls are able to explore and learn about the natural world, grow plants, make observations and conduct science experiments.
Kathy Seaton, who has more than 40 years of teaching experience, has taught PreK at Agnes Irwin since the program's inception.
Agnes Irwin's PreK classroom has two teachers and an average class size of about 12 girls, allowing for personalized attention.
Throughout the day, the kindergarten girls are learning by doing. They experience an integrated balance of academic challenge and social skill development with gentle support from their teachers. The kindergarten teachers value the benefits of outdoor play time when the girls have the freedom to socialize with their classmates while the exercise helps to develop their gross motor skills. Kindergarten girls spend time every day appreciating each others’ strengths while celebrating similarities and differences. Our caring environment fosters kindness and respect toward everyone in our school community. The “Let’s Care” program supplements these important life skills.
There's more to play than meets the eye.
Research shows that play is critical to a child's learning, growth, and later achievement — especially when that playtime is sustained and includes teacher participation and interaction. High-level, sustained play helps girls cultivate the ability to regulate their emotions, behavior and impulses, as well as develop effective social, language and cognitive skills.
Our classes balance academic, teacher-directed activities with structured and unstructured student-driven time. During play time, girls are free to set their own pace and make their own choices under the observation of their teachers, who may ask questions or make comments with the goal of expanding ideas, deepening involvement, or encouraging peers to join an activity. Much is learned about each student’s interests, personal development and skill levels through questions and observations like these, and teachers adapt classroom instruction accordingly.
So whether when they’re painting at easels, inspecting a bird’s nest, reading 1:1 with a teacher, cooking dinner in a play kitchen, or building the world’s tallest block tower, our PreKindergarten and Kindergarten students are learning. Problem solving. Expanding their vocabulary. Thinking critically. Exploring. And having fun.
Students' ability to set their own pace and make their own choices under the observation of their teachers is one aspect of a sophisticated teaching approach known as developmentally appropriate practice, or DAP.
What we loved most as we started the program was that our daughter was happy to go to school.
Agnes Irwin parent (whose daughter is now in Middle School)