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Early Learning Center

The St. Thomas School journey begins here, in our Early Learning Center. The ELC is a vibrant school-within-a-school, designed specifically for our youngest learners. The ELC includes:

  • Preschool (2.5 - 4 years of age)
  • PreKindergarten (4 - 5 years of age)
  • Kindergarten (5 - 6 years of age)

We believe the seeds of lifelong learning lie in the wonder that characterizes early childhood. With an approach based on child development and early-learning research, the ELC attends closely to the social-emotional needs of young children while engaging their natural curiosity, creativity, and love of hands-on learning. We strike a balance between teacher-led instruction and child-driven discovery, allowing students to form questions, seek answers, and represent their thinking based on exploration and research.

Our ELC curriculum is distinguished by its alignment with learning theory, clearly defined standards, and an expectation that children of this age are competent and capable. Instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, Spanish, character development, and other subjects begin in Preschool, resulting in levels of student achievement that are often surprising - and always developmentally appropriate. Our student-teacher ratio ensures that every student receives the attention and guidance he or she needs to excel. As an integral part of the rest of the school, ELC students use the library, gymnasium, and other first-rate facilities, reflecting our signature lessons about membership in community.

ELC Programs

2-Day Preschool

Tuesday and Thursday 8:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Children 27 months of age by June 1

The social and emotional domains are a critical focus during these early years. Young children are learning how to behave within their school community and developing confidence and a strong sense of self. Our students are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves by learning to follow routines, and showing respect for teachers and classmates. Cooking, block building, dramatic play, and the arts provide opportunities for children to work side by side with their teacher in a variety of ways. This experiential style of learning helps them make meaning of their world, concentrate on tasks, and persist at challenges.

3-Day Preschool

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Children three years of age by July 31

Students in our 3-Day Preschool participate in learning experiences designed to promote problem-solving, reasoning, and creative thinking. The classroom is a caring community of learners where children feel empowered to make discoveries and share ideas. They learn to assert their own needs and rights, gain access to groups at play and work, take turns, and show interest in others. We value play as an integral approach to building social skills where children have the opportunity to rehearse and practice relationships. Our program supports the development of literacy and mathematical skills. Children play games with language, enjoy age-appropriate literature, and develop understanding of sound-symbol relationships. Block play, games, cooking, and specific math manipulatives reinforce concepts such as numeration, sorting, and patterning.

3-Day Preschool students can extend their day by enrolling in our afternoon Enrichment Program.

5-Day Preschool

Monday - Friday 8:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Children three years of age by July 31

Designed for students who are developmentally ready for an expanded experience, our 5-Day program allows students to explore in greater depth the core learning standards covered in our 3-Day program. Students develop a robust understanding of key concepts with ample opportunity to practice academic and social skills.

5-Day Preschool students can extend their day by enrolling in our afternoon Enrichment Program.

PreKindergarten

Monday - Friday 8:15 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Children four years of age by July 31 that demonstrate readiness for the challenges of PreKindergarten

Built upon students' interests, our PreK curriculum supports their cognitive, physical, lingual, social, and emotional development. Students are formally introduced to the letters of the alphabet, including their associated sounds, and correct handwriting formation. Math concepts, including patterns, sorting and classifying, and graphing, are mastered through purposeful exploration and use of manipulative materials.

PreKindergarten students can extend their day by enrolling in our afternoon Enrichment Program.

Kindergarten


Monday - Friday 8:05 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.
Children five years of age by July 31 that demonstrate readiness for the challenges of Kindergarten

The Kindergarten curriculum combines opportunities to learn through exploration while mastering the academic skills necessary for future success in the elementary years. Reading skills are advanced in class, small group, and individual work where students practice decoding through sound-symbol relationships, rhyming, and sight word vocabulary, while basic elements of writing are introduced in the Kindergarten writer's workshop. The math curriculum emphasizes problem-solving, reasoning, and higher order thinking using manipulatives, pencil and paper tasks, and collaborative work.

Afternoon Enrichment

12 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.
Children enrolled in 3-Day, 5-Day, or PreKindergarten

Children who are enrolled in this afternoon program have the opportunity to delve deeply into a range of enrichment experiences that complement and extend the morning program. Parents have the flexibility to choose which days their children stay for enrichment. Many students stay every afternoon creating a full day program; others opt for two or three afternoons depending on their readiness and their family's schedule.

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