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The Preschool at Sustainability Academy

The preschool classroom was opened in September 2011 with funding support from the Vermont Community Preschool Collaborative. The preschool program is a unique collaboration between the Burlington School District, Head Start, and Shelburne Farms that provides young children with developmentally appropriate learning opportunities using the lens of sustainability.  Following best practices in Early Childhood Education and guided by the Vermont Early Learning Standards, the preschool classroom is an inclusive learning environment that provides a play-based curriculum designed to meet the developmental needs of all children.

In preschool, the Big Ideas of Sustainability are explored through an emergent, hands-on curriculum that focuses on Relationships and Connections. At a time when children are developmentally centered in their exploration of self, our essential question is:

“Who am I and Who are You?”

This provides the foundation for children to explore their community and their world and begins the thread of inquiry that will continue in kindergarten and beyond.

We start our year learning about one another in our All About Me unit and then widen our scope as we get to know our school and then our neighborhood community. We discover connections in our daily lives during our Bread unit, when we explore the different kinds of breads we eat, visit neighborhood bakeries and grocery stores, grind grain to make flour, and bake our own breads. In our Fall Seeds unit, children are invited to make connections between the grains we have been grinding and the seeds we discover during “seed walks” in our school neighborhood.  As we move into winter and then spring, field trips to Shelburne Farms support ongoing inquiry into the connection between seasonal changes and changes in animal and human behavior. Explorations of the school, the neighborhood, and our visits to Shelburne Farms are intentionally designed to support our curriculum and help children develop a sense of place and cultivate connections to their community.

Throughout the year, children are supported in exploring connections between their home and school lives. Recognition of the diversity and primacy of children’s family relationships is embedded in all our learning. All preschool families are welcomed to the classroom as vital partners and members of our learning community.