Shady Side Academy's pre-kindergarten program provides a nurturing, child-centered environment for children ages 3-1/2 to 4. The program helps children learn critical social and cognitive skills to build the necessary foundation for lifelong learning. Teachers strive to help students develop a positive self-image, enhanced interpersonal skills and a sense of independence. They offer encouragement and kindness as children begin their educational journey – academically, artistically, physically and socially.
Wisdom Begins as Wonder
To be a child is to view the world through a lens of wonder. It is that very sense of wonder that makes early childhood education so natural and important. Through our team of certified early childhood educators, we nurture this wonder and enthusiasm in a pre-kindergarten program that sparks a love of learning. The program prepares students to transition in one or two years to SSA's kindergarten, creating a base of intellectual and social experiences upon which they can continue to build.
Building a Love of Learning
Our PK program provides a vibrant and strong academic setting for our youngest learners. The interdisciplinary curriculum engages children in hands-on, experiential learning to enhance comprehension and creativity. Math and literacy skills are a constant focus as students begin to develop phonemic awareness, phonics skills, fluency, vocabulary, text comprehension and number sense. Social studies and science themes change each year. Weekly specials include art, library, music, Spanish and physical education. Small class sizes allow teachers to adapt the curriculum to meet individual needs. Teachers have time to explore concepts beyond what is planned in response to children’s natural curiosities. A reading coordinator provides enrichment activities for students who are ready for further challenge.
Play is Purposeful
Play is valued as the mode through which young children learn. Time is dedicated to spontaneous play and building gross motor skills, balanced with playful learning opportunities where lesson plans come alive. Students learn about numbers, letters, colors and language in a way that also teaches socialization, imagination, values and joy. Whether pretending to be ants in a colony or organs in the human body, students play and learn simultaneously. Here, play is as productive as it is fun.
We offer three pre-kindergarten schedule options to allow each family to choose the schedule that best suits their needs:
Full Time – 5 Full Days (8:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m. Monday–Friday)
Part Time – 5 Half Days (8:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Monday–Friday)
Mixed Time – 3 Full Days/2 Half Days or 2 Full Days/3 Half Days
Daily transportation is provided by parents. Lunch may be carried to school or purchased daily.
Free before-school care begins at 7:30 a.m. each day, while the After School Explorers Program runs until 6 p.m.
It is important to us that parents of our youngest students see the joy that happens in our classrooms everyday. The pre-kindergarten teacher pages include a classroom blog that provides a daily glimpse into the life of the PK classrooms. Parents can see photos of activities the students are doing and get a sense of what their child has been learning each day. This enables parents and students to talk about what a child took away from the day and to celebrate their child's growth and development at home as we do every day in the classroom.
Here is some of the supportive feedback we have received from PK parents about the classroom blog.
"Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop with your daily blog this year. It was so lovely to look through it each day with Anna and talk about her day!"
"Thank you so much for keeping us up to date to what the kids having doing during school days. It’s been pleasurable and exciting to see all the pictures and read all the stories"
Because the needs of pre-kindergarten students are unique in their first year at school, they have their own building on campus where everything from art class to nap time takes place. The building, which was expanded in 2014, is specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of young children. Adjacent to the building are the PK outdoor play and learning spaces, including a playground, mud kitchen, art studio, sound garden, sensory garden, gross motor area with tire balance beam and cozy space. PK students also utilize the Junior School gymnasium, library, music room and educational gardens.