A child's previous experiences determine the starting point when he or she comes to school. Children' skills are measured when they enter our program using a developmental assessment such as the Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development. We are interested in determining whether each child is following typical levels of development. Our curriculum is developed on a continuum. It allows each child to enter based on what he knows already and to advance at his own rate. Later in the year, around May the children's skills are measured again to see how much progress they have made. Our teachers use positive teaching techniques. Praise and attention are provided when the children do good work and when they are well behaved. At times stickers or stars are used to motivate the children and reinforce appropriate behavior. We believe children learn most when they experience success within a positive environment. At the Learning Village, we work continually to provide the best environment possible for a child's development.

The Learning Village is modeled after a child development program located at the University of Kansas and supervised by Marion O'Brien, Jan Porterfield, Emily Herbert Jackson and Todd Risley. Their book, "A Toddler Center" described their day care center developed over a 6 year period with empirical research into the management, teaching techniques, care routines, environmental design and instructional materials. We use and have adapted as many of their procedures as possible.

At the Tustin Learning Village we take particular attention to their notion of a center approach, dividing the school into different areas: Art, Academics, Creative Movement, Dramatic and Construction Toy Play, Outdoor Activities, and so on. Each group of children have a schedule of activities each day where they spend 20 to 30 minutes in each center. After each period, children rotate to the next center depending on their schedule. Children are grouped according to age and are assigned to a Head Teacher for their age group.

The children move throughout the entire school and do not remain in self-contained classrooms. We have found that this approach promotes the child's participation in a wide variety of activities and reduces boredom. It also promotes well-organized and stimulating lesson plans by the teachers.

Interspersed among the teacher-directed activities is free play time. Outdoor play on the playground is with equipment chosen especially for the young child. Children may play on their own or chose to take part in special teacher directed activities such as bubble making, water play, or ball games. To promote safety, children are scheduled outdoors according to their age groups. Indoors the free play area is designed to encourage a variety of play activities such as play with dolls and household items, play with construction toys, play with manipulatives, play with large motor skills, reading and listening activities, and make-believe play.

Preschoolers are taught also the basics of home and school life such as playing cooperatively, following directions, interacting in group activities, academic readiness skills, manners, and self-care.

Each year your child will be assessed using an appropriate child development scale for your child's age group. The purpose of the assessment is to obtain a baseline measure of your child's development and track his or her progress at the Learning Village. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled each year to discuss your child's progress and activities at school. The Director will be happy to discuss the schedule of assessments and conferences for your child's age group.

We welcome parent participation and we want you to feel free to visit whenever you wish. If you have a special talent or have something special to share with the children please tell us so we can include your visit in the daily schedule. Usually the best time to visit is a time when you can take your child home with you when you leave. However, you can come and visit unannounced at any time. We will post sign up sheets when parent volunteers are needed for parties or field trips. On these occasions, parents can volunteer either by assisting at the school or by helping with the activities at home e.g. baking or making decorations.

Tustin School