Is This Curriculum the Secret to This Preschool’s Dynamite Success?
Enter a school renowned for its early childhood education during a sensory lesson, and you might expect to see construction paper, glue sticks, and uninterested children. But enter The Malvern School, and you’re acquainted with quite a different setting: children learning on a “light cube.” It’s a sensory lesson nonetheless, but this activity allows them to add different colors together to see which hues they create when combined. These preschool-age children are not only learning about color mixing, but also math and experiment execution. The best part? They’re loving every second of it.
The Malvern School is an innovative private preschool that serves children from 6 weeks to 8 years old. It is designed to meet the standard of the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the country’s largest early childhood accrediting organization. The school has 24 thriving locations, 13 that are accredited by NAEYC, that all utilize a unique curriculum that sets children up for success.
“Some schools have a pre-purchased curriculum that they need to follow, and we do not,” said Christle Seal, Program Operations Manager at The Malvern School. “Our curriculum is based on the needs of the individual children.” The teachers all have extensive [training in early childhood education], allowing them to help the children and keep them challenged, she added. Plus, teachers are encouraged to follow a fluid curriculum, making it stand out among other schools.
“I think this open framework gives teachers the opportunity to look in every developmental area at what skills each child needs to learn, what interests them, and how to teach them in a hands-on way,” Seal said. She adds that the teachers are able to customize what they teach on a day-to-day basis. “As educators we know that we’ll start a lesson and we’ll need to adjust given the attention span of the children and the questions they may ask.” For example, a shorter lesson could turn into a day’s exploration into a more specific topic.
Additionally, the faculty at The Malvern School aim to stay cutting-edge in all of their practices, making sure the latest research is taken into account when developing curriculum.
“There is a lot of work on critical thinking skills and making sure our children are prepared to be 21st century learners,” Seal said.
One way this holistic, innovative curriculum is implemented is through the STEAM program, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. As opposed to other private preschools, STEAM begins early in the educational process (remember: The Malvern School serves children from 6 weeks to 8 years old)—a groundbreaking initiative in its own right. Every day during the school year, The Malvern School students have the opportunity to link different lessons from a variety of subjects, fostering an interdisciplinary education.
In addition to the STEAM program, early literacy is another initiative at The Malvern School. Based on the 1991 radio program, “Mrs. Bush’s Story Time” in which first lady Barbara Bush encouraged families to read with their children, The Malvern School has developed activities to go along with the children’s books that were part of the original radio program, making these early literacy programs robust and engaging—even for the youngest of learners.
Learning by Doing
You won’t see a single worksheet in a Malvern School classroom, either. Seal says that there is an emphasis on hands-on learning.
“They do not need to sit and memorize things, they’re learning by doing,” Seal said.
“In addition, each month we’re focusing on different character values,” she continues. “The children are introduced to many pro-social skills.” They work on skills like manners and public speaking.
From the feedback they’ve received from their Pre-Kindergarten parents, Seal says that they can tell that The Malvern School children are ready for the next step.
“We often hear back that they are some of the best-prepared students,” Seal said. “When they enter elementary school they are completely ready for the next setting, which is perfect.”
At the end of the day, children at The Malvern School are learning in a way that is effective for them. They are also learning to enjoy school.
“It’s really setting the foundation that learning can be fun and it’s interesting and that the children should always be the focus, first and foremost,” Seal said.This is a paid partnership between The Malvern School and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio