As children enter the Explorer classroom at four years of age, they are beginning to shift from the typical egocentrism found in younger children to the ability to understand the perspectives of others. Explorers are also celebrating increased independence that goes along with their growing repertoire of skills, expressive language and cognitive power. A classroom goal for this developmental stage is to extend the children's awareness of both individuality and cooperative learning. Therefore, the curriculum places an emphasis on self-expression, confidence building and cooperation.
Positive self-esteem is essential so that Explorers may explore their school environment and feel comfortable taking risks cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically. Self-esteem is fostered by giving responsibilities and opportunities to exhibit the children's expertise.
Children are emergent readers when they enter the Explorer Room and are beginning to recognize the conventions of print. They understand that print in the environment conveys a message and are exposed to print throughout the day. "Shared Reading" is teacher directed and often involves a predictable and/or repetitive book in which the children help "read." Along with the conventional yet constantly changing center choices of art, block building, dramatic play, and sensory, many centers are carefully chosen and designed to support a child's budding pre-math and language development.
The Explorer year is filled with learning opportunities for growth in all areas of development. It is a year in which children begin to reach out beyond their immediate context into the larger community of the school and its surroundings. Explorers learn to extend the horizons of their skills and generalize them to new situations as they explore through self-expression, confidence building and cooperation.
The Explorer age is about 4 years old as of September 1st and consists of a student teacher ratio of approximately 16 to 2.