Orientation provides toddlers the opportunity to make a gentle transition from the home to a small nurturing classroom environment. Initially, both the child and the parent are welcomed into the classroom as they begin to form a trusting relationship with the teacher. The classroom itself is a specially designed space, where indoors and outdoors are closely linked, and where children are sensitively guided to work on and master the many developmental tasks corresponding to their age, while teachers simultaneously observe their individual needs and interests.
Our faculty in the Orientation program model social graces, courtesies, and offer social “coaching.” In this way, children learn to interact in a positive way with their peers. The teachers also validate the child’s varied emotions and feelings, providing him or her with the basis for self-knowledge and an understanding of others.
The Orientation class is rich in opportunities, both indoors and out, that promote the young child’s physical development. He or she can participate in a range of activities, from the simple tasks of maneuvering in the environment to those that require a greater degree of ability, such as setting the table, working in the garden, or playing on the outdoor climbing structure.
Respect is the underlying theme that occurs at St. Stephen’s. Even at this early age, children learn to respect and value others as they are introduced to world traditions and a sense of community. They begin to develop an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world as well. Learning is an integral part of all tasks and routines in the Orientation class. The richness of the experiences and the security inherent in this environment help the children begin to achieve autonomy and develop a healthy sense of will.