Why Play-Based?

discover_teethWhy a play-based preschool? There are many options for preschool. The information on this page is designed to help you learn more about play-based preschool as you decide what type of program is best suited for your child and your family.

At Paddington, all children begin the day with choice time. This free playtime allows them to choose any activity that is offered in the classroom . Paddington teachers act as facilitators in the classroom, supporting children’s play. Children learn through play and all subjects (Play, Social Emotional, Physical – Fine Motor & Gross Motor, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies, Creative and English Language Acquisition) are woven into the day through integrated curriculums.

Our school is child-centered, which is demonstrated inside and outside the classroom. We use developmentally appropriate practices and consider the age and stage of each child before planning any activity. At Paddington, the process is valued over the product and we encourage children to dive in and get messy. Paddington is a joyful learning environment within a nurturing community of teachers and families. We encourage children to take risks and try things that make them reach just outside their comfort zone and we encourage them to go to the next level of learning to further their understanding of the world.

Read on to learn more about how play-based learning “looks” for each age and stage at Paddington and scroll to the bottom of this page for further research on the play-based preschool philosophy.


Our Play-based Creative Explorations Program (Under Two/Parent-Tot):
Creative Explorations is a program designed for toddlers and a caregiver (mom, dad, nanny, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends). This one-morning-a-week program introduces your toddler (twelve-months to twenty-three months) to preschool at Paddington Station.

During the school day, your child will have the opportunity to explore and learn while playing in the classroom, on an age-appropriate playground or in the Paddington Big Room (indoor gymnasium). Throughout the school year, your child will be exposed to a variety of theme-based units. Within these units you and your child will explore art activities, sensory experiences, songs and quality literature. Paddington Station Preschool places emphasis on social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative development in this program.

Adults are provided with a supportive, nurturing, and educational environment. You will be given an opportunity to discuss childhood growth and development, as well as share the joys and hurdles of parenthood and caregiving. The teacher will provide articles, book ideas and fun things to do at home to enrich your experience with your child. This class gives children and their families an introduction to all that is Paddington. Prepare to get messy and have fun together!



Our Play-based Two-Year-Old Classrooms:
Even before the children walk into the classroom, the environment is considered and prepared with two-year-olds in mind. We have many cars for driving, many spatulas for flipping play dough and many babies to wash in the water table. Teachers always say, “There’s enough for everyone.”

A typical day consists of choice time, clean -up, circle time, snack time, outside time and a goodbye circle. In our part time two-year-old classes, adult family members or caregivers come to class on a rotating basis and provide snack and a drink to share with all. This ‘special day’ is beloved by children and their grown-ups. The adult stays in the classroom and is the ‘helper.’ He or she supports the teacher by participating in the day’s activities. Helpers get to know all the children in the class as a vital part of the two-year-old program!

Our two-year-old program is often the first school experience for many children. We give them the time they need to warm up to their classroom, teachers and new classmates. We know this is a time of transition and that separation can be a difficult process for both parents and children alike. We are here to support you with the process. Children are encouraged to bring a comfort item to school and we plan home visits for all children new to Paddington. Just prior to the first day of school, children are invited to visit their classroom and attend a class social for the entire family. By the time school begins, it our hope that families and children are comfortable with the school setting. Children learn what it means to go to school, the daily routine in a classroom and how to cultivate new friendships!



Our Play-based Three-Year-Old Classrooms:
Our three-year-old program is an engaging hands-on experience. Many three-year-olds know what school is all about and they are happy to dive right into the school routine. They greet each day with joy and curiosity as their sense of independence grows. They come in each day asking a million questions as they try to figure out their world. Our teachers are skilled at encouraging children to think for themselves.

Curriculum units are derived from the children’s interests and can last as short or as long as the children remain engaged. Three-year-olds are beginning to learn about teamwork, cooperation, and friendships.

Three-year-olds are introduced to shared experience time during which all children work on a similar project or skill. Language begins to broaden as new words are learned and ‘tried on for size’. Three-year-olds are naturally drawn to the writing table with a multitude of different writing instruments from markers and crayons to scissors and colored pencils. Math begins to intrigue three-year-olds, and they start to count everything in their world. Charting and graphing eye color or ‘favorite kind of apple’ are some examples of how we use meaningful contexts to teach children about math.



Our Play-based Four-Year-Old Classrooms (PreK):
PreK classes at Paddington continue to follow a play-based philosophy. Children explore and learn through play during choice time. Students always have time to play in the dramatic play area, the block areas, and often incorporate math, literacy, art, science and sensory activities into their experience. PreK classes at Paddington include emerging literacy into the day through song, rhyme, and alphabet exploration.

Classes also incorporate a more structured shared experience time, during which students work together in small or whole-group settings. Shared experience is typically a more guided work time for students. This PreK year is filled with fun and play as they begin to prepare for Kindergarten.

Children are recognizing letters and are beginning to write their names. They use emerging language skills to draw letters in salt, sand and shaving cream, learning letters within a meaningful context. Four-year-olds are exposed to a variety of quality children’s literature on a daily basis through rich author studies and integrated units. Pre-K math includes learning number sense, counting, basic geometry (shapes) and patterns.



Our Play-based Kindergarten:
Kindergarten at Paddington Station is a classroom that combines learning-through-play and an integrated curriculum that follows the British Primary Model. Thematic units are thoughtfully prepared to weave in all learning areas, while incorporating Colorado Content Standards.

Children are taught to think deeply and are encouraged to ask questions. Instruction is differentiated in each subject to serve the needs of all children. Hands-on learning, social and peer collaborative work and lots of movement are a must! Families are involved in their child’s education and are continually informed on classroom activities through weekly updates. Children are prepared for first grade through math, science, reading, phonics, and a writing curriculum. We spend quality time in kindergarten focusing on the social and emotional needs and development of each child. Kindergarten at Paddington is where learning feels like play!


Articles of interest pertaining to the playbased philosphy: