The Amigos Class is for children who have turned 4 years old by September 1st of the school year and is designed to facilitate the junior kindergarten child’s early academic, social-emotional, and creative skills. The class will have a maximum of 16 children and 2 co-teachers.
The class focuses on supporting this age group’s desire to learn and create. The 4 and 5 year old child is one who is constantly striving to know more about themselves, their friends, and the world. Daily experiences are created so that children can construct their own understanding of the world, talk about their understanding of the world with peers and teachers, and practice this understanding in small groups as they look at focused strategies in early literacy and math.
In the Amigos’ class writing, reading, and math experiences are authentic and focused around helping the children build the underlying foundation that set the stage for deep understanding of the subjects. Children build a foundational knowledge in mathematics through building with blocks, creating patterns and sequences, playing with sorting and attributes, learning about and using tools for measuring, data collection, and representation. Children build their understanding of written language by writing and drawing about their investigations and ideas, making notes for friends and family, taking an order in a pretend restaurant, listening to engaging stories, and more.
Every day, the children also visit our large, indoor playground where they are invited to climb, run, slide, swing, and build the gross motor skills that are central to their larger development.
We understand the importance of helping the junior kindergarten children develop a confidence in their abilities as they prepare to leave the preschool setting and move into kindergarten. Children in the Amigos’ classroom learn classroom routines that allow them to take ownership over their day by signing themselves in each morning, helping set the table for meals and serve their own food, helping set up for rest time, taking responsibility for keeping track of their personal belongings, and entering the classrooms with quick and happy goodbyes in the morning.
We believe that a strong foundation in social-emotional skills provides children with long-term success in pursuing later academic content in elementary school and the children in the Amigos’ classroom spend the year learning deeply about emotions and self-regulation. They are guided by a teacher who created a social-emotional curriculum as part of her master’s degree work.
The junior kindergarten program at Creative Scholars is designed to support the child’s intellect, creativity, and ability to work with others that will help them become innovative, considerate, and engaged individuals ready to enter kindergarten with confidence.
Snacks and an organic lunch are included in the cost of tuition.
Hello families! My name is Cara Olansky, CS teacher since 2009. I’m a Chicago transplant from Massachusetts and hold a BA in Theater Performance from Butler University where I also studied art history and creative writing. I relocated to Chicago in 2006, and after working a variety of jobs, I came to the realization that the education field is where I wanted to be. I earned my MS in Early Childhood Education from the Erikson Institute in 2016. While at Erikson, I focused my studies on the social and emotional development of 4 and 5 year olds, and spent my final year researching the ways implementing a socio-dramatic curriculum into the classroom can vastly improve young children’s problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as their developing socialization and their understanding of self-concept and empathy. I put my research to use in the Amigos classroom, where I teach our 4 and 5 year olds. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I also co-coordinate CS’s Visual Arts and Drama programs with my colleague, Charlotte, a teacher in the Shakespeares classroom. Together, we support the rest of the teaching staff in implementing creative movement and theater games, as well as experimentation with different art mediums related to real-life artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Kahlo, Pollack, Warhol, and O’Keeffe (just to name a few!) As a teacher, I strive to create a positive learning environment that values each child as an individual and honors their creativity and personal educational journey. I like to base my teaching philosophy on the idea that the greatest tool processed by the Human Race is our ability to imagine, and I am thrilled to be able to be a part of your child’s discoveries!
The science center in the Amigos’ classroom is designed so that children can construct theories, make observations, and share their ideas and findings. Interesting materials such as ants, worms, and artifacts from the field museum (dinosaur bones are the children’s favorites!) are available for the children to interact with. As they explore the various materials, they record their observations by making drawings and writing notes with their emerging letter-sound awareness. The science center is a place where the children often gather to discuss what they are observing and to make guesses as to why certain materials behave certain ways.
Math in the classroom is hands-on and provides the children with a solid foundation of number sense, measurement, data collection, shapes and patterns, and collections. Children are invited to use tools, such as measuring tapes and rulers, as they measure how far they jump or how high a block tower they build. Children develop the language of math as they discuss who is the tallest in the classroom or the different ways that they can sort a set of objects.
The large rug is used as a gathering space both for the entire class and for small groups of children and teachers. Here, the class gathers to start their day; they share stories and talk about what they are going to do that day. Here, the children work with each other and their teacher to do research into topics they are studying. Here, the class becomes a community of learners with shared interests and empathy.
Within the Amigos’ Classroom, writing is a frequent and authentic occurrence. The children gather in the writing area to write notes and draw pictures for the classmates. They make books about their interests and record observations about topics they are studying. Children are encouraged to write at their individual developmental level and teachers provide support as they show interest and readiness in continuing on the writing continuum.