For the last 5 years, 100% of our parents’ survey responses indicate they would recommend Westminster to their friends. One parent wrote, “Westminster is the best preschool in Austin. Having our four children at Westminster over eleven years has taught us to be better parents, volunteers, and lunch makers. Our children have learned to have good manners, eat healthy, play hard, discover, recognize letters and sounds, count numbers, save water, make friends, recognize butterfly eggs, enjoy music, swing high, get dirty, and love learning!”
Through a caring, loving, and stimulating environment, children have the opportunity for perceptual development. Early in children’s lives they begin to learn about the world through their five senses: vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. An environment rich in varied materials and experiences stimulates this perceptual growth.
Language skills figure prominently in intellectual development. In a rich, verbal environment, the child’s vocabulary grows, and the ability to use sentences develops. As they become more skilled with words, they learn to put their emotions and intentions into language. They begin to compare and to differentiate and to express abstract ideas. They use words as tools of thought.
Westminster understands the child’s innate drive to learn, to explore, to fill the developing brain’s urgent needs for sensory stimuli, and to satisfy this need through learning experiences. Westminster tries to fulfill this goal by:
- Offering daily literacy resources. Research tells us the best way for children to get ready to read is to be read to, and to answer questions about what is being read.
- Offering math experiences and quantitative skill practices including counting, sorting, graphing, patterning, and building.
- Encouraging games of fantasy and role-playing.
- Providing art media, music, and movement opportunities.
- Sharpening the child’s abilities to observe, be attentive, follow directions, and communicate all while keeping a sense of wonder.
We celebrate children’s uniqueness. As educators, we want them to be affirmed in their individuality and encouraged to pursue their passions and interests and to cultivate their gifts.
Westminster Presbyterian Day School introduces the child to a new and different world, which results in learning to adjust and conform to others as well as maintaining one’s own freedom as an individual in a group. Westminster Presbyterian Day School helps the child to adjust socially by:
- Encouraging certain behavioral responses and personal characteristics while discouraging others.
- Providing the teacher as a role model for imitation and identification.
- Encouraging the child to interact with others and to form friendships.
- Encouraging the enjoyment of work and play with others.
- Encouraging growth in independence, self-confidence, and self-control.
To help the child grow physically, Westminster provides a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for experimenting and learning. Time is spent each day with activities that promote the development of both fine motor and gross motor skills. The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous outdoor play each day and each class spends a minimum of 120 minutes outdoors, weather permitting.
Tools and equipment used by the child:
- Playground apparatus for large muscle development: climbing, swinging, riding, and balancing.
- Wheel toys; sand and shovels; loose parts such as logs, planks, building blocks, tires, and river stones for large motor coordination.
- Water sluice, water pump, and sensory tables for water and sensory play.
- Accessories to use with block structures in imaginative play.
- Housekeeping materials and furnishings for playing house and dramatic play.
- Puzzles and manipulative toys for eye-hand coordination.
- Art supplies, picture books, and simple musical instruments for expressive play and small muscle development.
Tools used by the teacher:
- Alternating between quiet and active experiences.
- Promoting desirable health habits.
- Following simple safety rules.
- Learning to experience the environment through all the senses.
Big Body and Adventure Play:
WPDS recognizes the immense value of adventure and risky play in supporting the health, wellbeing, and development of young children. Adventure and risky play are a natural part of childhood and afford children opportunities to challenge themselves, evaluate their limits, explore boundaries, and learn their bodily powers. In addition, adventure play builds resilience, strong healthy minds and bodies and supports social and emotional health. With these benefits in child development in mind, our program philosophy encourages and supports children’s adventure play. This is achieved by providing children opportunities to access risks and manage situations appropriately through an environment that provides open-ended, dynamic, stimulating, and challenging learning opportunities for all children. Our educators continually monitor children’s activity to determine the possible risks and make informed decisions about whether the benefit for children’s development and learning outweighs the risks for potential harm associated. Our staff monitors environments daily for hazards and keeps the safety of our children in mind.
Emotions are a combination of physical and mental states, which react with each other. They are not moral issues. Children may feel joy, sadness, anxiety, enthusiasm, fear, hunger or delight that may result in laughter, fights, temper tantrums, and all kinds of excitement. While children are expressing emotions, we try to understand why they are acting as they do, redirect them, and if necessary, help them get necessary satisfaction in acceptable ways.
Westminster helps the child grow emotionally by:
- Helping the child see emotions as natural and acceptable.
- Helping to direct and channel emotions into constructive use.
- Emphasizing prevention instead of punishment.
- Understanding and accepting certain limits.
- Giving special attention to enhancing each child’s self- esteem.
Westminster is a Christian community. The spiritual growth of children is nurtured through the relationships in the community among our children, their parents, the staff, and church members. Sharing Christian holidays, hearing and applying biblical stories and songs, learning how to share and care among classmates are all outgrowths of the Christian environment of Westminster.
Our goals for Christian education are for children:
- To develop, through example and instruction, an awareness of God’s love for all.
- To develop a positive attitude toward the church as they are nurtured in the Christian faith and as they experience the Day School as a Christian community.
- To recognize the goodness and beauty of God’s creation, and to learn to respond to God with thankfulness.
Christian education is integrated into the curriculum by:
- Relating the children’s learning experiences to their awareness of God’s good creation.
- Practicing the “golden rule” as they learn to share space and materials with others.
- Saying or singing blessings together at meal times.
- Singing Christian songs and learning Bible verses.
- Reading Bible stories as well as other stories to teach Christian values.
- Attending monthly Church Time with Church ministry.
Parent Education is also important and valued at Westminster. Parents become part of the preschool staff on their “helping day” in the classroom. They are able to observe these master teachers and how they create a premium learning environment for the children. They learn how the teachers engage the children and foster critical development in all age groups. The parents are also invited to a variety of adult education programs including child behaviors, parenting, preparing for Kindergarten, nutrition, CPR, First Aid, and more.