Early Childhood at Gillispie is comprised of our Preschool and Prekindergarten programs for children ages 2-5.
Young children are capable and natural learners, and our purpose as a school is to facilitate their social, academic, and creative development as they explore their world. We do so by:
• Embracing an emergent curriculum. Teachers spend much time observing, questioning, and listening to the children, and frame many activities around their combined interests and knowledge.
• Understanding that play is a critical part of learning in the life of a young child, and that it provides a wonderful medium by which children socialize and learn to take healthy risks. We aspire to have an accepting and loving environment that allows children to learn using their senses and whole bodies.
• Recognizing that success in school and life requires the acquisition of basic skills and knowledge. Rather than rote memorization and drill, we offer experiences that will develop flexible rather than fixed mindsets in finding solutions, and encourage children to work through challenges.
We believe that children should enter elementary school with confidence about what they already know and can do, and excitement about what is to come.
Gillispie’s Parent Toddler Exploration Program (PTEP) offers fun-filled mornings for toddler-aged (20-36 months) children and moms/dads/caregivers. This program offers hands-on experiences like sensory play and process art that allows children the opportunity to experience a wide range of expressive materials including clay, watercolors, tempera paints, light, shadow, and collage. Children will also learn how to build relationships through shared experiences and self-discovery as they interact with peers. You will be able to connect with other adults and enhance your parenting skills as you work side by side with your child in this nurturing environment.
Age Range: 20-36 mo. | Schedule Options: 1 morning per week
Our youngest learners are comprised of enthusiastic and inquisitive 2 year olds. Two classrooms are housed in a Cottage that is designed specifically for toddlers, including an age-appropriate Outdoor Classroom space adjacent to the Cottage and accessible from both classrooms. Our Young Preschool teaching teams have a focus on “edu-care-ing,” understanding the balance of nurturing the emotional needs of toddlers and simultaneously encouraging independent skills.
Age Range: 2-3 | Schedule Options: 3 or 5 half or full-days | Extended Care (optional): 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Class Sizes: 8:1 or lower ratio
Our 3 and 4 year olds learn through play as a critical part of their development, providing a wonderful medium by which children socialize and learn to take healthy risks. We embrace an emergent curriculum in which teachers spend time observing, questioning, and listening to the children, and frame many activities around their combined interests and knowledge. Rather than rote memorization and drill, we offer experiences that will develop flexible mindsets in finding solutions, and encourage children to work through challenges.
Age Range: 3-4 | Schedule Options: 3 or 5 half or full-days | Extended Care (optional): 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Class Sizes: 8:1 or lower ratio
Our prekindergarten program builds on the preschool schema and gives children the freedom to construct learning and deepen their understanding through authentic experiences. Project work emerges from student interests and allows children to utilize mathematical thinking, oral language, reading, writing, and science to research and find answers to their questions and theories. The prekindergarten program is full day (8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) and provides the academic preparedness for entering elementary school through open-ended discovery.
Age Range: 4-5 | Schedule Options: 5 full-days | Extended Care (optional): 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Class Sizes: 8:1 or lower ratio
We believe learning is multidimensional and view the environments as integral to inspiring curiosity and wonder. We curate the indoor classroom space to be a second home for children where they feel safe, comfortable, and have a place to belong. The indoor environment hosts opportunities for exploration, a cozy spot for rest time, and a home base for the classroom community.
We advocate for children to connect with nature, understanding and caring for the environment through sustainable practices. Our Outdoor Classroom provides opportunities for learning including a block building area, dramatic play space, art deck, dirt digging area with water feature, sand play, gardening, and a quiet space for reflecting. Our program allows for extended periods of time outdoors, providing children with rich and engaging outdoor learning experiences.
We encourage purposeful use of genuine materials that support a proactive approach to diverse learning. Our atelier is dedicated for the use of early childhood students and provides a venue to explore art mediums such as watercolor, clay, woodworking, painting, drawing, and photography. We emphasize the process of art and encourage children to experiment in their work.
Located outside between the Early Childhood Atelier and our historic Elementary Art Bungalow, the sustainable garden provides an inspirational space for gardening, composting, and outdoor learning.
Our large field is accessible from the Early Childhood Outdoor Classroom and is frequently used for developing gross motor skills for young children. The beautiful upper campus is available for early childhood classes to access the gymnasium, visit elementary classrooms, and enjoy the school’s library.
No. We follow the cues of children in toilet learning and partner with families wherever they are at in the process. We happily change diapers and help kids when they have an accident, which is a typical part of developing this skill.
Between 1:6 and 1:8. We have two fully qualified professional educators for each classroom of 12-16 students per day.
In the morning and afternoon, students may be dropped off and picked up at the Fay Avenue driveway. Younger children will be escorted to the proper playground area by a teacher or staff member. Parents can also choose to park on Fay Avenue and walk onto campus with their child. Digital sign-in/out is available at Fay Avenue and at kiosks for parents of Early Childhood students to sign in and out.
Healthy snack is provided in the morning and afternoon (if your child stays for the full-day program). We purchase local, organic fruit from the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market and organic cheese and crackers. Parents provide lunch or can purchase a hot lunch from our hot lunch provider, Ki’s School Lunches. Click here to learn more about our hot lunch program.
No, however all children are required to participate in a period of quiet rest time. Some children fall asleep and some do not. The duration of rest time varies from class to class.
Gillispie uses several communication tools to keep parents engaged and informed. A weekly, schoolwide digital newsletter called The Sun is sent via email. Also, classroom teachers publish stories on Storypark. These stories provide more detailed narratives about your child that include pictures, quotes and descriptions of their learning journeys.
Gillispie faculty are trained and committed to empowering students with the social, emotional, and verbal tools to advocate for themselves and communicate with their peers. Many issues can be resolved by getting down to the child’s level and solving the problem together by making observations and suggestions. If a situation is unsafe, then teachers can intervene and continue problem solving safely.
"Gillispie is truly a leader in Early childhood education. We have been parents at Gillispie for over 12 years. All three of my kids have truly LOVED their school. We feel Very fortunate to have found such a holistic, healthy, and nurturing environment for our children to grow and build strong foundations for their future academic experiences."
"After two years at Gillispie, I have come to realize the value of not only engaging our little ones, but embracing them, encouraging them to "teach" us as adults, and creatively inspiring them to explore and navigate through the fascinating challenges of growing up."
"The Early Childhood Program is truly amazing. Kids are encouraged to try it all, learning through play, and allowing them to explore freely while guiding them gently, and leading by example."