We provide a play environment which fosters a child’s natural curiosity, encourages exploration, experimentation, and creativity, supports their quest to make connections and sense of the world, and advocates for them as engaged and active learners. Children at gnomies grow to be independent and self-reliant and learn-in the widest possible sense-about themselves, about others, and about the world.
We believe that play is a process, not a product-- a set of behaviors that are freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated. Children learn best through hands-on experiences, and we provoke this discovery with open-ended materials, age-appropriate manipulatives, sensory activities, dramatic play, arts and crafts projects, a safe and stimulating outdoor space, and a kind and nurturing teaching staff.
Social + emotional development is the foundation of all other learning and we provide a consistent social experience that allows the children to build important communication skills and form strong friendships.
gnome-grown in west county
7985 valentine avenue, sebastopol, ca 95472
At Gnomies, we create a holistic, child-centered, hands-on learning environment, with a focus on sustainability and the environment. The children’s interests serve as a springboard for our evolving, emergent curriculum, where they spend days to weeks engaged in thought-provoking play and project-based learning.
Throughout each day, children learn from each other, honing their social skills and problem solving abilities, and understanding the concepts of friendship, cooperation, and inclusion. We provide a safe place for children to make self-motivated choices for play, thereby building independence and self-help skills. The stimulating environment provides opportunities to explore art and play materials, manipulatives, and nature. Mastery of fine motor skills and gross motor skills begins to emerge as children use familiar materials in new and creative ways.
Teachers are facilitators of play, offering support and acting as a resource, largely yielding to the child's lead. In times of conflict, the teacher will model language that helps children learn how to work together, foster empathy, hone their negotiation and communication skills, and ultimately create a community of inclusiveness.
Our program also places a heavy emphasis on outdoor education, instilling a positive regard for the environment by becoming ecologically literate citizens who have a sense of ownership and stewardship of the earth. Weekly, we walk to Ragle Ranch Park, where we engage in unstructured and open-ended lessons: exploring in a grove of redwoods, climbing the California oaks, hiking the Blackberry Trail, studying various birds and wildlife, and building forts with natural, found materials of the forest.
Children who immerse themselves in a natural and ever-changing environment simply have more opportunities to learn new things in new ways. Being outdoors provides expanded opportunity for physical exploration. Inspiration is everywhere in the change of seasons and cycles of life, and children develop a bond with nature as they begin to understand their place within it.
Gnomies offers two programs: A morning program from 9-1pm, and for families needing extended care, an aftercare program, from 1-5pm. In both programs, we offer a teacher to child ratio of 1:7.
The school consists of 4 classrooms: The front room holds our cubbies, the library, a cozy window nook, a kitchen for our weekly cooking projects, and tables for projects and puzzles. The middle room is full of industrious and imaginative play: A block rug for block structures or Magnatile builds, a train table, a play kitchen and a dramatic play area. The art room is buzzing with creativity- a sensory table for pounding out play dough or clay, a teacher-facilitated project table, and a more independent, child-led table, where open-ended activities like stamps, watercolors, and drawing occur. Two easels pique the interests of our burgeoning painters. Lastly, our yard is an important extension of our school. We have trikes out, a huge sand box for sand and water play, and a great wooden ship for climbing, sliding, and more gross motor development!
Our schedule also incorporates an organic snack, music and movement, yoga and meditation, a closing circle-time, and a plant-based lunch.
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