Discovery Learning Center (DLC) offers both morning and afternoon preschool programs for children ages 2 through 6 years old. DLC is currently open from 7:30 am to 5:45 pm. The heart of our morning program is from 9:00 am -12:00 pm and the afternoon is from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. However, parents searching for half day options have many scheduling choices. Popular schedule selections include but are not limited to; 8:00 am -12:00 pm, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm or 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. And of course, full day is available as well. Please visit our COIVD-19 Mitigation Strategy page to find out about the health and safety precautions we are taking to keep our students and teachers safe.
Our students benefit from large chunks of uninterrupted outside playtime in the morning and in the afternoon. Our large outside space is mostly sand and some pavement on our bike trail and, patio spaces. We have an abundance of swings (traditional style, rope swing, pillow swing, spider swings and a belly swing) and climbing structures to meet our students’s sensory motor needs. In March of 2020 we installed a farm style fence in our large play yard. The goal was to create three different outdoor classrooms in addition to our “side yard” which is covered patio area with an uncovered sand box. All of our outdoor classrooms have hand washing stations, hoses for water play, table top space for traditional “inside activities”, sand toys, shovels and much more. Our staff has spent a great deal of time this year cultivating these spaces so our children can thrive under the 2020 pandemic circumstances while getting fresh air outside.
We allow children to take off their shoes, climb structures, ride bikes, swing on swings, ride our zip line (which we call “The Zoom”), play in the mud, paint, garden, and navigate their own play with mixed-aged peers. Our outside time is priceless! When children are allowed to explore, interact, and create freely in an environment that is infused with tools and materials that speak to their senses and natural curiosity, the possibilities are endless!
We also create outside playtime in cold weather and light rain, or after it has rained. We spend less time outside in colder weather, but we do bundle the kids up, strap on their rain boots, and allow them to run play, climb, and splash. It is critical for children to have access to fresh air and exercise year round. We are currently preparing for the 2020 winter and want to continue to allow our students to be outside as much as possible. We know this is key to staying healthy! Our staff and parents are working together to install outdoor heaters on our patios and to make those spaces partially enclosed to be protected from the elements. This way we can haven less students inside at one time.
Children who attend DLC need to arrive with a bag packed with plenty of extra clothing. We believe children need the freedom to explore their environment and participate in a variety of activities throughout their day with out worrying about staying clean. They should also come prepared for various weather situations. Another valued learning experience for children is the responsibility and independence that is gained when they are required to change their own clothing and cleaning up after a messy activity. Please send your child to school in clothing that you don’t mind them getting dirty or stained.
DLC typically runs a 1:6 ratio, sometimes it’s less and we may get up to 1:9. The highest ratio a preschool in the state of California can have is 1:12, but we try to avoid this. Having a very low ratio is a critical part of DLC’s high quality program. With a low ratio our teachers can actually attend to all of our student’s needs, we can ensure stellar supervision, and our students and teachers are happier. In order to follow the Sacramento County Department of Public Health Department’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy put into place in the spring of 2020, DLC keeps our students in separate stable groups throughout the day. This makes it so children are exposed to a small number of the same peers every day, as well as the same teachers. Please see our COVID-19 Mitigation Strategy page for more details and a few exceptions of when groups are co-mingled or combined.
Small Group Time
DLC has four preschool groups; the Butterflies (4’s and 5’s), the Dragonflies (old 3’s young 4’s) the Blue Dinosaurs (middle to young 3’s) and the Red Dinosaurs (2’s and young 3’s). Our small group time was traditionally only for two hours every day. But due to the COVID-19 mitigation strategy, our students are in their separate small groups throughout the day. This limits the exposure each child has to other peers throughout their school day. Our two older groups (Butterflies and Dragonflies) do combine for afternoon group for a max of 12 students, and midday in our swing yard for gross motor play with a max of 16 students. Our two younger groups (Blue Dinosaurs and Red Dinosaurs) occasionally combine in the afternoon, with typically no more than 8-9 kids.
Children are placed in groups with peers of similar developmental age (socially/emotionally and cognitively). During small group time children can get deeply involved in long term projects and activities that require skills that children are developing and/or working on mastering (fine/and large motor skills, cognitive abilities, problem solving skills, attention span, and much more). These long term projects are developed in concert by teachers and children based on the children’s emerging interests. Examples of long term projects include: planning and building a small city, creating puppets and puppet show, hatching duck eggs, super hero unit, castle building project, building trenches, canals, aqueducts, and so much more!
We work in small groups to develop true math, science, and literacy concepts, not just rote memorization. For children to do this they need to be interactive, hands-on, explore, contemplate, make mistakes, and ask questions. During group time we offer a variety of experiences which include but are not limited to; creative movement and music, literacy, math, science, sensory experiences, circle time, critical thinking opportunities, cooking projects, and much more. Whatever we are working on, we make sure it is meaningful and appropriate for each child. We also care deeply that children learn to respect their environment, their peers, and develop empathy.
Our school-age program pre COVID-19 pandemic was before and after school with busing service included. We currently are serving 12 school-age kids with distance learning support. We provide a quiet classroom for the kids to do synchronous and asynchronous assignments from 8:00 am – 11:00 am and from 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm. The middle of the day is reserved for lunch, walks to the Eucalyptus grove (Schweitzer Nature Area) across the street and/or free play in one of our outdoor classrooms. The middle of the day is essential for our school-agers to get fresh air, socialize, play, exercise and just be kids. Our school-age program also has an emphasis on team building skills, cooperative play, friendship building, and projects that emerge from the children’s interests (when time permits)!
Our School-Age summer program is an outstanding option for your child as well. Our teachers work very hard on planning a summer packed full of enriched experiences for our students. Two days a weeks our school-agers take city buses on all day field trips. With their backpacks packed with everything they need for the day, they head out early in the morning to visit parks, pools, creeks, museums, and take various scheduled tours. Our school-agers develop a heightened sense of responsibility, awareness of their surroundings and needs of others, safety skills, communication skills, investigative skills, problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as having a ton of fun! Update: the traditional summer program explained above is not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope it may return in 2021!
Our center hours are from 7:30 am to 5:45 pm. Children may attend on a full-day basis and be assured of a quality program to meet their development needs.
Lunch and Snack
DLC offers two nutritious snacks a day (9 am & 2 pm). Families provide lunch for their child. Please pack ice-packs in your child’s lunchbox to keep it cool, as we have limited space in our refrigerator. At 3:30 pm children are allowed to eat snacks from their lunch box. We are a nut free school. Please make sure any food that comes to our center is free of all nut products.
Toilet Training & Napping
Your child does not need to be toilet trained to attend DLC, and we do not base our decision on which small group they will be placed in based on their toilet training status. If your child does wear diapers then we ask that families provide us with diapers and baby wipes.
Not all children at DLC need to take naps. If your child does need a nap you may bring in a crib sheet, blanket, and pillow for them to use. Our nappers go to sleep right after lunch (between 11:30 and 12:00), and are allowed to wake up naturally.