Daycare and Preschool Open Monday-Friday from 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Ages 6 weeks - 5th grade
Innovative and Unique Play Space
- INFANTS (6 weeks - 18 months)
- TODDLERS (18 months - 36 months)
- PRESCHOOLERS (36 months - 5 years)
- BEFORE & AFTER SCHOOLERS (Kindergarten - 5th grade)
At The Polka Dot Place we believe that exposure ought to be the main focus of every child's learning experience. As adolescents we all looked forward to middle school, anticipating the freedom that would come along with being able to walk the halls, leave our classrooms and get acquainted with various rooms, teachers, styles and rules. At The Polka Dot Place we feel that this level of exploration should be a part of every child's journey toward discovery. We aim to provide that by setting up our curriculum and schedule in a way that allows our preschoolers to utilize every dedicated room in our facilities each day. We even extend the learning beyond the classroom by providing daily outdoor opportunities (when weather appropriate) for our students to explore local playgrounds, downtown Princeton, Princeton University's Campus, Terhune Orchards and our neighborhood on foot or via daycare van. These off-site excursions reinforce themes developed in the classroom, foster a sense of community, highlight the importance of personal responsibility and the role that each of us of play in the effort to create a sustainable community, as well build awareness, safety skills and confidence. Our indoor and outdoor explorations allow learning to happen everywhere, even en-route!
Moreover, we like to refer to our approach as a “tapestry approach” and therefore refer to our center as a “Tapestry School”. This is because we have explored and considered many modern day and old-school techniques and philosophies in regard to early childhood development and learning. Particular tenets of Piaget, Freud and Montessori are compelling while some facets of the Waldorf system and the un-schooling method produce some truly tangible results as well. Furthermore, the standards of the International Baccalaureate provide an innovative and creative approach to opening young minds. We do not adhere to a single approach or method, but instead have incorporated successful elements of many of these styles and ideologies, developing along the way a fresh and uniquely innovative approach to mastering the art of early childhood education and development.
We are proud of the curriculum that we have developed and are even prouder that our parents over the years have been extremely happy with their decision to choose us. In the 12 years since our very first preschool launched in NJ (Tiger Hall in Princeton, NJ), each family's average enrollment length has been about 3 years. That alone speaks volumes! We are looking forward to welcoming you and your family on board!
- Daily circle time lessons (Morning Meeting)
- Organic and/or All Natural Meal Plan (Gluten Free/Gluten Sensitive, Corn Free, Nut Free and Pork Free)
- Occasional field trips (car seats provided; trips are weather permitting)
- Play time in dedicated playroom is incorporated daily
- Smaller program and healthier indoor environment (shoe free)
- Core curriculum designed and tested by Princeton University Alumna
- Heavy focus on personal responsibility, civility and thoughtful action, an element often missing in today's modern classrooms
- Dedication to shaping the whole child, not just their growing minds
Curriculum and Philosophies:
Here at The Polka Dot Place we believe that the most important part of any education is the part where we learn to think critically. Analyzing, questioning, hypothesizing and entertaining off the wall tangents are all vital parts of our daily journey toward discovery and knowledge. Furthermore, at The Polka Dot Place we understand that each individual child has their own individual style of learning, and we aim to provide a creative curriculum that caters to visual, audio and kinesthetic learners alike. In addition to our academic efforts here at The Polka Dot Place, we also make a concerted effort to develop the whole child. Below are some more of our core philosophies:
- Dialogue: Instead of stepping into the center of every single conflict, teachers and staff encourage our tykes to speak with one another, to express their feelings and expectations with clarity, to employ a "serious voice" when necessary, to solve their own conflicts and to choose their words with care and thoughtful consideration. "Ouch, those words really hurt!" and "Our words work better than magic" are common slogans around here!
- Personal Responsibility: Our children are encouraged to consider how their own actions, big and small, can have the power to affect the world/community around them. Encouraging "thoughtful action" is a key component of our day. In addition to acting with care, we encourage the kids to treat our school body with care by assigning chores that help the greater good (water helper, potty-time monitor, handwashing-helper, rule reminder, etc.) and that help to maintain a healthy and wholesome environment.
- Compassion: We continually encourage our children to envision and consider things from other people's perspectives, to respect each other's opinions and to also value their own. Furthermore, we encourage them to explore and appreciate their own individual perspectives. We expect them to give themselves the same respect that we encourage them to give to others. Another common motto is that "Sharing here is a two way street that is not merely about sacrifice - it is about sacrifice on one end and patience on the other". We encourage the children to consider and acknowledge their own needs while at the same time respectfully considering the needs of others, this often comes into play as the children work out their own "sharing solutions" over toys, games, etc.
- Discipline: The same form of discipline is never effective across the board for every single type of infraction, and infractions/conflicts can be infinite when it comes to a group of curious and opinionated tots. We recognize that and implement various forms of guidance and redirection depending on the situation at hand that vary in intensity from "thinking time", during which the child dictates the length of his or her own stay, to a trip to the "noise pollution room" where children are encouraged to decompress at their own pace before starting a private dialogue about the issue at hand.
- Promoting Civility: Civil Behaviors that we encourage here at The Polka Dot Place: Be Inclusive. Accept and Give Praise. Celebrate Others' Accomplishments As Well As Your Own. Apologize Earnestly. Assert Yourself. Respect Others' Opinions and Cherish Your Own. Respect Other People's Time. Be Your Best Self. Speak and Act Kindly. Respect Other People's Space. Be a Good Host and Be A Good Guest.
Our engaging and creative curriculum introduces concepts in a manner that seamlessly integrates:
- gross motor development
- fine motor development
- unstructured creative expression
- pre-reading skills
- math problem solving (pre-addition/pre-subtraction)
- world geography and cultural studies
- handwriting/pre-handwriting skills
- science discovery
- social etiquette and more
About the Owner:
Olayinka Akinlawon obtained a Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology in 2007 from Princeton University. Her degree and relevant coursework has been instrumental in the development of a curriculum that encompasses thoughtful action, civility, geography, community, science, cross-cultural studies, etiquette and more! In addition to her main studies, she took coursework in (Childhood) Developmental Psychology and (Childhood) Language Acquisition in addition to a semester long classroom research assignment in a Princeton, NJ preschool. She opened her first in-home daycare (Tiger Tails EduCare) immediately after graduation in 2007. That in-home daycare grew quickly and then moved to a commercial center in a strip mall in 2009 and became Tiger Hall (located in Princeton, NJ), a venture that offered childcare, preschool, kinder prep, tutoring, mommy-and-me classes and enrichment in the areas of German, Science, Reading Readiness, Spanish Immersion, Art, Music, Yoga, Dance and more! Summer Camps, Public Open Play and Birthday Parties were other popular features of this 3000 square foot venture. Tiger Hall was sold in September of 2013.
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