Beginning (Pre-K–Grade 1)

The Beginning Years community is where the seeds for connectedness, awareness, reflection, and inquiry first take root at OES. We believe that every child is unique and capable, that each of them bring gifts to share and questions to explore. Our emergent program draws from the interests and theories of the children and is influenced by constructivist educators: teachers and thinkers like Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and the educators of Reggio Emilia, Italy. In this tradition we believe that learning is an active process, and that learners who construct their own knowledge are most likely to remember their learning, make discoveries, and apply learning to new contexts. We are a community who believes in social constructivism, an understanding that human knowledge is often heightened and deepened by interaction with others.

Visiting our Beginning Years classrooms, you will see curricular components of math, science, and literacies embedded within the children’s experiences. We hope you will also notice the multiple ways the children communicate their important ideas through the arts, their dialogue with the natural world, and our continual emphasis on helping children better understand themselves, each other and the world around them. The social-emotional development of our youngest learners is our highest priority and lays the foundation for the risk-taking, focus, connection, and lifelong learning that lays ahead of them in their years at OES and beyond.

About the Primary Class Option
For children who would benefit from a gift of time, a year to grow and develop between Kindergarten and First Grade, OES offers the Primary class option. We look at our Primary program as an opportunity to slow things down, to allow time for progress, time to flourish. Families choose Primary for their children for a myriad of reasons, but one commonality tends to be that of the child who might be stronger, more aware, and more confident with time to grow into his/herself.


  • 3 Enrollment Options: 5 short days, Hybrid (part full/ part short days) and 5 full days.
  • Recognize the power of children’s gifts
  • Make the children’s thinking, questioning and imagination visible to the larger community
  • Believe children learn from play
  • Honor the storyteller in every child
  • Develop the child’s sense of place in the natural world


  • Nurture gifts and passions, inspire new explorations
  • Empower children to make their thinking visible
  • Explore the relationships between self, friendship and community
  • Enliven learning through story and the natural world


  • Explore how to grow and expand on our gifts
  • Find new ways to question, imagine and make our thinking visible
  • Focus on the impact of our actions on the world
  • Bring a mindset of inquiry to the natural world


  • Expand on the children's previous learning
  • Build on the children's habits of observation and wondering
  • Believe children learn best when they construct their own understanding
  • Create an environment that holds literacy at the core
  • Continue to nurture the children's sense of place in the natural world