PreK-3 Program

Our 3s Program is intended to help children progress in recognizing and communicating their feelings and emotions.

With the assistance of a program called Second Step, we help your child learn to name his/her emotions. We explore coping mechanisms for dealing with “big emotions” and we engage in meaningful conversations. We introduce mindfulness and breathing into the class every day.

At age 3, your child should begin developing more confidence and independence and should respond to simple directions. We build more awareness of and enforcement of classroom rules, and we use cooperative play.

Curriculum Themes

We work with your child to build more fluency in imitative reading, expand vocabulary and use writing utensils to scribble and draw. Your child will begin to understand that words represent ideas—for example, dictating a thank-you note to go with a picture after a doctor visits the classroom.

We begin introducing mathematical and scientific thinking, to help children solve problems and understand numerals.




Areas of Study


Writing is important for developing reading skills. Through writing, our 3s come to understand that words represent ideas. We use activities such as dictating a thank-you note to go with a picture after a firefighter visits the classroom.


Our 3s spend time every day reading books out loud and in small groups; they listen to nursery rhymes, poems and short stories. They begin to recognize letters and shapes and practice rhyming words. Our goal is to build phonological awareness, expand vocabulary, and develop comprehension (“What happens next?” “Where did she go?”).

Mathematical Skills

During our 3s program, our students begin understanding math concepts and developing math skills. During playtime, we develop these skills. We may ask the students to count how many blocks are in a Lego tower, sort by color and shape, and understand quantity and measure items at the sensory table.

Scientific Thinking
We begin to develop scientific thinking by helping our 3s to use senses to learn about the world. They make connections among things they see, such as seeds growing in cups that become plants. They bring snow in from the playground to see how long it takes to melt and what it looks like after it has melted.

Our 3s begin using tools, such as a magnifying glass to look at leaves and feathers or a scale to sort and compare items. Through enrichment programs and special visits, we learn about animals.

When Irvine Nature Center brings a hawk, snake or hedgehog to the classroom, our students love to talk about what the animal eats, its habitat, etc.

Social Learning

Social-emotional learning is a critical part of the development of children in preK. Through play and Circle Time, our 3s begin to understand the people around us (How many girls are in the room? How many boys?). They explore concepts such as family, and identify who is in their family. They talk about community helpers, and ask what a firefighter, letter carrier, teacher or doctor does.


Every day includes activities that help with the physical development of our 3s. We provide time for exercise and play outside with tricycles, scooters and sliding boards, and inside with dancing. We also have a focus on wellness, with time for stretching and yoga.

“TLS takes precautions to make sure everyone is safe. They constantly check up on us and ask if we need anything or can they help in any way.”

PreK-3 parent

Activities to Try At Home—

Activities we use and encourage parents to reinforce at home include:


Try New Things

Encourage the child to try new tasks, or to work with you. Do the new tasks together at first.


Self-Help Lessons

Give mini-lessons to the child in some self-help tasks, such as zipping a coat.

Expressive Language

Encourage the child to use her/his words to express her/his needs, wants and feelings.


Cooperative Play

Model cooperative play, entering in and helping to choose roles in pretend play.       


Create Routines

Establish daily routines that include doing two things in a row, such as “Hang up your coat and find your name card.”

Ask Questions

Ask open-ended questions, such as “What did you do this morning?” or “What will you do after school?”

Talk about what the child is seeing, hearing and touching.


Demonstrate Reading Concepts

Model and point out concepts of print, such as reading front to back, top to bottom and left to right, and sweeping back for the next line.

Allow Time to Respond

Give opportunities to respond, retell, draw about or reenact a story.

Embrace Diversity

Provide materials that represent diverse cultures, perspectives and ethnicities.

Learning to Draw

Make paper and large crayons and pencils available. Correct an awkward pencil grasp


Introduce New Vocabulary

Use the vocabulary of quantity and spatial relations, including “behind,” “more,” “less,” and “above.” Use these words naturally rather than in structured lessons.

Counting Activities

Count with the child when pushing on the swing, taking cookies from the snack basket or figuring out how many napkins are needed for a snack or family meal.

Allow for Discovery

Encourage the child to find out for her/himself rather than give answers immediately. 



Provide time daily for small muscle play to develop the pincer grasp and gain strength and control.

Provide Resources

Provide materials for small muscle play and practice, such as smaller blocks and beads, manipulatives, play dough, paintbrushes, markers, large and small writing utensils, and blunt scissors and paper.