Early Childhood Program: Infants and Toddlers, Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten

Wonders’ early childhood programs are designed to nurture each child’s social and emotional development while providing learning experiences that enhance development.

Infants and toddlers are respected and responded to as individuals. Infants are not expected to conform to a set schedule; instead their caregivers use flexible schedules for feeding, diapering, sleeping and playing to meet each infant’s needs. As the toddlers’ desire for independence increases, we provide them with more and more opportunities to make choices and to interact with their surroundings.

Preschoolers’ learning is thoughtfully and intentionally supported in the areas of language arts, mathematical thinking, science, social studies, the arts, motor skills and social-emotional learning. Children learn skills to help them take care of themselves and each other. The teachers guide children in their discoveries and foster the skills of life-long learning. 

Activities are based on the premise that children learn by doing. We believe that your child will discover and learn by making the decisions needed to work through an activity, rather than being told exactly how to accomplish a task. As a result of this process-oriented approach, you will find that no two art projects look the same. Your child will discover many individual approaches to accomplish a task. We support the interests of each child, helping him or her grow in his or her social-emotional and cognitive skill development through hands-on experimentation with materials and concepts. Curriculum planning in all of our early childhood programs is guided by The Creative Curriculum, a comprehensive, research-based approach to teaching. We believe in using teaching methods that match the way children develop and learn. Creative Curriculum Gold is accepted across the country as a leading tool for preparing children for Kindergarten by providing authentic, ongoing assessment of children from infants through age five.  Effective observation is the key to planning appropriate early childhood learning experiences and helping all children succeed. 

Family Participation

We believe that family participation in your child’s school experience supports your child’s learning and growth. It is required that every family with children enrolled in the Wonders early childhood program (infant to pre-K rooms) volunteer ten (10) hours per year. For families with two children or more enrolled in the program, the commitment is still ten hours and can be split between two sites. There are several ways that family members can volunteer at Wonders, including but not limited to:

  • Serving on the Family Advisory Council
  • Chaperone for field trips
  • Room parent
  • Room photographer
  • Materials preparation
  • Story reader
  • Routine maintenance
  • Sharing hobbies, work-related information
  • Library helper
  • Program support
  • Serving on the Wonders Board of Directors
  • E-mail list coordinator
  • Community partnerships
  • Grant writing
  • Minor repairs and equipment assembly
  • Playground clean-up
  • Organizing and/or staffing for the Politics and Prose Book Fair
  • Organizing and/or staffing for the Wonders Family Picnic

Family conferences will be held twice a year, in the fall and in the spring. Conferences are an opportunity for parents and teachers to meet to review your child’s progress in all areas of development and to set goals for continued growth and learning. Although we will be sharing information with you about your child on a daily basis, the conference is a valuable time for teachers and parents to partner with the focus on your child.

The partnerships and rapport that develop between teachers and families is vital to ongoing communication and connection. Formal parent/teacher conferences will take place twice during the school year. Arrangements will be made for additional meetings, if requested.

Wonders Family Advisory Council
The Wonders Family Advisory Council is focused on supporting the collaboration between the families and the administration of each of our early childhood programs. Members of the Council serve as liaisons between parents and the program directors at each site and the administrative team. The Family Advisory Council also plans parent education workshops throughout the school year.

Duties of Council members

  • Attend monthly Council meetings
  • Develop a working knowledge of Wonders program policies and procedures
  • Communicate information, as needed, to families
  • Communicate feedback such as ideas, concerns, suggestions to program staff
  • Welcome new families to the classroom
  • Plan parent education workshops
  • Recruit and organize parent volunteers
  • Help organize center-wide events (potlucks, etc.)
  • Help communicate and encourage Wonders development efforts (fundraising)

Meetings take place 4 times a year. An email list of Council members is provided to facilitate communication throughout the year. New Council members are welcome throughout the year. Questions or suggestions may be directed to Joanne Hurt (

School Age: Before and After School

The primary goal in our school age program is to create communities for children and their families that are fun, nurturing and enriching. Children are active learners. Wonders’ before and after school programs provide an environment where children can safely grow through self-guided and structured play. In addition to fostering imagination, play challenges children to expand social, emotional and intellectual tools. Group leaders carefully plan the program to balance homework with exercise and promote healthy eating habits.

School Age care is available at Bethesda Elementary School, Chevy Chase Elementary School, Horace Mann Elementary School, Jewish Primary Day School, Little Falls Extended Day (serving Wood Acres Elementary School), and Somerset Elementary School.

The before school program is designed as a gentle transition time from home to school. Children have the opportunity to read, finish homework, play board games or create artwork. Outside time and active games are also offered.

The after school program curriculum is built around themes that are of interest to the children. Within each theme, there are opportunities for all children to explore and experience activities that are meaningful to them. Our theme-based curriculum incorporates seven learning areas: language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, personal and social development, physical development and the arts. The afternoon is a blend of child initiated and teacher initiated activities including outdoor play, afternoon snack, group time, choice times, homework and reading time.

On days when schools have scheduled early dismissal or are closed, we provide a half or full day program. These longer days give us the opportunity to enhance our programming by planning special events, inviting specialists in to share their expertise or exploring the larger community on field trips.

Family Participation
We welcome families to join us in our school age programs. You may wish to volunteer to chaperone a field trip, join us for breakfast or come in time to join us in an afternoon activity or game. We appreciate how hectic the mornings and evenings can be for families, but please know that you are always welcome in our programs.

Program Information for All Programs

Multicultural and Social Justice Education

A vital aspect of our program is our commitment to multicultural and social justice education. We carefully create an environment that reflects not only the cultures of the families we serve but the world around us. We believe this validates children’s experiences, teaches the importance of valuing similarities and differences and builds the connection between home and school.

Guiding children to accept and respect individual differences is an integral part of our program. We provide an inclusive learning environment through an engaging curriculum, service learning and by promoting respectful relationships.

Wonders Child Care defines family as “People living together either related or not who care for and love one another.” Our goal is to be inclusive of the groupings that constitute a family system and we encourage children to share aspects of their home lives. When the children have questions about family, we attempt to answer them honestly and with sensitivity to individual circumstances. We understand that each family may approach this topic in a unique way. Our goal is to support these efforts in any way that we can.

Wonders Child Care makes every effort to accommodate children with special needs. We work closely with families to assess our ability to meet their child’s needs and establish an open dialogue to ensure a successful experience in a Wonders program. Classroom teachers receive focused training to provide them with the tools needed to make the classroom accessible and supportive. If it is determined that one-on-one support is necessary, we will discuss arrangements with your family.

We have a partnership with Amy Egan MA Special Education, Amy Freedman, MA, CCC-SLP, and Judi Greenberg, MS, OTR/L of Child Development Consultants LLC; they are a unique developmental team who provide support for staff, children, and families in local childcare centers, nursery schools and independent schools. They are co-authors of the nationally recognized parenting book “Is It A Big Problem or A Little Problem? When to Worry, When Not to Worry, and What to Do.” They also hold lectures and workshops throughout the country for parents and early childhood education professionals. For more information about these consultants and reviews of their book, check out their book website