Sparking Curiosity

Refresh page when toggling 'compose' mode on and off to edit.

Recommended Image Size: 1440px wide by 600px tall
(this text will not display with 'compose' mode off or on live site)

4PreK teacher Ella Slaker talks with a preschool student at the Rowland Hall Beginning School located in Salt Lake City, Utah
Rowland Hall Beginning School 4PreK Teacher Brittney Hansen teaches a preschooler about chemistry.
Two Rowland Hall kindergarteners embrace in their Salt Lake City, Utah, independent, private school classroom.
A Rowland Hall Beginning School student showcases a creation they made out of tiled pieces.

Beginning School: 3PreK, 4PreK, and Kindergarten

Welcome to Rowland Hall's independent private preschool, an exceptional place for young children in Utah to learn. Early childhood is a time of incredible brain development, and you'll find actively engaged learners within our classrooms and outdoor spaces.

When you enter the Beginning School, it’s immediately clear: this is a place tailor-made to amplify the power and magic of young children. The intentional and joyous celebration of Rowland Hall’s youngest learners reverberates in every corner. And in every classroom and play space, you’ll find master teachers who are at the heart of what we do: provide experiences that encourage curiosity, compassion, expression, and deep thinking. In the Beginning School, students learn how to think, not merely what to think.

I am honored to be a part of this special place that fosters such exceptional learning and teaching in a warm and inclusive community. I hope you’ll come for a visit to see what I see and—more importantly—what our students see.

Sincerely,

Emma Wellman 
Beginning School and Lower School Principal

A Rowland Hall preschool students examines dirt with a magnifying glass in their classroom.
A Rowland Hall beginning school class jumps in the air in the nature yard outside of their McCarthey Campus classroom.
Preschool students listening to their teacher at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City.
Rowland Hall preschoolers laugh while sitting at a fine-motor skill table in their Salt Lake City, Utah classroom.
Preschooler and teacher doing a science unit at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City.
A Rowland Hall Beginning School students smiles at the camera while playing with blocks in class.
Rowland Hall preschool teacher Kirsten White teaches a student about worms in her classroom.
A Rowland Hall kindergarten class does yoga at Sunnyside Park as part of their outdoor classroom experience.
A Rowland Hall preschooler draws with a colored pencil in their classroom.
Rowland Hall preschool students put together jigsaw puzzles in their classroom.
Independent Private Beginning School Principal - Emma Wellman - Salt Lake City, Utah

Emma Wellman
Beginning School and Lower School Principalget to know Emma

Contact the Beginning School

720 Guardsman Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
801-355-7485

Beginning School Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Emma Wellman and Brittney Hansen join host Conor Bentley to record the first episode of princiPALS' third season.

Good things are worth the wait. After a hiatus during the 2021–2022 school year, Rowland Hall’s princiPALS are back in office, ready to help families understand the preschool and elementary years and offer tips on how to raise children who thrive.

In addition to a new season, princiPALS is proud to present a new pal: Beginning School and Lower School Assistant Principal Brittney Hansen ’02 has joined Emma Wellman in the role first held by former Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus. (Jij is now Rowland Hall’s director of capital giving.)

“I’m very excited to join the podcast and help members of our community, and beyond, understand that they have support when it comes to raising young children,” said Brittney, who, in addition working as an educator, is a parent of three preschool- and elementary-aged children. “I truly understand the challenges of parenthood and believe we’re all in this together.”

For me as a parent, it’s time to recommit to giving my kids opportunities to struggle productively—to giving them chances to take risks, to get messy, to feel disappointment, because I know that that’s what they need. We couldn’t give our kids many of these things during the pandemic years, but we owe it to them to get back to this. They really deserve it.—Brittney Hansen ’02, Beginning School and Lower School assistant principal

In the first episode of season three, Emma and Brittney, along with host Conor Bentley ’01, revisit the topic covered in the podcast’s very first episode: resilience. Recorded in fall 2019, princiPALS’ inaugural episode was designed to help parents and caregivers learn what resilience is and how to build the skill in their children. But not long after the episode was recorded, the world changed. As COVID-19 quickly spread, parenting began to look completely different, and our overall tolerance for risk—a necessary component of building resilience—was dropped to make room for safety measures.

Thankfully, we’re now living in a different phase of the pandemic—one that’s ideal for caregivers who want to recalibrate their parenting strategies, including introducing the kind of risks that help build resilience in children.

“During the height of the pandemic, we forgot that it’s actually really good and important for kids to do things that may feel unsafe, like walking to a friend’s house, or going into a store alone, or, for really young children, even navigating something like a tall staircase by themselves,” explained Emma. “This is an important part of childhood.”

Join the princiPALS as they revisit what resilience is, discuss how it’s built in children (and how adults can keep their fears in check while building it), and remind listeners of the many benefits of this life skill—like tenacity, endurance, adaptability, and purposefulness—that make the work worthwhile.

“For me as a parent, it’s time to recommit to giving my kids opportunities to struggle productively—to giving them chances to take risks, to get messy, to feel disappointment, because I know that that’s what they need,” said Brittney. “We couldn’t give our kids many of these things during the pandemic years, but we owe it to them to get back to this. They really deserve it.”

Check out “Rebuilding Resilience after COVID” (along with other episodes of the princiPALS podcast), available now on Rowland Hall's website, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.

Podcast

This fall, Rowland Hall 3PreK students are learning how to read emotions on faces.

Is the friend sad or mad? 

That’s what a group of students in Lynelle Stoddard and Camilla Rosenberger’s 3PreK class were trying to determine one cool November day, as they looked through each other’s personal photo albums. 

Weston, as a baby, looks like he’s crying, one student observed. Another thinks he must be mad because he’s in a crib, and cribs are not fun. Weston can’t remember what he was feeling, and he really wants to look at his other pictures.

We use this year to work on how they treat each other and deal with situations.—Camilla Rosenberger, 3PreK assistant teacher

What the students were doing on this late fall day is a central goal in the 3PreK classroom: they were learning to name and hold their feelings, and how to turn those feelings into positive actions—life skills that will support them long after they leave the preschool classroom. To build these skills, the teachers have provided a selection of books for the students to read, including Silly Sally and When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…. They have also been singing songs such as "If You’re Happy and You Know It," and have explored feelings while reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt as a class and then searching for a stuffed bear hidden in the Nature Yard. And along the way, there have been many conversations about how feelings play out in different ways.

“This is such an important time for their social-emotional progress,” said assistant teacher Camilla about the three- and four-year-old students. “We use this year to work on how they treat each other and deal with situations, through their education.”

Lead teacher Lynelle agreed. “We want them to learn strategies to manage their feelings, like taking big deep breaths to calm their bodies. When they’re angry, we encourage the strategy of ‘pretend to sniff a flower, and then blow out the candles on a birthday cake.’”

3PreK students play together in a sandbox. Learning to respect others' emotions is part of the preschool curriculum.


And, as illustrated on that November day, it’s important to the teachers that their students aren’t only dealing with their own feelings. The children are also learning how to identify what others may be feeling, and they interact with each other based on those cues. “Feelings photos” are part of these lessons. Every child has a set of photos taken of them displaying different emotions, and then the children look at their own faces before putting an emotion to each expression. This practice helps the students learn how to read each other’s faces, and to read the faces of those outside of the classroom as well.

We do activities like looking at your neighbor and asking them, ‘How are you feeling today?’ Or we will identify what emotion we see them displaying and we ask how we can help them deal with or work through that emotion.—Lynelle Stoddard, 3PreK lead teacher

“We do activities like looking at your neighbor and asking them, ‘How are you feeling today?’” said Lynelle. “Or we will identify what emotion we see them displaying and we ask how we can help them deal with or work through that emotion.”

Determining appropriate actions for emotions is another part of the students’ social-emotional growth. The teachers help the children work through which actions can help improve a situation and which ones may cause more problems. They may have conversations about sharing, consideration of others, and the importance of being a first-time listener—that is, following instructions without being asked multiple times. 

“We have a lot of books that are based on turning feelings into actions,” said Camilla. “No Biting, Louise is a favorite one, lately. Books like these help the kids discern what are good actions and what are not.”

The 3PreK students may be little, but their emotions are big, and by helping them name emotions, understand them, and maybe control them (even a little bit), their teachers are giving them a foundation on which to learn, grow, and become people the world needs. Even if the individual lessons aren’t remembered, and the book titles fade from memory, the central message will remain.

Social-Emotional Learning

High school students wave to the camera on the first day of school

Rowland Hall is excited to welcome students back to our two campuses for the 2022–2023 school year.

The first days of school are always exciting, and this year was no exception. As students and families arrived on Wednesday, August 24, they were greeted by an enthusiastic team of faculty and staff, and had the chance to say hello to friends, old and new. Some of our youngest learners also got to meet Roary, our school mascot, who was ready to give high-fives and pose for pictures as students made their way to class. Students also had the chance to come together this week at events like the Lower School's first community gathering of the year and the all-school Convocation.

Below, please enjoy some of the images captured over the first few days of school.

Back to School

Community

Rowland Hall beginning schoolers tackling mathematical thinking while building with blocks.

Blocks are everywhere in the Beginning School.

Every classroom has shelves full of them, available for students to build whatever their imaginations desire. If you go into a classroom while school is in session, you’ll likely have to step over at least a couple walls or towers as you maneuver the space. In doing so, you are stepping right into the middle of a math lesson.

“We use the blocks to teach math concepts like half and whole and fractions,” said kindergarten lead teacher Melanie Robbins. “We start with a student exploring with blocks and expand that experience by asking questions and exploring new ways to look at things.”

Research shows that an early focus on math helps not only with mathematical cognition later, but also with overall learning throughout a child’s education.

Math isn’t a subject that you normally think of being taught in an early childhood setting. For decades the focus has been on literacy for younger children. Research shows that an early focus on math helps not only with mathematical cognition later, but also with overall learning throughout a child’s education. It’s something kindergartener Aria S. seems to realize, even though she’s only six. “I love math because it helps organize your brain,” she says. “It clears your brain and makes it so you can think easily.”

The ways math is taught in early education don’t look like what you might imagine. Yes, if you ask the students if they are learning math they will say they are, and will tell you all about addition and subtraction, how one plus one equals two, and the differences between working with “big” numbers and “small” numbers. What they won’t mention, though, is that they are being taught that math is all around them, in every part of their daily lives—that’s because it’s so naturally woven through the curriculum.

“We are a math community. We do math workshops, but we also use the language of math when we go on shape walks, or during dramatic play time,” Melanie said. “We do so much of our math through stories. It allows math to fluidly enter their brains.”

A preschool girl playing with building blocks.

Teaching math through storytelling also allows the students to teach each other. In one recent lesson students listened to a story about a baby’s adventure as he explored his backyard. While they listened, they drew maps of where the baby went, how his movement formed shapes, and how far he traveled. Then they compared what they had each drawn.

Teaching math through storytelling also allows the students to teach each other.

“We look at how everyone thought about it differently,” Melanie said. “The students explain their thinking, and other students can collaborate and expand on concepts. It brings a joyful energy to math.”

While communal lessons are a cornerstone of teaching, there is also value in the smaller teachable moments. “We as teachers are always looking at how our students are exploring and how we can expand those experiences with questions,” said Melanie. “It’s about giving them choice and voice in how they learn and retain those lessons. We are intentional with our actions, but we are teaching in a way they aren’t thinking, ‘We’re doing math right now.’”

That brings us back to the blocks. As the kids get them out to build the city of the day, they are talking about their design ideas and who or what will live there. But they are also talking about how many blocks they will need to complete the various parts, and how to brace those blocks so they won’t fall down easily. It’s play, but math is also at work.

“The block building piece of the Beginning School is very mathematical,” said Melanie.  “You can always identify Rowland Hall students by their block-building abilities.”

STEM

You Belong at Rowland Hall