Early Childhood

Grades Preschool, Prekindergarten and Kindergarten
Hawken's new Early Childhood Center brings top notch facilities to Hawken's nationally recognized early childhood program. Read more here.

Our Philosophy

Hawken’s forward-focused mission of preparation through the development of character and intellect applies to even our youngest students. Our dual commitment to academic and social curricula puts students at the center of learning, teaching them in developmentally appropriate ways to make choices, manage time, and think critically and creatively. At the same time, our programs help develop and encourage critical character skills, such as individual ownership of learning and empathy for others. In all of our endeavors, we seek to foster joy in learning and the importance of being a significant member of a community.

Hawken’s early childhood experts know young children thrive in nurturing environments that encourage and support discovery and the construction of knowledge through exploration and experimentation in a variety of settings. In our classrooms, the play setting has the most integrity for young children. As students reconstruct and experience their own worlds, genuine learning results.

The Early Childhood Center, opened in August 2011, provides our students with a state of the art environment specifically designed to facilitate and encourage early childhood learning. The Center is the stunning end result of a collaboration with a nationally known educational design firm commissioned to give life to the Hawken premise that aesthetic environment plays a significant role in a child’s development. This new space enhances programming by inspiring exploration, supporting a variety of social learning experiences, and encouraging development of motor skills.

Hands-on activities provide meaningful, creative experiences while fostering self-confidence and an excitement for learning. This unique learning environment provides rich and varied opportunities for in-depth exploration and discovery while incorporating the broader goals of language development, science inquiry, math awareness, creative arts exploration, and social and emotional growth.

Early Childhood Academic Overview

List of 6 items.

  • The Early Childhood Program

    The Early Childhood program at Hawken School focuses on five domains of development: Social-Emotional, Approaches to Learning, Cognitive, Language and Literacy. These domains encompass the core academic disciplines, addressing each subject area from a developmental perspective, because each child progresses at varying rates within each discipline. The specific academic skills addressed at each level are outlined on the curriculum skills grid.
  • The Social-Emotional Domain

    The Social-Emotional Domain addresses the development of social skills and emotional competence, one of the most important goals in early childhood education. Children need these skills in order to achieve academically and to maintain relationships within the community of the school and throughout life. As students progress through the continuum, they develop social skills that provide the foundation for forming lasting relationships that are essential to emotional health, which encompasses the development of personal identity, self-esteem, expression and control of emotions, management of frustration, and perseverance.
  • The Approaches to Learning Domain

    The Approaches to Learning Domain describes the ways in which children move toward, interact, and reflect upon life experiences. The skills and attitudes children bring to their early school environment have a major impact on the approach they take when “learning how to learn” and can be developed by a learning environment that nurtures initiative, engagement, persistence, curiosity, reasoning, problem solving, invention and imagination.
  • The Language and Literacy Domain

    The Language and Literacy Domain addresses the skills of listening, speaking and writing. Language skills provide the foundation for a wide range of abilities that will be used in both social and academic situations throughout life. This acquisition is a natural yet complex process, and its ultimate goal is effective communication skills and literacy; and the use of language to convey meaning through reading and writing. Competency continues to develop throughout the early school years as formal reading and writing instruction takes place in the classroom.
  • The Cognitive Domain

    The Cognitive Domain addresses the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information. The Cognitive Domain encompasses math, science, and social studies. Key characteristics of the cognitive domain are knowledge of physical properties, knowledge about relationships and knowledge of cultural conventions; the primary cognitive processes are attention, memory, trial and error, cause and effect, reasons and problem solving, and prediction and estimation.
  • The Physical Domain

    Physical Development is a significant aspect of growth in the early childhood years and provides avenues for the way in which children explore their surroundings. This domain includes small and large motor competence as well as sensory awareness.

Grade Level Highlights

List of 3 items.

  • Preschool

    Every fall, our Preschoolers look forward to their annual Harvest Festival where they invite their parents to join them for the morning as they move through six fun-filled activities.  Students and parents enjoy activities such as squash bowling and pumpkin carving.
  • Prekindergarten

    The Lower School Language Department introduces Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language study beginning in Prekindergarten. When students reach 4th grade, they select one language, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, to pursue in greater depth and breadth.
  • Kindergarten

    Adding to the magic of the Kindergarten year, many students are also excited for the start of the aquatic program. The aquatic program at Hawken provides each student with the opportunity to learn various strokes and survival techniques.

New Center Impresses Experts

Early Childhood Director Mary Beth Hilborn gives Dr. T. Berry Brazelton (L) and Dr. Joshua Sparrow a tour of a classroom.

Hawken opened the doors to a stunning new early childhood center in August 2011, with a celebration that included a keynote address from renowned education expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus Harvard Medical School and founder of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children’s Hospital Boston.
The revered Dr. Brazelton was visibly impressed with the new building and with what Hawken is doing for its youngest learners saying: "It's a real inspiration. I’ve seen a lot of early childhood spaces and this is the most beautiful and child centered space I’ve ever seen.”
Click here to learn more about Hawken's Early Childhood Center.

Program Options

Hawken's Early Childhood Learning Program schedule gives parents more freedom in choosing an educational pathway for their children. Ultimately, we hope these options will expand our opportunities to expose your child to the joys of learning.  Choices for Hawken's Early Childhood Program include:

Preschool: Three-Year-Olds
MTW: 8:30-11:00 a.m.
Additional options include:
-Add TH and F in January
-Add lunch 1-3 days
-Add afternoon enrichment 1-3 days: 12:15-2:45 p.m.

Preschool: Three and Four-Year-Olds
M-F: 8:30-11:00 a.m.
Additional options include:
-Add lunch 1-5 days
-Add afternoon enrichment 1-5 days
-Add lunch/enrichment in January: 12:15-2:45 p.m.

Pre-Kindergarten: Four and Five-Year-Olds
M-F: 8:30-11:00 a.m.
Additional options include:
-Add lunch 1-5 days
-Add afternoon enrichment 1-5 days
-Add lunch/enrichment in January: 12:15-2:45 p.m.

Before Care is offered from 7 am to 8:15 am, with After Care available until
 6 pm.

Hawken School | Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106