Preschool / Pre-Kindergarten
If we were to have one goal in our Preschool Program, it would be to nurture and facilitate the children’s creativity. Creativity is an instinct born in each of us, which we use to solve and express life’s problems. It is the ability to explore and investigate. It is an expression of our uniqueness. In order to be creative, one needs experience and the freedom to use it.
Our role is to provide the environment, the information, the freedom, and the intellectual development that can help each child strive toward his/her potential. By increasing the child’s perceptual awareness of his/her world, we provide the opportunity to make the world his/her own.
The following is a listing of the content areas we explore:
Developing skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing
Children learn and develop language skills by using language (i.e., by being spoken to, by speaking, by being aware of written language, by being read to, and by having opportunities to experiment and explore with words, letters, and sound). Our curriculum is based on the best current research and practice materials and utilizes a teaching method called “Whole Language,” which is an approach emphasizing children’s natural development.
- The classroom surrounds the children in print and gives them access to the written word. You’ll see many books, lists, charts, notes, labels, computer programs, and letters in the classroom.
- Reading quality children’s literature is part of the daily experience.
- Rhythm patterns and familiarity are hooks upon which to hang ideas. Children enjoy poetry and rhymes and they naturally memorize their favorites.
- Children participate in classroom talks in many ways. They relate experiences, question, collaborate, tell stories, problem solve, report, discuss, and engage in dramatic play.
- Teachers make connections between written and spoken language through recording and scribing children’s words and experiences, making charts, lists, etc.
- The curriculum facilitates the child’s progress toward independent reading. This level is often achieved by kindergarten, but may not be reached until the early grades.
- With older groups, we use a variety of published language arts curricula that include basal readers, children’s literature, phonics materials, etc. that contribute to a “Balanced Literacy” approach to literacy development.
Science and Nature
Science is one of the most rewarding and interesting parts of our early childhood program. We focus on everyday things and participate in a series of motivating, problem-solving investigations that use all of the senses. Children are guided to explore, observe, discover relationships,and record and communicate their observations about the world around them. Some of the topics we cover include:
- Animals and their habitats (wild, domestic, and extinct)
- Seasonal changes and weather
- Air and wind
- Light, color, and shadows
- Water and ice
- Constructions: force, motion, equilibrium, and magnets
- Solar system and space
- Rocks, sand, soil, and volcanoes
- Seeds, weeds, and other plants
- Bugs and crawling things
- Our body: how it works and how to take care of it
- Food and nutrition
- Learning about scientists
As children progress through the Three-Year-Old, Four-Year-Old, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten groups, their investigations become more sophisticated. Their ability to describe their observations becomes more precise, and they begin to record their experiences in increasingly meaningful ways, such as through stories, drawings, graphs, tables, poems, etc.
Like everything else in our curriculum, we believe that by doing something, we make it part of us. Children love music and we nourish this love. Each classroom is equipped with a CD player and/or an iPod dock, and listening to music and singing are part of our daily routine. We have soft music for rest and quiet times, and more active music for creative movement. We acquaint the children with different kinds of music, including folk, classical, jazz, and rock & roll. Older children learn about the parts of music – melody, rhythm, and harmony – and how to identify changes in tempo, pitch, and dynamics. They make instruments out of a variety of objects and learn to identify instruments by sound. Throughout the Program years, children enjoy the familiar songs and rhymes of childhood that have always been a source of delight.
Every day children have the chance to experience media and to “mess.” There are lots of opportunities to use open-ended media such as easel paint, finger paint, water colors, clay, playdough, collage, papier-mâché, water-based markers, crayons, paste, etc. We use projects to reinforce other parts of the curriculum. Children might participate in making a cave for a hibernating bear, a log cabin in learning about Abe Lincoln, a rocket ship, holiday decorations, etc.
The Math Curriculum builds on foundations for mathematical understanding by beginning with concrete multi-sensory experiences. Children learn mathematical concepts best from hands-on experience with everyday objects. Through repeated experiences in many contexts, they form the necessary concepts for mathematical understanding. The teacher provides a mix of free exploration of materials combined with guided questioning and independent activities within an atmosphere that is interesting, stimulating, and fun.
Children construct concepts relatively slowly, building up layers of experience over time. Although counting activities may have been introduced previously in a 2-year-old group, it will take several years to develop a fully functioning concept of numbers. The overlapping of concepts in the following sequence represents the curriculum’s attempt to reinforce number concepts as children develop:
- Counting & numbers
- Classifying & grouping
- Reading & writing numerals
- Adding & subtracting
- Money & time
Teachers follow a sequenced activity guide for each area and integrate math activities with thematic units. Classrooms are equipped with Cuisenaire Rods, Unifex Cubes, pattern blocks and cards, attribute blocks and rings, objects for counting, wooden beads, and a variety of teacher-made items.
Through social studies children begin to develop concepts concerning the nature of people and their interactions with others, the heritage of the past, the environment, geography, current events, and other disciplines. Throughout the year we explore the following concepts and topics:
- Living together and relating to others – Learning the rules of living together such as sharing, cooperating, not hurting, problem solving and decision-making.
- Celebrating our differences – Understanding and appreciating differences in culture, appearances and values.
- The world we live in – Exploring the geography of the classroom and the neighborhood, learning about faraway places, beginning map skills, and continent studies.
- Family and personal history – Through photographs and discussions with family members, children begin to develop a sense of the past as well as the present and immediate future.
- People and celebrations of the past – By celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we increase the children’s knowledge of events of the past. We also explore some basic information from American history.
- Taking care of our world – Cleaning up our messes in the classroom and in the world outside is a valuable lesson in the maintenance of our planet.
- Current events – Children delight in circle-time discussions of politics and world problems, where they have the opportunity to discuss factual information and problem solve.
Physical Development and Health
Our stimulating indoor and outdoor large motor play facilities encourage children to run, jump, climb, crawl, swing, and balance. Teachers engage children in active games that develop coordination, dexterity, and cooperation.
Puzzles, beads, laces, scissors, and other manipulatives are used as a part of the daily schedule to develop eye-hand coordination and small muscle strength and flexibility.
Children learn to care for their environment and themselves by learning about their bodies, health routines, nutrition, personal cleanliness, and grooming as well as environmental cleanliness.