Do you follow a certain curriculum?
Our curriculum is based on providing a developmentally-based environment and thoughtful interactions between children and teachers which enhances self-esteem and promotes problem solving skills.
The child’s day includes a generous amount of time for exploration and experimentation in the classroom learning centers. The basis of an early childhood classroom is that children learn through play. The children need the time to repeat activities and work with a variety of tools to build their skill sets. The classroom centers include writing center, reading center, block play, dramatic play, science center, sensory table, table manipulatives, and art (easel, collage table, and messy art table). We have a large, fully developed playground that serves as a part of our curriculum. It includes a play structure, boat, covered sandbox, covered play area, bikes and scooters, many child-created art pieces, raised planter beds and playhouses.
The teachers prepare the environment according to the children’s interests and developmental needs. Through the exploration of the classroom environment the children are naturally weaving cognitive activities into their social play. An example of this is building a house with the blocks. Socially the children are role playing the characters of a family. They work together, negotiating with each other, the design for the house. Cognitively, they are working with different shapes and sizes. They are experiencing spatial relationships, fitting and adjusting pieces to create a shape. They are counting, matching and sorting while in this process. They are developing language while discussing their roles and the building. Symbolism is used in the representation of blocks for a house and furniture. This entire activity is filled with prereading and prewriting development.
Independence is fostered by encouraging the child to make his/her choices throughout the day using a schedule which is consistent and predictable, and trusting the children to make choices about how they use their time. The teachers work with the children during their play to develop the problem solving techniques and deepen/enrich the learning opportunities that create the basis of our curriculum. Learning to negotiate with each other is a life-long skill and a natural by-product of problem solving that will serve our children well into adulthood.
Opportunities for small and large group interactions are planned during the session. They may include time to check in with each other and discuss a project that the group is working on or perhaps share ideas on a developing project that the group is starting. Building community in the classroom promotes caring, respect, and confidence in each other.
Teachers share their curriculum planning with parents through calendars and newsletters. The teachers assess the children informally during classroom sessions. Teachers are trained in the assessment tool during program training and reviews. The daily schedules are posted in the classroom and the parents meet with the teachers twice a year for formal conferences. Parents are always welcome to volunteer in the classroom to see the children carrying out their work.
Academics in the Classroom
The classrooms are thoughtfully designed to offer children rich and varied learning opportunities.
The academics can be seen throughout the classroom learning centers. The daily schedule creates the structure within which content can be varied, sequenced, repeated, supported, and extended. Each classroom includes a block and manipulative center, dramatic play center, reading center, writing center, art center, science center, and sensory center. The centers reflect key concepts and skills that the children are being introduced to or are mastering with repeated exposure. Social: Children need opportunities to work alone and with others. Self-directed time provides the choice to work alone, in pairs, or in spontaneous groups. There are also routine group times planned by the teachers that allow time to introduce new concepts and give the children a forum for community building, sharing and listening to each other’s ideas. Language is experienced throughout the classroom beginning with modeling by the teachers and parent volunteers. Learning centers are developed with many language opportunities. Books are included in the centers that relate to the theme of the center to deepen the interest level and extend play with new content. Vocabulary is built and oral language is strengthened with discussion among teachers and children. Written words are included; and at times created by the children to label items in the center and begin that association of words that symbolize “things”. Reading occurs spontaneously throughout these centers as well as at group time. Reading includes time to predict what will happen in the story, discussing the characters, their roles, and the sequence of the story. Language developed through problem-solving in the classroom with teachers and children builds their self-esteem and social “tool box”.
Logical/Mathematical knowledge is a natural consequence of play in the classroom. Working with the blocks the children are matching, sorting, patterning, and counting. They put blocks together and then rearrange (playing with spatial awareness) to fit them into their design. When children are developmentally ready, objects begin to take on permanence resulting in one-to-one correspondence. The ability to count and experiment with addition and subtraction is included in many activities during the class day, i.e. counting their peers at group and determining how many children are missing. Children begin classifying by sorting and matching, categorizing items such as forest animals versus farm animals. Putting things in order (large, medium, small) and making comparisons while measuring pumpkins. Science is fully explored with the senses, while manipulating, combining, and transforming materials. As an example, while baking, the children are observing, comparing, classifying, inferring, and predicting. They are working with various tools, reading the recipe and documenting their findings (i.e.,charting their favorite cookie flavor) for review with the others at group time. The academic’s are woven into the curriculum without over-powering the elements of social/emotional developmental readiness. Children will enter into play based on their development. The learning centers are designed to support the various children’s abilities and interests.
Children interact socially with their peers and teachers creating a positive, emotional experience in the classroom. We feel that developing problem-solving skills eases the children’s transition into the next classroom experience. This social/emotional element in the classroom is key to our play-based curriculum.
Preparing children for Kindergarten and First grade?
We are preparing the whole child, socially, emotionally, physically, cognitively (reading and writing, math, science), and creatively.
Socially: Our children work with each other in a cooperative and nurturing environment. Problem solving is modeled throughout our classrooms by teachers and peers. This becomes a natural and familiar course of handling disputes and disagreements with each other, creating a stage for developing valuable social skills for life. Being able to express their thoughts and feelings is an important skill for children entering elementary school.
Children at A Child’s Way learn to work independently as well as cooperatively with others. They experience opportunities to work and focus on a project without interruption. They also experience group meetings which model many skills including good manners, good listening skills, taking turns, speaking in front of the group, and building a sense of community while respecting each person for their uniqueness.
Physically, our children enjoy the large playground at A Child’s Way with varied opportunities to build their motor skills. The teachers include structured games as developmentally appropriate for the age level although this time is largely self-directed to allow the child to build their individual skills. Fine-motor development is a basic building block of pre-reading and pre-writing. It is developed throughout the classroom with almost every activity, i.e. using the scissors with the playdough, using a fishing pole to catch letters in the water table, painting at the easel, or building with small cubes. Writing can be very frustrating if a child has not had time to refine their hand control and strength.
Reading and Writing develop once the child has had many exposures to the pre-reading and pre-writing skills. A child needs to have hands-on experiences with real things to be able to build an interpretation of his/her world. How can you read about an apple if you have never held and touched an apple, smelled an apple, tasted an apple, or seen the inside of an apple? Reading and Comprehension come out of these basic concepts. Children need many, many experiences. They need to go places and do things, i.e. camping, fishing, museums, theatre, library, zoo, OMSI, etc… Our program builds on these experiences and widens our children’s understanding of their world, through field trips and science explorations in the classroom and natural play outdoors (i.e. gathering dandelions, looking for worms and roots in the dirt). Each class focuses on a long-term study using the STEM/STEAM concept (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).
Children are introduced to letters, numbers, and phonics through play. These concepts are intentionally included in games, songs, fingerplays, manipulatives, etc… They can be found in every learning center in the classroom. Teachers use every opportunity to weave these skills into the course of the day. Perhaps the class will go on a shape hunt, or identify patterns on the calendar, or play with addition and subtraction while counting their peers at group time. A small group might create their own bingo cards choosing which letters will go on their individual cards. Much discussion about the letters heightens the learning. Playing Bingo may start with the teacher giving the sound of the letter and having the children help each other identify the letters. The game continues until all the children have completed their cards making it non-competitive.
Language development is enhanced as teachers discuss the content, characters, and sequence of the stories with the children. They ask the children to predict what will happen in the story. This develops vocabulary, listening skills and abstract thought.
A Child's Way uses the nationally recognized "Creative Curriculum" as a guide for reaching and exceeding the standards of Common Core Curriculum used in Oregon Public Schools. Skills and goals for children are outlined on a developmental continuum. Teachers are mindful of these developing skills and intentionally design their curriculum to reflect the children’s interests and needs.