From the Director:
CURRICULUM PHILOSOPHY A developmentally appropriate curriculum for young children is planned to be appropriate for the age span of the children within the group and is implemented with attention to the different needs, interests, and developmental levels of those individual children. Realistic program goals are based on regular assessment of individual needs, strengths, and interests. The process of interacting with materials and people results in learning. Learning activities and materials should be real, concrete, and relevant to the lives of the children. However, the normal developmental age range of the children may range as much as two years. The complexity of the materials should reflect the age span of the total group. As children work with materials and engage in activities, teachers listen, observe, and interpret children's behavior. Teachers can then facilitate the children's involvement by making suggestions, asking questions, or adding more complex materials to a situation. Activities and environments will change in arrangement and inventory during the course of the year. Special events will be planned into the curriculum when possible. A curriculum guide assists teachers in establishing an in-depth, quality program for all children in school. This planned program should provide each child with an individual education program that is designed according to the child's particular developmental needs. The child, not the teacher, determines the curriculum. Identification of a child's strengths and weaknesses, based on normative data, offers educational direction to the teacher. Normative data refers to the ages at which the average child achieves essential skills. This school uses its own evaluation checklist/report card designed by the staff. This evaluation checklist/report card enables the teacher to identify the child's skills and to provide a program based on the existing skills. Normative data on child development, sequenced in a hierarchy, which moves from the simplest to most difficult skills, provides the structure for teaching. Proper assessment and prescription identifies the individual child's level in the hierarchy. Instructional objectives are designed for the new skills to be taught. Instructional objectives state a new skill or behavior, which will be demonstrated by the child after he has been taught. These skills are observed and recorded by the teacher. The curriculum consists of the programmed arrangement of time, materials, and tasks to be accomplished. The school environment is arranged to meet the individual needs and developmental levels of each child. The teacher begins by finding out what the child can do through the use of normative data on child development. Two or three weeks may be needed to set aside for this purpose at the beginning of September or whenever a new child enters the program. This assessment will determine the outcome of teaching which goes on in the program. Individual long-range instructional objectives will be written by the teacher based on what the child can and cannot do in each area of development. Beginning where the child is now, the teacher moves toward long-range objectives by teaching one step at a time. Progressing step by step, one skill built upon the other ensures success for the child. The preschool child learns by doing. Through manipulating the environment, the child acquires more and more pieces of information that promote an understanding of the world. Because maturation occurs at its own pace, the hurry-up and pressured approach is not appropriate for the preschool child. One does not need to be at a specific level of achievement at a certain time in order to feel successful. It is the whole child that is important, not the pluses or minuses that mark the child's skill chart. Therefore, different levels of ability are expected, accepted, and incorporated into the planning and implementing of the curriculum. The preschool curriculum is organized sequentially into five units that guide the child on a joyful journey of discovery. The five units--MY SELF, MY FAMILY, MY COMMUNITY, MY EARTH, MY UNIVERSE--are designed to build upon the child's past, explore his present, and challenge his future. Each unit is planned in a manner that encourages creative expression, nurtures self-esteem, and fosters a love for learning. Each unit is comprised of four areas: ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS, MATH, SCIENCE, and SOCIAL STUDIES. Each unit's content is a balanced and integrated presentation that minimizes passive learning through teacher instruction; maximizes active learning through play-filled child-to-child interaction; and expands the child's world through daily discoveries. Although goals are suggested in each unit, the success of the child is neither goal-oriented nor goal-dependent. The preschool teacher understands the age characteristics of the 'typical' child, and to measure success, she factors in the abilities of the 'real' child to make certain that the curricular material is developmentally appropriate. Thus, the curricular 'bottom line' is that it encourages creative expression, nurtures self-esteem, and fosters a passion for learning.