From the Director:
Two Year Olds – 2 classes A first time experience in a school’s setting where a regular schedule is honored with age-appropriate materials and experiences. Much care is taken with early toileting and hygiene. This process must be approached in harmony with the child’s and his/her parents beliefs about toilet training. This group gathers two (T/Th) or three (MWF) days a week for early exposure in several interest areas. It is believed that much is learned from the imitation of others in an intimate group setting. The Two’s will experience early benefits in the classroom even when early speech isn’t evident. Three Year Olds – 3 classes Increased use of blocks, small manipulatives and art materials is stressed as threes, and most especially children 3 ½ years old, have moved beyond critical toileting and separation issues. The threes are now more self-sufficient in terms of physical needs (with only occasional bathroom accidents!). Outdoor play and expressions are a favorite as threes are becoming aware of their physical and social roles with and among other children. In addition, adequate involvement inside the classroom with its incumbent membership issues and its resulting citizenship are critical. Four Year Olds – 3 classes The four year old must be four on or before September 1 st of the entering year. This is viewed as a year of social learning and adjustment wherein the child is being prepared for the essential work habits and listening skills that lie ahead. It is believed that a child who has socialized comfortably will be a better learner. Varying levels of development are met through exposure to a wide range of materials including early calendar awareness, hands on math and early letters and sounds. All of this is explored in a setting of exploration and discovery rather than by a teacher-dominated lecture form of instruction. According to author Jim Trelease: “The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four . . . of secondary importance is to prepare for being five”. All four year old teachers honor this at Good Shepherd School as they work closely with a wide range of developmental levels in a setting where daily arrival is timely and is focused on the child’s independence and adjustment. Pre-Kindergarten – 1 class The Pre-Kindergarten year is offered as a year of “time” for children whose birth dates and/or developmental levels suggest that another year of carefully balanced play and learning will benefit them before their important Kindergarten year. Work habits, listening skills and completion of tasks are viewed as essential in this stimulating setting. Early literacy activities are stressed through symbolism and various forms of self-expression. Kindergarten – 2 classes The Kindergarten year at Good Shepherd School represents a commitment to the whole child as he continues his need for play as his best and strongest expression. As this is honored, the child bridges his world of play needs with a carefully introduced offering of important symbols: numbers and phonics (letters and their sounds). The phonics program will provide a firm basis for the early reading that will begin for some children in Kindergarten and for others in the First Grade. The math curriculum consists of the use of manipulatives that are an outgrowth of the approach that emphasizes learning by doing or hands on counting. The math curriculum, Everyday Learning from the University of Chicago , is taught to the Kindergarten children. In addition, there are wonderful new math materials from the Learning Materials Workshop in Vermont . The pre-reading curriculum is introduced through daily workbook experiences and they are supplemented with hands-on reinforcement for the letters through early sound games and objects. Due to commitment to the phonics curriculum, Good Shepherd School looks very closely at a child’s developmental level (a recommended 5 ½ years old behavioral age) for a comfortable and successful placement in Kindergarten. Children who do well in Kindergarten enter the year with a solid 5 ½ year level of growth, regardless of their chronological age. This fact must be addressed in teacher conferences in the Four year old and Pre-Kindergarten school year. A Gesell Observation of the child (by appointment with the Head of School) can be a helpful tool to determine appropriate school placement. The Incomplete Man is a critical part of the Gesell Observation. The Head of School often uses this with the children for developmental information from age three and upward and she will always share it with the child’s teachers and the parents.