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Good Shepherd Episcopal School

2206 Exposition Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

Phone:
(512) 476-4393
ext203

Website:

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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Teacher-Led

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.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Afternoon Spanish Enrichment Program Children (Threes through Kindergarten) may enroll in an Afternoon Spanish Enrichment class that meets from 1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. two days per week. Children who are in classes with a noon dismissal typically go first to Lunch Bunch until 1:00 p.m or 2:00 p.m. Parents will be charged for the time spent in Lunch Bunch before or after the Afternoon Enrichment class. Billing for the enrichment program is done on the first of each month (September – May). Afternoon Guitar Enrichment Program Children (Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten only) may enroll in the Afternoon Guitar Enrichment class that meets from 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. or 2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. on Friday. Billing for the enrichment program is done on the first of each month (September – May).

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Good Shepherd Episcopal School provides a warm, affirming, Christian environment for children in their early years of development. For sixty years, Good Shepherd has served many hundreds of families as a school where the child’s individual needs are continually placed first.

Good Shepherd Episcopal School believes that the young child learns through a careful balance of indoor and outdoor play and that all forms of play are essential to the proper social and emotional development that contributes to successful academics. Good Shepherd maintains that each child learns best in an environment that teaches to the child’s own behavioral age. Academics and table work are viewed as essential only when the child demonstrates readiness to focus attention. Good Shepherd believes that careful observation of the child and close communication with the parents allow for the early identification of conditions that may interfere with the learning process.

Good Shepherd Episcopal School’s goal is to provide each child with the opportunity to be prepared socially, emotionally and academically for a life-long love of learning.

A Typical Day

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.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Classroom
The school encourages parent involvement in the classroom. The Lead Teacher in each classroom will ask one parent to serve as room parent. The room parent oversees parties and helps to coordinate board sponsored fund-raising projects that involve the class. Other opportunities for parent involvement include parties, Fruity Friday (or Fruity Thursday in the T/TH program), field trips, special presentations (such as cooking or science demonstrations), reading to students, resources for information or materials and special class-presented programs). Parent involvement in these class activities strengthens the school program. Teachers will have sign-up lists available to parents during the Classroom Open Houses (held the Thursday and Friday before the first day of school).







Parents Group
The Parents Group of Good Shepherd Episcopal School promotes parent education and is open to all parents of Good Shepherd students. The dues from this organization support parent gatherings for coffee and information about the school (watch for announcements of “Conversation with Chris” during the school year). The group also sponsors a Parents Group Speaker, a well known author and authority on early childhood and parenting issues.

School Fundraising, Special Events, Campus Needs
We welcome your interest and involvement in school activities. In August each family receives a Volunteer Interest Sheet that offers opportunities to become involved in areas such as:
Father-Child Barbecue
Parents’ Night and Book Fair
Grandparents and Special Friends Day
Flowers on the Green
Arts Week and Arts Around the School
Art Show and Picnic
Kindergarten Graduation Luncheon
Hospitality (providing food and/or beverages for special events)

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school

Separation

Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school