Our Preschool provides whole group activities, small group activities, and individual activities for the children. Various art media are presented daily and are used by the children to create their own product. The classroom is divided into learning areas which include the art center, science or discovery center, block center, manipulative or fine motor center, library corner, quiet corner, sensory table, dramatic play, writing center, listening center, computer center, and the music center. Children are encouraged to participate in self-selected activities in these centers, which are pursued either on their own or with teacher guidance and assistance. Each class plays in one of our 3 playgrounds every morning and afternoon for at least 1/2 hour each time. Nature walks and outdoor learning activities are integrated into the curriculum and current themes. Group 5 has Chapel, Motor Skills, Music, and Spanish bi-weekly. All activities are responsive to individual differences in ability and interests.
The curriculum for our Group 5 class expands on the skills developed from previous years. The children continue to acquire knowledge about the physical and social worlds in which they live through playful interaction with objects and people. Children are provided with many opportunities to practice their writing and literacy skills, self-help skills, cooperative skills, fine and gross motor skills, technology skills, and socialization skills. During this school year, the teacher strives to encourage independence and risk-taking, while promoting an environment that is nurturing and safe.
In our classes we take a balanced literacy approach. Receptive and expressive language is encouraged to develop further in circle time and every-day interactions between the students themselves, and between the student and the teacher. Language development is further enhanced through targeted vocabulary that is carefully coordinated by the teacher for each unit of study. Language learning and the printed word are further expanded through “Handwriting Without Tears,” the core of our handwriting curriculum. Many children in this age group will take interest in concepts of print skills, such as writing their own name or the first letter of their name, and may begin practicing emergent literacy skills daily. The child may also begin to recognize letters in the alphabet and develop phonemic awareness skills, such as letter-sound correspondence knowledge. Typically, the child will enjoy practicing writing and begin to understand that print carries meaning. Drawing, copying words and letters, and inventive spelling is encouraged in these classes. Often, an enhanced interest in books, reading, dramatic play, and puppetry is seen and the classroom teachers will facilitate these interests. Children are exposed to a print-rich environment and are participants in multiple literacy based interactions, stories, and other activities daily. Creativity is fostered through all of the classroom centers and language and literacy skills are an embedded part of the curriculum.
Continual learning occurs in the learning centers. Growth in the complexity of the block structures is a prime example. The children continue to develop mathematics concepts in the block center, sand and water table, manipulative center, and in the dramatic play area, as well as other areas. Our formal mathematics curriculum is “Building Blocks,” from SRA. Abstract mathematics concepts are made more concrete through the use of manipulatives and hands on/minds on learning strategies. Materials and time are provided for children to explore and learn about the environment, to exercise their natural curiosity, and to experiment with cause and effect relationships, thus promoting cognitive development.
Overall, the children enjoy a greater variety of experiences and more small and gross motor activities such as cutting with scissors, using smaller manipulatives, lacing activities and other materials to strengthen small muscle development, painting, throwing and catching activities, dancing, and various movement activities. Outdoor play and Motor Skills class further develop large motor skills.
Opportunities are provided for the children to demonstrate and practice their newly developed self-help skills. At this age, the children will progress through various stages of play. The children will play alone (solitary,) side by side (parallel,) or with 1 or 2 other children (cooperative). As they near 5 years of age, some of the children will play in larger groups (socio-dramatic play, organized games, or games with rules). While playing in these groups, the children begin to learn and practice various problem solving techniques and conflict/resolution approaches.
The children experiment with and enjoy various types of music and art. The 4-year old classrooms have one computer in each room, which the children use throughout the day. Beginning computer skills and terminology are learned, while enjoying various educational software or working in a small group with a teacher.
Our Group 5 lead teacher is Laurie Shields-Sanders and the assistant teacher is Carolyn (Carrie) Emerson.