CURRICULUM

GIVE THE CHILDREN SOMETHING TO DO, NOT SOMETHING TO LEARN, LEARNING NATURALLY RESULTS - JOHN DEWEY

A high quality early childhood curriculum can establish a strong foundation leading to a student’s future success. At the core of our program is a researched based curriculum led by educated professionals trained in the best teaching practices for cognitive and social development. During whole group activities, such as calendar and guided reading, students are in engaged in meaningful interactions with their peers and teachers, expanding vocabulary and knowledge by using open ended questions and problem solving skills.

As the class gathers at the beginning each session, children free play with their friends and the various toys in the classroom. When everyone has arrived, they sit down as a whole group and discuss such topics as the calendar, weather, attendance, letters, numbers, colors, and shapes, as well as the day’s activities and theme. Then students will move to Learning Centers, which is the bulk of the academic day. Research shows that Learning Centers are a powerful tool in the classroom for developing independence, risk taking, perseverance, initiative, creativity, and reasoning. This small group instruction method focuses on the development of the whole child through literacy, mathematics, fine motor, technology, art and sensory experiences. Children work independently and collaboratively with their teachers and peers building confidence and self-awareness. By utilizing a differentiated curriculum model students are grouped and taught at their instructional level; this helps to minimize frustration and maximize personal success. Daily Learning Centers will include any combination of the following:

Early Literacy

Beginning with oral language, children develop listening comprehension, verbal expression, and vocabulary development. Literacy develops as language skills are stimulated cognitively and linguistically, building a strong oral language base. The alphabetic principle is at the foundation of any reading program; understanding the idea that words are made up of letters, and letters have corresponding sounds, is the foundation for future academic success. By utilizing a scaffolding strategy, teachers will encourage students to recognize letters, then sounds, and finally to put sounds together to form words. As literacy develops, students learn to express thoughts and ideas through written and spoken language. Teachers use a range of strategies such as books, games, magnets, environmental print and songs to provide a rich and stimulating learning environment.

Mathematical Reasoning

Children are constantly involved in the reasoning process: they count how many more pieces of candy they have than a sibling and always ask for five more minutes. At NCCDP, we strive to make mathematics a natural, hands on process, where students are engaged and using logic to decipher problems. While using a living math model students are exposed to activities such as: patterning, sorting, sequencing, matching and counting with manipulative materials. One might also find classes using iPads or games to support each student's growth.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are the small movements children make with their hand muscles. Practice and direct instruction is needed to build muscle and strength in each child. Aside from the typical paper to pencil practice or coloring, children have opportunities to use scissors and play dough, build with small blocks or legos, use pegs and string beads, and manipulate objects with tweezers to strengthen these skills.

Arts & Crafts

The creative process allows us to problem solve, analyze, practice with cause and effect and express emotion. A artistic outlet often leads to deep logical thinkers. Art experimentation and the freedom to make mistakes open new ways of thinking, which extend well beyond the classroom and boost self-confidence. In this center, children explore and experience different mediums, techniques, tools, and art materials. They are encouraged to express themselves creatively or to complete step-by-step instructional crafts, practicing logical thinking and auditory processing skills.

Sensory

In this area, students play and explore the world around them by using their five senses. By engaging in the scientific process young children develop spatial awareness, mathematical thinking, and investigation skills. By squeezing, pulling, and manipulating different textures, the sensory table can relax and inspire intrigue in students, while it focuses on eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills

Outdoors is the very best place for preschools to practice and master emerging physical skills. Physical development is fostered when children play outside, and important socio-emotional and cognitive development grows when they invent games, pretend play, keep score and freely interact with their peers. During recess children run, skip and hop across three expansive and shady areas. They jump, climb, and slide on and around two large structures and dig, pour, scoop and build in the sandboxes. A perpetual favorite are the plentiful riding toys: scooters, tricycles, plasma cars and balance bikes. Older students love the interactive opportunity to play a multitude of sports.

Technology

Technology is a key component in allowing students to demonstrate their creativity and logic skills; technological tools support the child-centered curriculum at NCCDP. In our technology rich classrooms, teachers are able to bring learning to life by watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon or explore letters and numbers on the iPad. We have two sets of iPads that rotate through each classroom, so that all students can use them once every few weeks. PreK classes have computers that utilize the Starfall reading program, and the JuniorK classroom boasts a Smart Board, which allows multiple children to engage with information and activities directly.

Play

When touring NCCDP you will witness many different types of pretend play taking place on any given day. Children dress up, act out and role play different scenarios using imagination to develop stories. Through these activities students are able to experiment socially and emotionally. While playing house, restaurant, or grocery store, construction zone or coffee shop, students use language skills appropriate to that specific setting.

In early childhood, open-ended free play is crucial to development. Children learn through play experiences, and at NCCDP they have daily opportunities to play! Each classroom is stocked with copious toys from block and legos, to dolls and kitchenettes, to puzzles and mazes, to animals and cars, to ... (you get the picture)!