We will begin each day with a large group time to greet all of the children and set the stage for the days activities. We will assign jobs for the children to help them gain a sense of responsibility and accomplishment as well as to create a caring, community type environment. The calendar will be used to teach math and science concepts including skills such as patterning, place value, before and after, seasons, weather observations, predictions, and passage of time. The calendar also offers the opportunity for us to learn about other cultures and family traditions.
Daily concept exploration will include hands on activities that require thought about the concept being explored. Specific goals are set for each activity and all children are encouraged to visit each area set up for discovery.
We have daily large motor/movement activities that allow us to get moving and practice good health and fitness. There will also be ample opportunity for self-directed exploration of gross motor movement and equipment.
Our mid-morning large group time will include books related to the theme of the week and/or concepts being explored.
Activity time will be an appropriate length, which will allow the children to advance through levels of play that satisfy their curiosity and provide enough time for experimentation and self-discovery. Specific objectives for each activity will ensure that the process of play is one toward achievable, challenging goals appropriate for each child to operate at his/her own developmental stage while acquiring the skills intended by the activity.
Self-expression, self-esteem building, and stress relief are offered every day at our sensory table, easels, art tables, and through a variety of music experiences. Often children work through life’s difficulties through expression during activities at school. Rather than becoming aggressive with another child, there is an opportunity to pound the play dough, smear the finger paint, or dance the frustration away.
Getting ample fresh air is important for all children, every day. We will participate in outdoor activities every day, unless weather conditions are too cold or too wet.
Lunchtime as well as snack time is a time for social growth and development. Good manners are required to participate in the outside world and are expected at the lunch and snack tables. We also use this time to discuss healthy eating habits and we encourage you to pack nutritious foods for lunch.
We will have a rest time in the afternoon. It will consist of a story time, story tapes, and a variety of relaxing music. Children who do not actually fall asleep will be offered quiet activities at their mats or at the tables after some time of relaxation. Children (like adults) cannot operate at their personal best when they are tired.
After a good rest children are ready for more learning activities. Fine motor activities, sensory activities, art, additional experiences with concepts, and opportunities to learn board or teacher made games will be offered.
Children’s progress will be evaluated as well. Since we cannot effectively grade children’s physical, social, emotional, creative, or intellectual thought processes with an “A-B-C” or “1-2-3” type grade, more authentic developmental goals have been set.
To assess these goals we will keep samples of work displaying goals achieved; anecdotal records (play by play) of social and emotional skills; teacher observations of special milestones, difficulties and improvements; and a checklist/list of objectives and/or goals in all areas will be maintained throughout the year. Parent/teacher conferences will be formally scheduled, and frequent, informal day-to-day communications on your child’s progress will also be available.
Discipline is handled through simple, yet effective, rules and quality, interesting activities. In the event of conflict, we emphasize problem solving through using our words to work out differences. Time out is reserved for serious events such as aggression. In most instances, we will stay out of conflicts, providing appropriate vocabulary as needed, to allow your child to learn how to work with others to achieve his or her goals.
In kindergarten your child is not only preparing for his/her school career, but for the rest of his/her life. The basic skills of positive social interaction, problem solving, independent thinking, respect for others and their property, and numerous other life skills are a direct product of a developmentally appropriate curriculum. This experience of success in early learning provides a solid social, emotional, physical, creative, and intellectual platform from which to build the rest of life’s learning.
How Will My Child Be Learning?
The following list of activities, or sources of learning, are examples of how a teacher may incorporate a developmentally appropriate curriculum. All of these examples have been used in this classroom, and will continue to be used, while being updated and upgraded as each child’s needs are being met. Subject areas are followed by examples of ways to foster learning in that area.
Language Arts/Social StudiesLiteracy and whole language includes reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Incorporate a variety of good children’s literature that:
- Are Multicultural
- Teaches something
- Relates to theme
- Rhyme, are rhythmic, and are repetitive
- Repeat favorites, change endings, change time or place
- Restock bookshelves frequently
- Discuss stories, stop reading and ask predictions, recall facts
Label items of interest to children
Post signs and labels at children’s eye level
Talk about authors and illustrators
Talk about parts of books
Explain difficult words, use synonyms and antonyms
Discuss places stories occur, or where author/illustrator is from
Have scrap paper and writing utensils readily available/accessible to children
Discuss rules, laws and social skills
Be an example of good manners
Teach respect for others and their property
Answer questions truthfully, “I don’t know, but we can look it up.”
Be sensitive to children’s home life-not all children live in two parent homes
Point out differences as well as likenesses (do not offend)
Use “he/she” interchangeably when speaking about occupation/roles
Use calendar to point out important dates and to discuss time
Dramatic PlayDedicate a space for activity (accommodate noise level)
Use real-life props whenever possible
Have children create additional props
Have children create environment (scenery)
Join in the play to facilitate language
Ask questions to prompt acting out of roles
Point out non-stereotypical roles (non-traditional)
Create costumes, puppets, or just use imagination
Imitate animals, people, and/or machines
Role-play different scenarios
Go on a field trip or have a visitor come in to see “the real thing”
Math and ScienceCount and show patterns out loud
Measure with hands and feet, etc., as well as with formal instruments
Count days, weeks, and months on calendar
Practice before and after, today and yesterday on calendar
Show halves, quarters, etc. when slicing fruit and folding paper
Challenge children to count to 100 or more
Count by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s and 10’s out loud
Cook with children--show measurement, observe and predict changes
Show curiosity and interest in new as well as every day things
Have animals in the classroom
Use scientific words and define them
Allow children to experiment and discover instead of telling or showing them
Discuss children’s findings, use appropriate vocabulary
Chart children’s findings using graphs, pictures, and/or words
Use words like smallest, largest, least, most, etc.
Make collections of “stuff” for children to manipulate
Use books to illustrate themes, answer questions, research the unknown
Experiment with “What if…?” questions
Use magnifying glasses and microscopes to observe common items
Sort objects by use, number of legs, good/bad, and any way the children choose
Seriate large to small, small to large
Have children replicate patterns and make their own patterns
Supply plenty of manipulatives in different sizes and shapes
Observe, compare, contrast, classify, communicate, measure, infer, and predict
Collect record and interpret data
Teach formal science, investigate a specific skill
Provide informal science experiences, little teacher involvement
Seize the moment--teach incidental science (something that just happens)
Music and MovementUse pre-recorded music, musical instruments, sing, and perform finger plays
Read poetry or anything with rhythm
Move to music-classical, country, rock-n-roll; dance (children’s tapes available)
Create original movements or imitate others
Foster freedom in movement and expression
Plan activities showing relationship between self and space
Plan activities showing relationship between self and others
Increase sensitivity in aesthetic judgment
Create/introduce awareness of differences and similarities in cultures
Exercise—relieves stress, releases energy, increases self-esteem
Foster success through encouragement of originality
Have a variety of music experiences-make music, play music, see music, feel music
Experience different beats (tempos)
Make and record own songs, music
Gross MotorUse large muscle groups
Incorporate balance, speed, agility, coordination, strength, flexibility and endurance
Increase heart rate for sustained periods of time
Encourage creative movements to a beat
Increase concentration with relief of stress and release of energy
Discuss and reinforce health and safety related issues
Instruct proper technique if motor movement
Provide plenty of practice time
Create an environment for gross motor exploration
Plan activities specifically to foster specific skills in a sequential order
Reinforce following directions and rules
Encourage good sportsmanship and teamwork
Teach lifelong skills and team sports
Provide enough equipment for all children to participate
Encourage cooperation and personal best, not competition
Provide “adventure activities” for increased self-esteem
Fine MotorUse small muscle groups
Incorporate strength and dexterity
Offer many opportunities for eye hand coordination activities
Manipulation of small objects for future writing skills
Increase attention span through complex manipulatives
Provide sensory activities with water, sand, pebbles, shaving cream, etc.
Encourage self-help skills buttoning, zipping, and tying
Practice pouring liquids and solids
Cut and fold
Sew with real needles or tapestry needles; work with small or life sized tools
Lace lacing cards, have children make their own
Use small equipment like tweezers, tongs, eyedroppers, etc.
Use puzzles which encourage shape identification for reading readiness
Color freely or with pictures (coloring books)
Painting-- encourages creativity and self-expression
Encourage play dough and clay play--excellent strength builders
Begin board games with simple rules or modified rules
Why learning centers?
Providing multiple learning centers allows the teacher to match individual needs and abilities. This allows the child to learn self-direction, initiative in solving problems, independent work habits and cooperative skills in working with small groups of children. Each child operates at his/her own learning level contributing their knowledge to the group and learning from other children in a reciprocal manner.
Young children learn best by being actively involved. Sitting still for long periods of time may be detrimental to learning. Children can learn to be thoughtful of others as they move from place to place and learn self-control and self-discipline without the constant direction of the teacher. Making good choices is an important life long skill.
The Importance of PlayPlay is an activity that does not necessarily result in an end product. Physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth occurs. It enables the growth of children’s minds. It enhances their ability to deal with life problems. It increases the capacity of their imaginations. It builds their muscles. Children learn about the world around them. They can discover something about nature. They can discover something about themselves. They can release stress. They can overcome fear. They can make friends. They can explore similarities and differences. They can apply prior knowledge to make predictions and experiment.
Play is the way a young child learns most efficiently. Rather than waste time telling young children about concepts such as texture and weight, high and low, liquid and solid, the teacher lets the children learn the concepts through manipulation of real materials.
Children’s needs are met through play.
Using math as an example
Many children can count when they enter an early childhood program; however, they do not really understand a number’s meaning. Working with manipulative promotes the ability to conceptualize numbers. Students who can relate the numeral five to five objects have a more important skill than those who can count by rote to one hundred. Paper and pencil math is not an indication of understanding of learning either, but a child playing a board game may be able to divide pieces evenly amongst the players and count out the number on the dice and move the appropriate number of spaces (one to one correspondence).
More meaningful math experiences include keeping score in family games; setting the table (counting correct number of plates, etc.); helping to cook (measure ingredients, set timer, etc.); fold laundry (fractions, symmetry); play shape search around the house; grow flowers (predict sprout time, measure length, examine root system, etc.) and record information. All of these activities help the child achieve a real understanding of mathematical concepts without the pressure of memorizing and recording symbolically. Another problem with pencil and paper type math is many children do not acquire the fine motor control to print numerals clearly; motor development should not hinder mathematical progress.
When will my child read?
Your child will read when he/she has discovered the love of books, has experiences in life outside of the home, and has oral communication skills. Your child must tackle the basics of being able to discern shapes, discriminate sounds, physically hold a book, and follow left to right and top to bottom, before he/she can understand how to decode letters or form words. Most importantly, reading and writing is a process from which only your child can obtain meaning. Foster your child’s reading by reading to him/her; reading in front of him/her; letting him/her “read” a story to you; playing letter hunt games in the car; identifying cereal boxes or fast food restaurants; writing stories down that your child recites. You can also make lists; send letters; and simply include your child in daily activities and conversations. This will increase vocabulary, life experiences and oral communication skills to foster future reading abilities.
Advice on self-esteem
The fastest way to make a child give up is to say “You’re doing it wrong.” If you want to encourage your child to achieve, sometimes it is best to let them be right. If you can’t read what is written let him/her read it to you. If you don’t know what it is, ask him/her to tell you about it. Instead of correcting grammar, repeat what your child said using correct grammar in question form. It takes time and patience, but when the pieces come together it is worth the wait, self esteem in tact.