Young children learn differently than older children and adults. They need to fully experience things by being actively involved in them with all their senses. Although some children are willing to do worksheets and coloring pages, that’s really not the way they learn best. For example, if you wanted to teach a child about an apple, you could give him a worksheet with an apple to color and space at the bottom to trace the word “apple.” However, think how much more exciting it would be, as a child, to get to explore a real apple by touching an apple, comparing the different colors of apples, making applesauce with your friends, tasting the various types of apples rolling apples in paint and then on paper, and making a graph comparing how many children prefer each type. That is how young children learn best! That’s also how they remember the information they learn.
At Learn ‘n Play, we have chosen the widely respected and well-researched HighScope as our curriculum. This curriculum is developmentally appropriate for infants through kindergartners. Our lead teacher, Tammy, has taken many hours of training directly through the HighScope Institute to ensure proper implementation in our setting.
Our day consists of a balance of child-led and teacher-led activities. Children spend a great deal of time in free play. Our classroom and playground are carefully designed and well stocked with a great variety of toys and materials for children to explore. While the children play, the teachers interact with them to help deepen their learning experience.
We divide our group into two small groups for a morning Small Group Time session. We use this time to work on specific skills like letter identification and sounds, number identification, adding, sorting, graphing, and a variety of other age appropriate skills.
Each day we also have a large group time where our entire group sits together. We use this time to read a book or two to the children and generally do some sort of gross motor activity like dancing with scarves to lively music or playing with the parachute. Although both our small and large groups feel like play to the children, they are planned with very specific learning goals in mind.
Another important aspect of early childhood curriculum is something called individualization. This is simply making adaptations to the lesson plans to help each child get exactly what the need from the curriculum. We accomplish this by continually making careful observations of each child’s development and recording the results in the online assessment tool we use, COR Advantage. This tool helps us see exactly what skills each child could use work on and we write our lesson plans accordingly.
All these components help us provide a high quality, developmentally appropriate preschool experience for each and every child in our care.