The best approach to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten has been an ongoing topic of discussion among educators and policymakers, both wanting to meet the academic needs of all children. Research has shown that children in academically geared programs must also have time for social engagement with peers through play, and developmentally based programs must provide time for all kids to nurture literacy skills in preparation for kindergarten.
We think that the Preschool can provide a unique opportunity to embrace a preschool learning environment that contains a kindergarten-readiness structure while remaining play-based and developmentally appropriate.
Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents and teachers can do with children. Reading aloud builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent and expressive reading, and helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about. Figuring out words that rhyme, coming up with words that share a beginning sound, and saying silly words all help build a child's phonological awareness — the ability to notice, think about, and play with sounds in words. Young children are like sponges. Every day they learn skills that will help them become readers.
Our dining room makes an ideal cooking lab. As children learn to crack eggs and stir sauce, they also gain new science, language, and math skills. Basic math skills ("are we putting in more salt or baking soda?") and sequencing skills ("what is first…next…last?") give way to fractions ("is this ¾ of a cup?") as your child gains confidence in the kitchen. Kids start out learning to follow recipe directions and then they learn to clean up after themselves when the project is completed. Learning how to safely handle kitchen equipment is an important part of learning to cook. Kids need safety reminders and help with following the steps in a recipe, but they can learn to clean up spills as they happen and to put things back where they belong.
Mathematics and Science
Placing one block on another, arranging seashells in patterns or counting up the number of cereal pieces at snack time — these activities contribute to future understanding of mathematical concepts. In the classroom, kids need to experience materials and activities that promote thinking about the spatial relationships between objects with dice, dominoes, manipulatives, blocks and puzzles.
Like math, science helps kids make sense of their world by prompting them to ask questions, problem-solve and think critically. Preschool teachers build on children’s natural curiosity when gardening, caring for classroom animals, following the changing seasons or studying an object under a microscope.
Play and social learning
Play is paramount to learning and preparation for the academic experience in kindergarten. The ability to work with others cooperatively is learned through the development of play. Understanding how to negotiate, compromise and process the disappointment when not getting one’s way are all important skills for working on a team. Expressing needs to adults and ideas to peers can be challenging for young children, so the practice provided in preschool sets the stage for language expectations in kindergarten.
Pre-writing and pre-reading
Pre-writing precedes actual writing. Pre-writing exercises help children develop their fine motor skills. To be more precise, fine motor skills can be divided into four main components: hand-eye coordination (the eye directs the hand), finger dissociation (moving fingers individually), the ability to stop and start when required, and finger strength or muscle tone. Pre-reading is the step before actual reading. Observing an illustration (interpreting emotions, characters, identifying time, corporal, and spatial concepts) contributes to the efficient development of children's attention span and their ability to discriminate. Associating illustrations to words helps children discover that everything they see can be written and read.
Our comprehensive educational plan is proud to intertwine closely with an interesting and creative look at the world from a child's open and curious perspective. Global Studies is particularly useful in making children from other countries feel more at home, allowing them to share their personal customs with new friends and community. Our curriculum attempts to incorporate as much global and multi-cultural knowledge as possible in the learning process and we touch on themes from around the world such as important festivals, artists, customs, and technology. We hope to foster a great passion for open-hearted investigation of the world at large by uncovering the mysteries and great beauties of the world.
Gym classes provide students with physical exercise on a consistent basis. It is particularly important for the physical well-being of children who do not engage in physical activities outside of school. Gym classes can help teach children skills that can help them be active their whole lives. The physical exertion also helps the mind, as children will find they are able to think more clearly and are able to focus better in other classes following a physical education period. Every week all classes are involved in a variety of activities that increase coordination, such as ball throwing and catching, climbing a child friendly ladder, balancing on a certain point, and much more. Flexibility comes into play with gymnastic activities such as splits, somersaults, backbends and handstands. Such physical skills will help children in athletic pursuits, dance and in everyday movement.
Independence and self-help skills
Being able to separate from loved ones is another critical piece toward academic learning. If children are worried or sad because they’re missing their parents or caregivers, they’ll be distracted and will distract others. Preschool teachers must be prepared to help kids who have trouble saying good-bye, so that they’ll be able to master this skill by kindergarten. And kids who know how to take care of themselves, such as hanging up their jackets or washing their own hands, will feel more confident when asked to do so in the kindergarten setting.