Teachers plan hands-on, minds-on experiences inside and outside based on their knowledge of child development and best practices as well as the needs and interests of the children themselves. On-going assessment of children’s progress includes the gathering of anecdotal records, digital photographs, developmental checklists and work samples. Annual speech, hearing and vision screenings in the fall and the results of nationally –normed developmental screenings (fall and spring) are added to the child’s portfolio to share with parents at two formal conferences each year. Parents also have an opportunity to participate in assessing their child’s development with a parent-report developmental screen, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. All this information gives us a picture of a child’s development and alerts us if more information and support is needed to help a child reach his or her potential.
The St. Margaret’s Early Childhood Development Center plans curriculum to support all areas of a child’s development: cognitive, social, emotional, physical and creative. Our curriculum meets or exceeds the California Preschool Learning Foundations, aligns with goals for young children’s learning from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and serves as the foundation for the St. Margaret’s Kindergarten curriculum.
Learning in preschool is hands-on and integrated. A child’s time outside chasing insects in the garden, for instance incorporates all the ‘dispositions for learning’ as well as cognitive development: science (“What kind of bug is this?” “What do they eat?”); math (“Is it larger or smaller than the other one?” “How many did you find today?”); language (“Monarch Butterflies are orange and black.” “Let’s make up a poem about butterflies!”); social skills (“How can we all see?” “You can have a turn next.”); physical development (running after the butterfly, carefully stepping around plants, manipulating the butterfly net); and creative (painting a picture of the butterfly in its habitat. Dancing and moving like one.)
There is no “math time,” “science time,” or “language time.” Learning is everywhere and happening all the time supported by teachers skilled at looking for and creating moments of discovery and learning based on children’s needs and interests.