When I started my own daycare business, I couldn't find curriculum kits that provided the guidance I needed for working with younger children. I tried many different plans. I nneded something that worked well, wiht the age group of our children, easy to manage as a small group and yet prepares children to be academicly and socially ready for kindergarten.
After completing many college courses in the study of curriculum methods and development, I decided to design my own. I was also creating content for my own two children whom I home schooled for eight years. I've developed a curriculum plan that fits the structure of a small preschool. I call it "Home Grown Learning'.
Home Grown Learning curriculum follows the Missouri Standards of Early Childhood Education. It is designed to touch on many areas of the standards set for early childhood. Each month we choose a theme, a letter, number, shape, and color. Every month is centered around the focus objectives we are learning. Some of or materials are ordered from outside resources as Funshine Express, Higher Reach and online teaching sites. I've designed a lot of my our materials to reuse and represent throughout each year.
We learn by reviewing charts, posters, enhancement worksheets, and singing songs. We also have reading time, do finger plays, puppet shows, arts and crafts, and so much more. We focus on hand writing, early math, and reading readiness. Children are given professional assessments to see what we need to place more focus.
By the time our children are about to enter kindergarten, they are expected to know basic objectives such as colors and shapes, recognize, spell and write their names, remain seated while being attentive during story time, can perform self- help skills such as tying shoes, along with a few added concepts like knowing basic baby sign language, and some Spanish.
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Preschoolers do well in a group setting that is well structured allowing familiar routines and flexible schedules. We manage our day by creating blocks of sessions for different activities. These activities range from group learning to bathroom breaks. Each session is designed to hold the children's interest while keeping them enthusiastic and comfortable.
We open our doors very early for those parents who need early drop-off. These children are usually still tired and need some time for early morning rest. We allow children the option of resting or watching a quiet television program during the first hour until it's time to get up and moving.
Around 7 am, children begin MORNING WORK. Morning work consist of solo learning activities such as practice writing their names in their name folder or painting in the Water Wow books.
Mid - Morning:
Our day of scholastic activity begins around 9 am. We set together as a group and go over daily objectives such as alphabets, numbers, shapes, and colors. While together we sing, have story time, do finger plays and many other group activities of enhanced repetitive learning skills. The group will last as long as the children stay interested. This may be from 15 to 20 minutes on a great day. We follow with craft time, enhanced worksheets, or story time. We head out to the play yard for outdoor games and exercise.
Depending on the weather, children are allowed time to explore in our play yard. If the weather is good, we will play inside. The children get a chance to exercise their large motor skills with tumble mats, tents, and other in door fun activities.
We celebrate holidays with big parties and birthdays with cake and ice cream. The children look forward to our preschool parties. We get to celebrate each other and learn about different cultures.
After a must needed nap and our snack, we go directly into our Afternoon Meeting. We set together to discuss the calendar and weather. We talk about what we enjoyed about our day. We set up our Learning Centers and choose our assignments. The children take turns playing in each learning center set up in the playroom.
Most children have gone home by 4 pm. We have some children who don't arrive until mid morning and generally go home after 4 pm. We offer a second snack and will set up board games or coloring.
Learning not only happens during scheduled activities, every minute is a learning opportunity! We take exploration field trips to the park, restaurants, the zoo, Kaleidoscope, the library, puppet plays, water parks and even Shawn's important outings such as dentist appointment. Children are trained to behave appropriately while on our outings. The variety of planned activities help prepare children to succeed academically and socially. Children will will the foundation needed to go on to Kindergarten with confidence.
We incorporate extracurricular activities such as yoga, cooking and music lessons. These lessons are taught by local professionals who enjoy coming in to work with the children. We plan for one class per quarter. We will go on field trips places like the zoo, Kaleidoscope, pumpkin patch or fire station. We try to schedule at least 2 per year.
We may go on outings to the park, or McDonald's. These are usually planned with short notice. We love to have presentations from community organizations. We have had visits from police officers, Santa, animal shelters. We try to schedule at least one during the winter months.
OUR FIRST PRIORITY IS TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONAL RESPONSIVE CARE.
Responsive care is based on the relationship between the child and the caregiver. The caregiver's job is to make sure the child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs are being considered. The child and caregiver form a bond of security and trust. Our children have a sense of stability and love. This system of nurture is the stepping stone to introduce highly effective opportunities to involve academics for school preparation.
"Research shows that healthy brain development in young children depends on the degree of responsive care received during the primary years."
We understand that young children need tools to help them develop. Children learn by doing. Playing is very important for children to learn. Through play they learn the knowledge of math, literacy, and science. Play enhances motor and visual perception skills. During play emotional growth takes place with peer interaction. Children become self - confident, are filled with curiosity and enjoy friendship at play time. Our daycare has the environment that offers opportunities to explore and grow. We provide all the materials to do so.
Children also need to learn through routine while placed in a structured environment. Our curriculum is designed to enhance the skills children need to thrive. While at our preschool, our children are not placed in front of a television or set in a toy room all day. We offer a day filled with free and instructional play along with plenty of time set aside just for academics.
Our goal is to prepare our children for kindergarten. We consider it to be a kindergarten PREP curriculum. Our curriculum's main focus is about creativity, social skills such as working with other children, taking turns, following simple instructions, table manners, self-care such as brushing teeth, potty training, and motor skills. Christian values are also taught to our children so that they are aware that God does exist and we all are equally loved by Him!
We partner with parents in potty training. Our goal is to get them potty trained with full success. Most of our children become well trained before aged 3.
I created our system we call "Potty Like A Rock Star!". This process assures that the child becomes fully potty trained at the appropriate time. Most children begin around 20 months old. They have to display the signs before we will begin the process. Parents must take part in helping us assist the child in becoming an independent Potty Star!
What signs we look for:
Once parents and staff agree that the child is ready to begin, the parents are encouraged to start during a weekend at home. Parents receive our guide that helps them step by step with the process. We will begin training while at preschool. We make sure to take the child every hour. We will start the first week with pull - ups. We switch to cloth training pants that are provided and washed by us.
Each day will get the child closer to being able to wear "big kid" under wears. We never punish the child. We only encourage and support with praise and a proven reward system. Most children only need anywhere from two weeks to 2 months potty training. It all depends on the child and the support system. If the child is not showing any interest or delays, we may refer parents to seek out side resources.
Once the child accident free wearing under wears for a week, we may consider the child fully potty trained. We will have a small celebration and present the child with a Potty Like A Rock Star certificate of completion! A new contract will be signed to start the reduced weekly tuition as a toilet trained student.