Early Childhood Program
In conjunction with our Discovery Learning approach to early childhood instruction and current research in early childhood education, specific learning expectations and developmental benchmarks have been developed for the curriculum.
Bible and Literacy
Our Early Childhood program is replete with sound doctrine that teaches our students the joy of learning biblical truth and putting that truth unto action. Our literacy program creates a language-rich environment by encouraging oral expression and the development of phonemic awareness through the phonics-based Abeka curriculum. We also offer interactive stories, songs and games; we embed literacy experiences in play-based learning centers; and we foster the understanding that print carries a message. Print concepts are enhanced through shared reading experiences, journal writing (student speaks/teacher writes), the introduction of a variety of text types, and by maintaining a classroom environment where print is seen in many contexts. This is extended in the dramatic play area, where settings, props and costumes are frequently changed to stimulate language development and creative thinking, and provide exciting opportunities for social interaction.
The Early Childhood program establishes a foundation for mathematical thinking by encouraging hands-on, multi-sensory exploration in a prepared environment. Shapes, patterns, relationships, measurements and numeracy are introduced and enhanced by using materials specifically designed to highlight mathematical concepts. Opportunities for problem-solving in a collaborative, social context become the basis for data analysis, making predictions and drawing conclusions. Children learn to identify numbers, to count, to sequence, to identify and create patterns, and to group.
Science and Technology
The mission of the Early Childhood science program is to cultivate an appreciation of the natural world by using a hands-on, experiential approach to learning, encouraging experimentation and instilling a sense of curiosity and wonder about the created world. Our curriculum provides opportunities for developing knowledge and understanding scientific principles through activities based on process skills that emphasize observing, making comparisons, classifying, measuring, predicting and communicating. Our new, mobile TNT lab allows our students to have technology at their fingertips as they use iPads and tablet computers.
Our Early Childhood teachers work with the FCA librarian to cultivate early literacy and expose children to a wide variety of books and materials. EC families also are encouraged to visit the library to borrow books and foster in their children a love of reading at a young age.
Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are introduced to 4-year-olds in Early Childhood through songs, games and stories that engage children using a lively, interactive format.
Music and Movement
Our Early Childhood students experience music and creative movement as separate classes. Music is taught by Mrs. Carolyn Mathews. Basic music concepts covered include steady beat, exploring sound sources, rhythmic speech, rhythmic movement and the singing voice. Structured Eurhythmics activities are a backbone of the Early Childhood music and movement curriculum. Music, movement and rhythm are used to develop sensory motor skills and to capitalize on every child's natural sense of creative expression. Hand bells are taught to our 4 year olds.
Movement is taught by Stretch & Grow. Held in our Multi-Purpose room, our Early Childhood physical education program provides a nurturing environment filled with developmentally appropriate movement opportunities. Through movement, a young child can develop her/his relationship to space and to peers, as well as the ability to follow directions and to select enjoyable activities that are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. The importance of locomotor and manipulative skills is addressed throughout the year. Activities involve refining body awareness, spatial awareness, balance and sensory integration and are designed to encompass a broad developmental spectrum that reflects the varying rates of physical growth and maturity in the early years.
A unique blend of additional options include private lessons in dance, drums and piano performing arts for our 3- and 4-year-olds. Lessons are scheduled in the late afternoon between 3 to 5 PM. We have found that our students also benefit from a relaxed time for rest as well as free play. Lunch and snack are also a wonderful social time for children to enjoy one another’s company.
Informal assessments take place daily through teacher observations in the classroom as well as outside the classroom as the children interact in other environments. In addition, formal assessments target specific skills and areas for development. Our EC faculty has developed our own authentic assessment for early learning called SOARS (Students Observation Assessment Reporting System).
The prepared learning environment is intentionally designed to encourage independent exploration as well as collaborative play. The children are engaged in a continual process of assessing and reflecting on their own learning.
In the same context, the classroom teacher is able to assess student progress from the invaluable perspective of an observer. Watching the children engage in collaborative play, for example, spotlights the development of social competencies as well as language skills.
Beyond the classroom, the playground and other learning spaces become backdrops for assessing gross motor skills and social interactions.
Entering into the children's play enables the teacher to more specifically assess learning. Suggesting extensions to an activity (making a shopping list, counting the blocks in a tower, stringing beads in a pattern) becomes a means of assessing skill development in a targeted area. Teachers use anecdotal records to track these informal observations.
Working with children individually or in small groups on task-specific activities such as journal-writing or games involving numeral recognition or counting, cutting-and-pasting art projects and phonological awareness, enables teachers to purposefully assess specific skills. Teachers then utilize individualized follow-up activities that focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each learner.
As the need arises, FCA works with parents to provide assessments for children utilizing outside resources. Qualified professionals offer speech, language, hearing and vision screenings, for a fee, when a student’s developmental profile indicates that the child might benefit from services or therapies. We also assess students for Kindergarten readiness.