CORE KNOWLEDGE PRESCHOOL SEQUENCE SKILLS

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1 ST. KATHARINE DREXEL CATHOLIC PRESCHOOL CORE KNOWLEDGE PRESCHOOL SEQUENCE SKILLS Religion Language Arts History/Geography Mathematics Bible picture stories Songs Holy Days Daily Prayers Chapel visits (occasionally) Stewardship Oral and expressive language skills Emerging literacy skills letter recognition Letter/sound association, Formation of written letters Nursery rhymes and simple poems Storybook reading and storytelling Fairy Tales and fables Fiction and non-fiction Writing Time: Vocabulary Measure of time Passage of time (past, present, and future) Space: Vocabulary Actual & represented space Simple maps Basic Geographical concepts Respect and safety Stories: history & culture Patterns and classification Number and number sense Money Addition and subtraction with concrete objects Geometric shapes and spatial relationships Measurement Science/Nature World Language Visual Arts Music Human characteristics, needs, and development Animal characteristics, needs, and development Plant characteristics, needs and growth Physical elements (water, air, light) Seasons Gardening Stewardship Introduction to world language and culture Attention to visual detail Creating art (printing, painting, drawing, collage, sculpture) Looking and talking about art (art appreciation) Library Physical Education Work Habits Read Aloud Stories correlating to core knowledge and virtues curriculum Study various authors and illustrations Play Games Sportsmanship Spatial awareness Movement Exploration Sense of self and personal responsibility Respect for others Working in a group setting Memory skills Following directions Task persistence and completion Listening skills Concentration & attention span Thinking skills Attention to difference in sound Imitate and produce sounds Listen and sing Listen and move

2 CREATIVE CURRICULUM Objectives for Development & Learning* Social - Emotional 1. Regulates own emotions and behaviors 2. Establishes and sustains positive relationships 3. Participates cooperatively and constructively in group situations Mathematics 20. Uses number concepts and operations 21. Explores and describes spatial relationships and shapes 22. Compares and measures 23. Demonstrates knowledge of patterns Physical 4. Demonstrates traveling skills 5. Demonstrates balancing skills 6. Demonstrates gross-motor manipulative skills 7. Demonstrates fine-motor strength and coordination Language 8. Listens to and understands increasingly complex language 9. Uses language to express thoughts and needs 10. Uses appropriate conversational and other communication skills Cognitive 11. Demonstrates positive approaches to learning 12. Remembers and connects experiences 13. Uses classification skills 14. Uses symbols and images to represent something not present Literacy 15. Demonstrates phonological awareness 16. Demonstrates knowledge of the alphabet 17. Demonstrates knowledge of print and its uses 18. Comprehends and responds to books and other texts 19. Demonstrates emergent writing skills Science and Technology 24. Uses scientific inquiry skills 25. Demonstrates knowledge of the characteristics of living things 26. Demonstrates knowledge of the physical properties of objects and materials 27. Demonstrates knowledge of Earth s environment 28. Uses tools and other technology to perform tasks Social Studies 29. Demonstrates knowledge about self 30. Shows basic understanding of people and how they live 31. Explores change related to familiar people or places 32. Demonstrates simple geographic knowledge The Arts 33. Explores the visual arts 34. Explores musical concepts and expression 35. Explores dance and movement concepts 36. Explores drama through actions and language English Language Acquisition 37. Demonstrates progress in listening to and understanding English 38. Demonstrates progress in speaking English *TeachingStrategies, Inc.

3 ST. KATHARINE DREXEL CATHOLIC PRESCHOOL Foundation Theory and Research Until the 20 th century, little scientific attention was given to study how children grow and develop. In the past 75 years, however, research has provided a great deal of information about childhood as a separate and distinct stage of life with its own characteristics. The application of this body of knowledge to teaching is called Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Abram Maslow described a hierarchy of needs common to all human beings. The hierarchy demonstrates that basic needs (Physiological Needs, Safety, Belongingness, Esteem) must be met before children are able to focus on learning. In keeping with Maslow s theory, the first priority of the preschool curriculum is to meet the basic needs of the children. The teacher creates an atmosphere in which children feel safe and emotionally secure and have a sense of belonging. Activities and teaching strategies are challenging but within children s reach and give children choices in determining how they will learn. These practices, core to the curriculum, help children to feel competent, make decisions, and direct their own learning. Erik Erikson s theory of the Eight Stages of Man identifies a sequence of issues that need to be resolved for healthy development to occur. Each stage builds on the success of earlier stages. The stages children pass through before and during preschool are: trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame, and initiative vs. guilt. For each, Erikson describes what adults need to provide in order to help children meet the challenges facing them. Because resolving initiative vs. guilt is the primary achievement of the preschool years, the curriculum places a high priority on creating a classroom environment that encourages children to experiment, explore, and pursue their own interests. Brain Research - Findings from research on learning and the brain provide concrete evidence of how and when children learn best. Recent innovations in medical technology have led to new insights. Brain research has found physical evidence to support what Maslow, Erikson, and other prominent theorists have taught us. The wiring of children s brains is positively affected when they are healthy and well fed, feel safe from threats, and have nurturing, stable relationships. The central role assigned to teachers relationships with children is a direct outgrowth of this understanding. Jean Piaget observed how logical thinking unfolds. He divided development into stages and showed that young children think differently from older children and from adults. Piaget s theory identifies stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. The first two stages are relevant to the preschool curriculum. By varying the complexity and levels of prompts, choices, comments, and questions for individual children the teacher invites children into a world of learning that they can manage. Respecting that most preschoolers are in the preoperational stage of development, teachers give children the time they need to master the world of concrete things and situations, and they open the door to the wider world of abstract thinking. Lev Vygotsky s work focuses on the social component in children s cognitive development. According to Vygotsky, children grow cognitively not only by acting on objects but also by interacting with adults and more knowledgeable peers. Vygotsky uses the term, Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), to describe the range of a child s learning in a given situation. The lower limit of the Zone represents what a child can learn when working independently. The upper limit of the Zone represents what a child can learn by watching and talking to peers and teachers. Teachers verbal directions, physical assistance, and probing questions help children improve skills and acquire knowledge. According to this theory what children can do with the assistance of others gives a more accurate picture of their abilities than what they can

4 do alone. The preschool classroom becomes a community, a place where learning takes place through positive relationships between and among children and adults. Children are taught the skills they need for making friends, solving social problems, and sharing. In this environment, each member is a learner and a teacher. Howard Gardner pioneered the theory of multiple intelligences. His work has shown that thinking of intelligence only in terms of standard IQ scores on traditional tests is not always useful because it only measures a narrow range of skills. Gardner suggests that rather than having one fixed intelligence people can be intelligent in many different ways. He has identified at least eight kinds of intelligence: Linguistic/Verbal, Logical/Mathematical, Musical/Rhythmic, Spatial/Visual, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. While all people possess, to some extent, intelligence in all of these areas, most exhibit higher levels in one or more areas. The curriculum applies Gardner s theory by providing opportunities for every child to pursue his or her special talents and to demonstrate areas of strength. The use of interest areas - each with different materials - gives children opportunities to learn using their particular kind of intelligence rather than forcing them into a mold. It gives learning social skills the same level of importance as learning content and includes plenty of physical activity and chances to explore nature, along with traditional academics such as religion, literacy, math, science and history. Sara Smilansky s research focuses on how children learn through play and the relationship of play to future academic success. Smilansky distinguishes four types of play: functional, constructive, dramatic or pretend, and games with rules. Each form of play has a specific format and purpose that helps cognitive and social development. In all play, the teacher watches for opportunities to help children learn, expand their world, and master challenges. Anne Masten (2001), in her review of current research on resiliency entitled Ordinary Magic, concludes that resilience is not a rare quality; all children can be reached by adults who protect their normal development. To date the literature has shown that children develop resilience when they: spend time in a safe, supportive, and stimulating environment, have access to caring, supportive adults who believe in them, can get a sense of their own competence, are exposed to teaching strategies that help them become successful learners. The curriculum and adult actions can support children becoming resilient. These findings are behind the core belief in The Creative Curriculum all children can learn and benefit from developmentally appropriate practice.

5 LEARNING AND THE BRAIN Findings from research on learning and the brain provide concrete evidence of how and when children learn best. Recent innovations in medical technology have led to new insights. Here are some of the elements of brain research that inform the curriculum. What We Know From Brain Research Learning in not a matter of nature vs. nurture; it is both. We used to think that heredity (what a person is born with) was more important than environment (what he or she is exposed to) in determining how much a person learns. In fact, both have a major role to play. Implications For Teachers IQ is not as fixed as once thought. All children benefit from rich experiences in early childhood. Adults and teachers can have a profound influence on all children s learning. The human brain grows as a result of learning and experience. Learning changes the physical structure of the brain. When a new skill or concept is learned, a brain connection (known as a synapse) is formed Learning needs to be reinforced. For a connection to become permanent, it must be used repeatedly. Connections that are not used eventually disappear. Emotions play a significant role in learning. In order to learn, children need to feel safe and confident. Stress, on the other hand, can destroy brain cells and make learning more difficult. Nutrition, health, and physical activity affect learning. Movement stimulates connections in the brain. A well-balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and plenty of exercise support healthy brain growth. The brain is very receptive to certain kinds of learning in the preschool years. Children learn emotional control, form attachments to others, and acquire language skills. Appropriate intervention can promote learning. During the first five years, trillions upon trillions of synapses form in response to learning experiences. With the preschool curriculum, teachers provide many experiences for children, so more connections are made. Children need many different opportunities to practice new skills. Rather than jumping from one topic to another each week, the teachers allow children to explore concepts over time. Secure relationships with family members, teachers, and other significant people in a child s life are essential to learning. How teachers treat children is as important to learning as what they teach. Children are active learners. Daily exercise and time outdoors in nature are essential for health and well-being. The preschool program should provide health screenings as well as nutritious snacks. Teachers focus on skills that are the foundation for all learning. The development of social/emotional competence and language skills is emphasized in the curriculum.

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