Choosing a Pre-School
If you read last week’s post about why Wonders is a play based program (read here if you haven’t already) you know why we believe in teaching the whole child and why quality early learning and care is so important. This week we will delve into what makes a preschool the right choice for you and your family.
Both our of early learning programs at Edgemoor and Leland are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Dedicated to improving early childhood education, the association offers a voluntary accreditation process for high-quality programs.
Meeting the NAEYC program standards is the backbone for accreditation. These standards are based on the latest research in early childhood education and are substantiated through evidence that meets the hundreds of criteria essential for high-quality early-childhood education. Programs must meet 100% of required criteria and 80% of additional criteria upon which they are assessed within each standard to achieve NAEYC accreditation. (source)
These standards are:
- Promoting positive relationships between children and teachers.
- Implementing a curriculum that supports learning.
- Teaching that supports curriculum goals.
- Establishing a system of assessment for children’s learning.
- Promoting the health of children.
- Employing teachers who have a professional commitment.
- Maintaining relationships with families.
- Identifying community resources to support goals.
- Maintaining a safe physical environment.
- Having program management follow policies to maintain high-quality experiences for children, families, and staff.
In quality preschool programs, the curriculum, teaching strategies, and environment reflect research-based knowledge about the way children develop and learn. Such programs are said to be developmentally appropriate. Teachers in programs like these consider the strengths, interests, and needs, as well as the culture and home language, of each child in the group.
Here’s how Wonders approaches important areas of development for preschoolers by using NAEYC accredited research.
- Intellectual Development
- Social Development
- Large/ Fine Motor Skills
- Language Development
These are the main areas we cover in our weekly learning plans created for each class. Teachers observe each individual child for specific learning objectives in each of those areas and record and track progress in these dimensions in our Gold assessment system. Wonders uses the Teaching Strategies Gold Online Assessment System to carefully observe each child’s development and document their learning. In each learning area, teachers use on-going, in-context assessments to determine each child’s current skill level. They use this information to then plan daily small group lessons aimed at taking children to the next level in that specific skill progression.
The road to reading is built out of letter-sound learning, practice with print, and a love of stories. Wonders teachers plan a balanced approach to literacy by developing children’s phonemic awareness, their understanding of how print works, and their story comprehension. In our Pre-K classes, children express themselves on paper, play with language, and explore letter formations.
In our classrooms, math matters as children playfully develop number sense using three dimensional materials. Each day, children compare and estimate quantities, construct shapes, and create patterns. They develop their numeracy skills in real-life contexts through activities such as cooking with recipes, counting up class votes, measuring our heights, using tally marks to count sets, and writing numerals to record discoveries. Math language and scientific discovery tools are used to make sense of what we experience each day.
We design science experiences that stimulate questioning and discovery. In small groups, teachers introduce components of the scientific method. Teachers support children as they develop hypotheses about topics that interest them, test those hypotheses through trial and error, and draw conclusions from their observations. Wonders children are motivated to seek answers to questions like:“When will my bean plant sprout?”, “What will happen if I hold the ramp up higher?” and “How can I get my paper airplane to fly longer?”
- Social Emotional Skills
At Wonders, we know success in school, as in life, requires social skills and emotional regulation. We believe social competence and confidence develop when teachers plan activities that teach self-help, self-regulation, and communication skills. Cooperative games, paired peer creations, and multicultural, community experiences foster social-emotional success. Learning at Wonders is hands-on AND hearts-on!
- The Arts
In our classrooms, the focus is on creating, not crafting. Wonders children express themselves daily through drawing, painting, dancing, singing, trying new instruments and taking on dramatic roles. Process-oriented art experiences are infused into all areas of study. We offer a wide selection of creative materials to engage all of the senses and our teachers introduce new techniques and tools so children can unleash their imaginations.
Interested in learning more about our early learning programs?
We have a community day open house at Edgemoor Early Learning (4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland) and Leland Early Learning (4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase, Maryland) programs on October 22nd! Keep checking our website or visit our Facebook for upcoming details.