It AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PA EARLY CHILDHOOD STANDARDS
St. Paul’s Preschool follows the Pennsylvania Early Standards as we create and adapt our curriculum to the various age groups within our school. Each month I will examine one of the standards we are focusing on in the classes and explain how the teachers are implementing it into their curriculum.
Language and Literacy Development (Vocabulary Acquisition and Use): Standard 1.2 PK.K With prompting and support, clarify unknown words or phrases read aloud and Standard 1.2 PK.J Use new vocabulary and phrases acquired in conversations and being read to
If you walk around each classroom, you will be aware of the literacy rich environment that the children are exposed to each day. Alphabet letters, experience charts noting children’s responses to questions by the teachers, children’s signed artwork and labels on classroom objects and materials are all evident. A child’s school success is directly linked to his/her development of emergent literacy skills. Children need opportunities to see, hear and practice letters and their sounds. This is done age appropriately in each of the classrooms from age 2 up to the pre-kindergarten classes.
Varied opportunities exist for children to develop phonological awareness. These include, but are not limited to:
· Children are first introduced to letters through learning to recognize their names. Attendance cards, job cards and circle name cards reinforce this. By linking the sound of their name with the letters, they begin to link sounds with letters.
· Later, letters are introduced during circle time through cards showing upper and lower case letters and a picture to introduce the sound. Children are assisted with brainstorming other words, real or nonsensical, that begin with the same sound. Pictures and/or clues are often used to make learning fun!
· Games such as “Do these begin with the same sound?” may be played using the classroom Peek-a-Boo Board.
· Songs, finger play, rhymes and stories are used to introduce and teach letters.
· Alphabet charts with pictures are on display at all times and picture word cards of simple vocabulary are at the writing centers in each room.
· By reading stories with rhyming words, the children begin to develop an ear for ending sounds.
· Using letter vests (vests that the children wear with the letters printed on them), the children can physically participate in forming new words and gain an understanding of word families with similar ending sounds as well as words that begin with the same sound (alliteration).
· Children are encouraged to spell and write words using their knowledge of letter sounds to produce cards, signs, etc. Invented spelling often appears in the older classes and is a wonderful indicator that the children are “hearing” letter sounds and are beginning to try to put them together in printed form.
· Each classroom has multiple alphabet manipulatives (magnetic letters, alphabet tiles, blocks, rubber stamps, puzzles, computer keyboards and simple board games for all ages) which the children can choose during their free play time.
· For tactile letter experiences, the children also have a variety of opportunities to trace and create letters with paint, yarn, pipe cleaners, play dough, sand, pudding, shaving cream, markers, crayons and pencils.
· Children are provided with opportunities to experiment and play with the sounds words make through rhymes, nonsense words, poems and music. This is done in the daily reading times with books rich in language sounds
· Listening centers are available so that the children can listen to tapes and “read” the books provided.
Along with visiting the classroom to view the literacy rich environment, please try to arrive five minutes before the end of your child’s class to listen to the daily “wrap-up” by the classroom teacher. At this time, the teacher will explain what was done in the class that day and will introduce you to the various teaching tools and games used to introduce or enhance letter learning and phonological awareness. If you cannot be here at that time but would like to learn how each age group works on these skills, please visit the preschool office. There are classroom portfolios full of photographs illustrating how this is done and information about the literacy development for each age level.
QUESTIONS FOR THE DIRECTOR
Each month I will focus on a question or two from the parents. Please send your questions to the director at: email@example.com
QUESTION: I was wondering how Halloween is handled? Do the costumes need to be storybook related or what?
ANSWER: Wonderful question at this time of the year! I know many parents are concerned about costumes in the preschool or are unclear about how to dress their child for the Fall parties. We do not wear costumes in the two and three year old classes. We feel that the children are just feeling settled into their new environment and do not want to provoke any anxiety. This can be an unsettling and frightening time of year for many young children. Instead of wearing costumes, the three year olds dress a stuffed animal in a costume and have an animal parade! What fun! The teachers run a low-key fall party in the three-year-old class focusing on pumpkins and leaves. Teachers keep the typical days routine in the two-year-old class. The four and five year old classes do have a Fall/Halloween party and can wear simple costumes. We ask that the children do not wear masks since we do not want their vision impaired during the day. Also, costumes with small parts are not appropriate since pieces can be lost as costumes begin to be shed when children become warm. NO COSTUMES WITH WEAPONS ARE TO BE WORN IN THE PRESCHOOL. Weapons, which accompany costumes, will be placed in a child’s book bag. We do not allow these types of toys in our classrooms. The teachers run the class party for the four year olds is still a bit early to have parents run the parties for the four year olds, many of whom have just worked through their separation from mom and dad. They need a few more months of the calm classroom routine before mom and dad come in to help…it might be hard to be separated from a parent or watch a parent help another child at this point in the year. Parents do run our five-year-old parties, since these students are familiar with the school and are comfortable separating from their parents. We always work toward creating safe and nurturing environments for each child and are particularly thoughtful about this often scary and confusing holiday.
QUESTION: Do the children start tracing letters and numbers? Where will my son be at the end of the year when it comes to writing?
ANSWER: Please make sure to read the standard section of this month’s Director’ Corner. This review of how we incorporate the early learning standards for letter recognition and phonological awareness may help answer the first part of your question. Children are offered daily opportunities to work on letters and numbers in a variety of ways. We do this through classroom materials like puzzles, games, tracing and tracking activities, writing centers, math centers with simple math games, number and letter cards, books and songs. Each age level works on letters and numbers in age appropriate ways. You may stop in to the preschool office to see a copy of the PA Early Learning Standards and each age level’s classroom portfolio full of photographs and information about how we teach letters and numbers to the children. You can also pick up the classroom curriculum goals for each age group in the preschool office (this was included in one of your informational packets before your child began their school year). Each child progresses at his/her own developmental rate. Having opportunities to work with letters and numbers at home will help reinforce the learning done at school. Games and books can be provided as well as materials such as puzzles, dominoes, and math/letter fun card games that can be played with family members! It is important to keep learning fun! Sometimes having a special “writing box” at home full of materials such as paper, pencils, markers, word and letter cards, envelopes, old stamps and stickers, etc. can encourage children to practice printing. During parent/teacher conferences, teachers will go over your child’s progress in printing including how he holds his pencil, if he has the proper slant and which letters he can print at that time. You will also be provided with a sample of his handwriting. Keeping up communication with your son’s teacher throughout the school year will give you the knowledge of how his printing is progressing. All St. Paul’s Preschool staff is available for informal conferences any time you have any questions about your child’s development.
Please read the following section each month. I will be introducing our staff members and will review their credentials and qualifications as well as their philosophy of education.
LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO…
Michelle Brown is one of our Purple Class teachers (5-year-old class) this year. She has worked for St. Paul’s Preschool since 2015. Michelle was a four-year-old and five-year-old class teacher at the McKnight center before moving up to our Ferguson center this year!
She has a B.A. degree in History and Secondary Education from Westminster College. She has worked for the North Hills School District as a substitute teacher and worked for several years as a Head Teacher in an early learning center in Virginia. Michelle worked as a private nanny for two years and before coming to St. Paul’s Preschool was an instructor for the Carnegie Science Center (implementing lesson plans that were science theme focused for preschool and home school students).
Michelle believes, “…as an educator of preschool children, I have the responsibility to provide a positive and safe learning environment. I will demonstrate these goals by being a positive role model to the children and my co-workers.”
She is passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts and loves to teach through using stories, games, experiments, and “seeing the world through a child’s eye”. Michelle is creative in her lesson plans and focuses on each child’s individual learning style and strengths.
Michelle is enthusiastic, nurturing and already has a wonderful rapport with the children! We are so glad Michelle is a member of our wonderful teaching team!
Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children