We begin our morning with our calendar. Not only does this set the tone for the day, it allows us to create shared experiences from which we will begin learning. Math concepts are an integral part of this time, as are guided reading, modeled writing. Children also share their thoughts and news with their classmates.
This is core academic time for students. Children work in small groups of 3-6. These groups are homogeneously and heterogeneously grouped based on children's needs. Classroom aides and volunteers assist the teacher during this time, ensuring center groups remain small and children receive adequate support. The children rotate through several activities during this one - one and a half hour block.
The Spanish curriculum is integrated into the core academic time. Children use movement, games, literature, music, and activities to develop their new language. This ensures that children are taught in a small group setting where individual needs are appropriately met.
Children bring their own lunch to school.
Children participate daily in an enrichment program at the end of the day. These programs include Music, Art, Movement, Lend a Hand (Community Service) and P.E.
Magical Journey has a playground, sandbox, and garden area where children can play outside.
Children are given time daily to make their own activity choices. These choices include imaginative play, games, building with blocks, Legos, drama and puppets, art, writing or reading or participating in a favorite activity from the day.
Four year olds ask 437 questions a day! At least that is what Internet memes report. Regardless of the true number, asking innumerable questions is a hallmark of this age. Magical Journey’s curriculum builds on every child’s innate curiosity and sense of wonder about their world.
These curious kiddos delve into thematic units about hibernation, insects, and farm animals, all providing fun, naturally interesting backdrops for academic concepts. Pre-K children begin using their language to describe, compare, contrast, and solve problems. This natural desire to express their ideas creates the perfect springboard from which to teach literacy. Pre-kindergartners learn letter sounds, sight words, and Turtle Talk. All year, parents will watch as their children slowly, like a turtle, sound out each letter sound and blend them to decode words. Children gain confidence as they begin to read about the world around them! As children are beginning to understand that individual letters can combine to make sounds and words, they are also beginning to build on their numeracy skills.
Pre-K students at Magical Journey receive a solid foundation in mathematics concepts, firmly being able to manipulate numbers 1-20. Children count to 20 both forwards and backwards, start to count from a random number between 1-20, and determine less than, greater than, and equal to. As they advance, they learn number patterns and count to 100. As math concepts are concrete, preschoolers manipulate blocks, bugs, buttons, and beads to demonstrate understanding. Pattern play, another numeracy concept, is consistent across all thematic units. Children move from identifying patterns to making their own patterns to comparing/contrasting more complex patterns. This logic translates to science as they move past simple visual patterns to patterns of behaviors. Students analyze patterns as they raise chicks, test sinking and floating objects, and grow vegetables in their gardens. Students hypothesize and test their hypotheses as they roll pumpkins down the hill to determine which would be the fastest. As important as these academic concepts are, children also need social and emotional development.
Children will often ask complex questions about people rather than concrete academic subjects. These questions are just as vital to their development and require compassionate lessons that help them develop respect and empathy. Our community service component of our curriculum, Lend-a-Hand, explicitly teaches students that they matter, they impact the people and world around them, and they can make a difference. Pre-K children learn that giving back, ‘being a bucket filler’, is something they do to help someone or another person feel happy, in turn feeling good inside. As these children become increasingly social, we support their desire to make friends and interact with others by teaching appropriate social behaviors. We intentionally help children improve their relationships with their peers, communicate the way they feel, and resolve conflicts. We use role-play to help children practice using desirable solutions to conflicts in stories; we use puppets to act out their feelings; and, we even write about interactions between characters. We teach children how to compliment their peers and celebrate everyone’s successes. The social and emotional pieces of our program support children’s gentle, tenderhearted spirits and develop their sense of self.
By the end of pre-kindergarten, most students are working well above their standards in all developmental domains. It is exciting for parents to see their children reading, writing, counting, making friends, and giving to others. As we foster creativity and curiosity, don’t be surprised if your child asks even more questions every day! Revel in it - we do!