Academics
Early Childhood Center

Curriculum

Early Childhood Center Curriculum

The Early Childhood Center’s curriculum is child-centered and focuses on age-appropriate learning activities that help develop important language, literacy and reasoning skills to prepare the child for more formal education in the primary grades. Children learn these skills in the context of activities, projects, lessons and play. In addition to a focus on pre-reading, pre-math, language and fine motor skills, great attention is given to creative expression, personal responsibility, self-health/safety and development of personal identity.

Themes are introduced using an integrated, creative approach to broaden children’s exposure to an understanding of the world. Children explore topics through language arts, dramatic play, social studies, math, science, music and art.  

To support all stages of a child’s development, a number of curriculum models are incorporated. Play is the work of the young child and is understood to be the primary means of learning. Our teachers prepare the environment and offer materials that encourage learning and exploration.The curriculum is integrated and experiential; it is based upon the children’s needs and interests. Children are encouraged to think, reason, question, develop ideas, experiment and problem solve, as well as make choices and display independence.

The classrooms are arranged by learning areas or centers: blocks, dramatic play, manipulatives, language, math, science, art, sensory table, library, music center and writing. As necessary to meet learning goals, teachers use teacher-directed instruction with the whole group, a small group or an individual child. The daily schedule and routines include a balance of indoor and outdoor activity time.

Curriculum

List of 10 items.

  • Language Arts

    Reading is an essential component of all learning. The program is designed to foster a love of books, an understanding of how to properly care for and use books, the desire to read and to be read to, and an appreciation of literature.

    The reading readiness curriculum uses many hands-on materials to support sound-symbol correspondence and beginning writing. The ECC classrooms are print-rich environments. Many of the activities provide experiences which help develop fine motor skills.

    Circle time incorporates several activities, such as story time, science, the introduction of new concepts/themes, and provides opportunities to increase vocabulary and develop public speaking and listening skills.
  • Mathematics

    The math readiness curriculum uses many hands-on, concrete experiences to teach classification, pattern recognition, numeral recognition, number concept development, shape identification and estimation. Students develop skills to sort and classify by color, shape, size and number. They gain and extend the ability to sequence, count and develop one-to-one correspondence. The concept of number as well as numeral recognition and writing numerals is emphasized.
  • Science

    The ECC science program, “Discover the Wonder,” is experiential, based on natural phenomenon that can be observed by the child. An important part of the science experience is asking questions, speculating and experimenting with materials to discover possible answers. The units of study for Tiny Torreys include:
    • The Five Senses
    • Growing Plants
    • Earth, Moon and the Sun
    • Animals and Insects
    • Health and Hygiene
    Jr. Kindergarten’s units of study include:
    • Wonderful Water  
    • Five Senses
    • Solar System
    • Growing Plants
    • Geology
    • Marine Biology
    • Animals, Insects and Spiders
  • Art

    Children have daily opportunities to experiment with and enjoy a variety of art media, such as markers, crayons, paints, clay, play dough and paper. The program emphasizes the process and creative expression more than the end product.
  • Music

    Music is a vital part of every Tiny Torrey and Jr. Kindergarten child’s school day. The goal of the music classes in the ECC is to develop a sustained singing tone, demonstrate steady beat using movement and instruments, and develop listening skills for a variety of musical styles. Children sing songs and respond rhythmically to music through creative movement and instrumental expression. They explore and play simple instruments and develop attentive listening habits. Tiny Torrey students spend 20 minutes per week and Jr. Kindergarten students spend 30 minutes per week in the music room for a formal lesson with the music teacher. The music specialist provides a formal curriculum that includes basic rhythm, pitch and beats for various notes, and an introduction to a variety of instruments and types of music.
  • Dramatic Play

    The goal of dramatic play is to support children as they integrate meaning derived from their experiences with knowledge and skills from all developmental domains while creating roles or scenarios. In their play, children mimic behaviors they have seen or experienced. They assign symbolic meaning to real or imaginary objects using language or gestures. The dramatic play area is changed throughout the school year to reflect the unit of study, theme or emergent interest. Children are given the opportunity to experiment with a variety of objects, roles (leader, follower and mediator) and characterizations (animal, mother, astronaut, etc.) The ECC recognizes the great value of dramatic play for children’s language, cognitive and social development. Teachers actively foster and extend play through a variety of strategies and by providing a range of play props, both realistic replicas and open-ended materials.
  • Social/Emotional

    Healthy social and emotional development supports and enhances all other areas of learning and development. Many new social and emotional skills are required of Tiny Torreys and Jr. Kindergarten children as they move into the world beyond their home and families. They are learning more about who they are as individuals and how to get along with others.

    Students develop new strategies for meeting basic daily needs, learn to share the attention of an adult and acquire the ability to wait and take turns. The program supports the development of first friendships and the necessary skills to play and work cooperatively in a group of peers. Children are supported in controlling their impulses, expressing their emotions in socially acceptable ways and forming satisfying social relationships with others.
  • Character Education

    A major emphasis of the ECC is on socialization and learning the skills to become a good citizen, which include being a responsible, respectful and caring individual. Opportunities occur naturally with young children to practice conflict resolution, feelings identification and communication skills with the guidance of the teacher. Tiny Torreys and Jr. Kindergarten classes have weekly lessons and discussions from the Second Step and Heartwood curricula. Second Step focuses on behaviors, while Heartwood emphasizes values.
  • Social Studies

    In the ECC, the social studies program builds on children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. Most of what is known is tied to their personal experience. Children are encouraged to gain knowledge by discussing what is closest to them and their family, including customs practiced and holiday traditions.
  • Health & Safety

    The program provides for opportunities to emphasize nutrition and health through everyday routines such as snack and lunch times. The importance of washing hands, eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy body are stressed. Children learn about earthquake and fire safety.

Specialty Classes

List of 3 items.

  • World Languages - Spanish

    Spanish is taught in Jr. Kindergarten twice per week for 30 minutes each session. The Jr. Kindergarten program is experiential, with vocabulary and conversation taught through stories, puppetry, music, art, movement and simple dialogue. The emphasis at this age is on listening and speaking.
  • Physical Education

    Activities in physical education promote a lifetime of fitness, teamwork and skill development by incorporating age-appropriate games that develop game strategies, sportsmanship and cooperation with others.

    Physical education at the Tiny Torreys level consists of learning fundamental skills, following one- and two-step directions and working together. Children have physical education five days a week for 25 minutes each day. Children work on basic locomotor skills like jumping, sliding, galloping, hopping, running and skipping. Also, they work on developing correct techniques in throwing, catching and kicking. Simple organized games are also introduced to provide the children the opportunity for game play, sportsmanship and fun.

    The primary objective of the Jr. Kindergarten physical education program is to develop a strong motor skill foundation and perceptual skills. Group interaction, following directions, and social development also are emphasized. The overall curriculum is designed to develop a positive attitude towards physical education. The children have physical education five days a week for 25 minutes in the gymnasium.
  • Library

    The Lower School library programs are intended to encourage a love of language and story and to kindle enthusiasm for books and reading. The Lower School librarian visits the Tiny Torreys classes weekly to share a story and bring a wagon full of books to leave in the classroom. Jr. Kindergarten makes weekly visits to the Lower School library where they participate in story time and select books to take back to their classrooms. Parents are encouraged to visit the library to check out books to share with their children at home.