Our Early Childhood Division (ECD) is dedicated to providing a safe and inviting environment where children’s natural interest and joy in learning is nurtured. The main work is in literacy and numeracy taught through high-interest topics. Language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) are taught and practiced in hands-on units related to social studies and science themes.
Reading instruction is designed to teach reading and listening comprehension and to improve each child’s use of phonics and other strategies for decoding. The students have access to a wide variety of literature, including classroom libraries and leveled reading books. Teachers are able to work with individuals and small groups to ensure that children of all ability levels are able to make progress. Students who can read more advanced books are given the opportunity to do so. We assess students regularly to provide early intervention and English language support to students who need it.
The emphasis is on writing as communication, to make and share meaning with others. Writing is emphasized throughout, with students using invented spelling to write for a variety of purposes by the end of kindergarten. By the end of second grade students are using conventional spelling, and learning about organizing thoughts, paragraphs, vocabulary choices, complete sentences, expressing main ideas and supporting details and other elements of the writer’s craft. Writing is constantly related to reading and thematic studies, and students learn what makes compelling writing through their literature studies. We assess young students’ writing in various ways, including writing rubrics and teacher-designed assessments.
Students explore math concepts with hands-on tools to help them construct their own knowledge. They develop concepts from the concrete to the abstract as they advance through the early childhood grades. At the same time, they learn to perform the traditional algorithms (adding and subtracting 3-digit numbers with regrouping by second grade), memorize basic addition and subtraction facts, and practice multiplication and division concepts. They are introduced to appropriate levels of the major mathematical concept areas (numeration; estimation and mental math; geometry, measurement, fractions) and are encouraged to express their mathematical thinking in words. Math concepts are explored in relation to thematic units when possible. Math progress is assessed through teacher-designed and program based assessment tools.