Lower School: Preschool & Pre-Kindergarten
The Early Childhood program at St. Matthew’s creatively engages students in their earliest school experiences. The program provides a safe setting with a rich and varied play-based curriculum that meets the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual needs of each child.
Challenging, age appropriate activities and learning opportunities are planned in a manner that promote positive self-esteem and serve as an excellent introduction to school. The lessons throughout the day are based on a thematic, play oriented curriculum and further enriched with creative, hands-on activities.
The emphasis of the Preschool program is on the whole child, meeting the needs of individual students at all levels. The curriculum includes three areas of focus: the physical, intellectual and social development of young children. Each content area is integral to providing a positive, healthy and academic experience for our youngest learners.
Benita Griffin and Erin Hudec
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Early Childhood (preschool and pre-kindergarten) is a time when students learn the importance of developing and nurturing positive relationships with peers and their teachers. This is further enhanced through cooperative play, helping and caring for others through our service learning program and the use of the Responsive Classroom approach.
Teachers model positive communication and help students develop the tools to promote self-control and the expression of ideas and thoughts. In their play and learning, students practice problem-solving and are encouraged to take responsible risks. They begin to step out of their comfort zone, knowing they are in a safe place to express their feelings and needs.
|St. Matthew’s provides a content rich environment in which children learn and thrive in a play-based and non-competitive atmosphere. The students are provided with many learning opportunities that are based on success-oriented activities that promote self-confidence. These activities provide exposure to a variety of concepts, themes, and literature, which further support their academic learning and prepare them for more formal instruction in the years ahead.|
Students in Early Childhood (ECC) participate in a wealth of art projects, both self-directed and group oriented. The art program in the ECC values process over product. Students are able to engage in daily art projects during Learning Choice time and have access to a coloring and craft center that is available every day with markers, scissors, craft sticks, yarn, puff balls, glue, foam shapes, etc. to create their own individual works of art.
Research has shown time and time again that reading aloud to children increases the likelihood of academic success and leads to a broader vocabulary that enhances social skills. In fact, the National Academy of Education states that the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
From preschool through fourth grade, each child participates in story time through the library once a week. Students are exposed to a wide variety of books and stories that will stretch their minds and imaginations. As students progress through the program, they are introduced to a variety of topics, including: story creation, dictionaries and thesauruses, writing poetry, map skills, creating fables, and more.
There are numbers all around us! The preschool students learn about their numbers, patterns, sequencing and other number concepts throughout their days through the use of a wide variety of manipulative toys, puzzles, pattern materials, graphing mats, blocks, rhymes and games. Math in preschool and pre-kindergarten includes:
• Shapes and Geometry
• Spatial Relationships
|MUSIC AND DRAMATIC PLAY|
Walk into the classroom on any given day and you are sure to hear some music! Music is a key component to having fun and learning at the same time! The children will sing songs together as a group, building memory skills through repetition of songs, rhymes and finger plays. These activities foster language development and build vocabulary, but most of all, they are a fun way to learn! The children love to sing and dance together while they explore new themes and learn about new ideas!
Dramatic play is a key developmental activity for this age group. Come and join the students for a cup of tea in the doll house area or dawn a cape and take off with the super heroes as they tackle new challenges. The students enjoy role playing and develop their skills in language development, self-confidence, expression of feelings and problem solving.
|READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS|
The goal of the reading program at St. Matthew’s is to instill a life-long joy of reading in each and every child. You will find a print rich environment in the classroom that promotes this passion for reading and further enhances reading and language acquisition. The students are exposed to phonics on a daily basis in a fun and engaging practice. Critical thinking skills are used on a daily basis during read-a-loud time as they make predictions about what might happen next in the story.
The writing center is a key aspect to the program. It is a place where students can choose to go during free choice time. They can engage in drawing, making cards and writing letters. They have their choice of a large variety of writing instruments as they do their creative drawings and handwork, further developing their fine motor skills.
Another popular component of the language arts program is the Listening Center. During choice time, children can listen to songs and stories, further developing their expressive and receptive language skills.
Students in preschool through fourth grade learn Bible stories through the Montessori-based Godly Play curriculum, or by reading with developmentally appropriate children’s Bibles.
The students at St. Matthew’s are active scientists, always exploring, predicting and observing. Science projects are hands-on and integrated into the curriculum through classroom experiments. The children are taught to question, explore and create in an environment that is safe and exciting. Topics that are covered throughout the year include plants and seeds, the farm, creatures in our natural environment, animals, weather, nutrition, magnets, and natural habitats.
Community is highly valued at St Matthew’s. Students focus on their connections with their classmates, the School and the community at large. The students learn about their community heroes, including fire and police officers as they explore topics of safety and emergency preparedness. We also explore our own roots as we learn where our families came from with the use of maps, interviews with parents and grandparents and stories of travels, cultures and religious traditions within our families. Other topics that are covered include careers, transportation, health and nutrition, manners and feelings.
Lower School Spanish has a central philosophy, around which the curriculum is designed, to offer our young students two things. The first being a positive foreign language experience for each student, and the second being foreign language acquisition. We believe strongly that a positive language experience fosters openness to the sounds, the songs, the stories, the culture, and the people of that language. The curriculum incorporates stories, songs, games, role-play and art projects which help build a foundation of useful language that can be applied to different contexts through the use of repetitive language. As a result, the Lower School program provides students with a context for real language use—not just memorization of vocabulary.
Spanish for Native/Heritage Speakers
St. Matthew’s Native/heritage Spanish program is designed to develop and challenge students‘ ability in speaking, reading, writing, listening, and culture development in Spanish. The curriculum allows students to enhance the Spanish they have learned previously and develop it further by acquiring Spanish literacy skills, and develop or augment their Spanish academic language skills. Students develop strategic Spanish academic vocabulary, learn to explore short stories, read poetry, and acquire new information in different academic content areas.
For native speakers to maintain the language, we provide an evaluation of each of their individual needs so the curriculum is centered on instructional goals focusing on grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary development, speaking and culture. Many students are partially bilingual and range in their language skills. Native/heritage students will develop strategic Spanish reading skills, while investigating short stories and poetry. Students will produce writing in various formats and genres including well-developed sentences, paragraphs, literary response items, and short stories, while continuing to develop skills in the correct use of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
Physical Development is an integral part of the Preschool and Prekindergarten program. Large and small muscle coordination and control are developed through activities that build:
• Hand-Eye Coordination
Group interaction is an important component of the physical development of our students. The students learn important skills of cooperation and teamwork throughout the day as they support their peers in tackling new challenges.
The students have access to climbing equipment, both inside the classroom and on the playground. In addition, the children have access to wheel toys, play structures, balls, a sand area and our treasured play house.
Health and fitness are promoted throughout the program in both Physical Education classes and discussions about nutrition and lessons focused on bodily safety and spatial awareness.
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri: 8:05 A.M. – 11:15 A.M.
Wed (late start): 9:05 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri: 8:05 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Wed (late start): 9:05 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.EXTENDED CARE