Early childhood education is a distinct period of learning. Preschoolers acquire a great deal of their knowledge and abilities as they participate in hands-on activities that engage all their senses. Saint Raphael Preschool provides experiences that appeal to the interests and abilities of young children, allowing them to feel a sense of achievement in a secure learning atmosphere and setting the foundation for future learning.
Developmental learning objectives are the specific competencies, understandings and dispositions that teachers assist children in acquiring. Both teacher-guided and child-guided classroom activities can support mastery of these learning goals.
Units of study or themes help the child explore and acquire specific concepts while reinforcing developmental skills. Topics of special interest to the young child determine classroom themes.
Learning centers create the environment for experiential learning. They normally include activities generated from the unit or theme.
Areas of development upon which the curriculum focuses include:
- Physical (Fine Motor and Large Muscle development, Self-Help, Health and Safety)
- Cognitive (includes: language and literacy; mathematical and scientific concepts and abilities; thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills)
- Creative Expression (Art and Music)
Classroom environments stimulate experiential learning and encourage exploration and discovery. They include art resources, block building, dramatic play, writing, library, manipulatives, puzzles, sensory tables, math and science materials.
Special classes in Creative Movement, Music and Spanish are offered as well as enrichments in the Cultural Arts.
Faith education is integrated throughout the early childhood curriculum. A variety of religious education materials are utilized, including the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (for 4 and 5-year-olds). The goals of faith education for the child are to:
- Learn about Jesus’ life and teachings
- Grow in relationship with God
- Discover and appreciate God’s creation
- Worship God in prayer and song
- Begin to experience the Catholic tradition
- Exhibit Christian respect for self and others
All classes are organized to incorporate a variety of activities. The following schedule reflects a typical day at the preschool.
9:009:20 Free-Play: Children select from a variety of self-directed activities.
9:209:30 Circle Time: The children gather for prayer and welcome. The teacher introduces the theme and centers for the day.
9:3010:30 Centers: Children work in small groups as they engage in teacher-guided and self-directed activities.
11:1011:35 Creative Movement: The class works with the Movement teacher on gross motor skills and fitness
11:4011:55 Storytime/Closing Circle: Time used to develop language and listening skills.
12:00 noon Dismissal
Children sing with the music teacher in a weekly Music Assembly. Four and five-year-olds attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd each week.