The curriculum at Multnomah Playschool is centered on several areas of your child’s development:
• Emotional Development
• Social Development
• Language Development
• Cognitive Development
• Physical Development
• Creative and Personal Style
• Environmental Awareness
• Diversity Awareness/ Anti-Bias
In each area, activities are introduced which help students learn in a variety of ways. Sometimes children learn through exposure, as when we play classical music during free choice time, or display a fine art print. They may learn by exploring materials and making discoveries about them. They learn from teacher-directed activities where they listen to instructions, follow them, practice, and gain competence, such as in the group use of the parachute or emergency drills. Children also learn as they find solutions to problems both individually and as a group, such as when two children work out a compromise for sharing materials, or a class votes on what to name a classroom pet. Some activities in our curriculum are almost as basic in the classroom as the furniture – sand play, easel painting and blocks – but children at different developmental levels may use the same materials quite differently. Other activities enter the curriculum based on the children’s spontaneous interests. Still other activities are introduced as parts of thematic units, such as that perennial favorite, dinosaurs. We might give children the chance to develop conceptual understandings of dinosaurs through stories about them, art projects, or measurement comparisons. The teacher carefully observes each child on a regular basis. Specific activities in the curriculum are based on these observations, thereby incorporating the children’s unique interests and developmental needs. Some activities are geared to help particular children’s development in targeted areas, while others are geared to enrich the whole group.
Curriculum Development Areas:
Our goals include supporting a child’s sense of self-esteem, confidence in approaching new activities and situations, self-knowledge about their range of emotions and appropriate ways to express them, understanding of relationships and respect for others’ feelings and rights. Our curriculum seeks to cultivate the beautiful sound of children’s laughter, so indicative of emotional well-being. One important way a child’s self-esteem is promoted at Multnomah Playschool is through his or her making choices: what centers to play in, which equipment to use and projects that ask children, “What can you make with this?” Other activities that promote healthy emotional development include the use of children’s artwork and photographs and their dictation about them, and the presentation of stories in which characters deal with common preschooler concerns such as nightmares or sibling rivalry.
Our program offers children different kinds of social opportunities. There is a place to be alone and places where children may play side by side, as well as many opportunities for them to be involved freely in group play. There are nurturing adults available for one-on one time, and adults who guide both large and small group activities in a positive way. Specific goals for children’s social development include enhancing self-esteem through being part of a group, learning to share and take turns, and to negotiate and solve problems equitably. We work with children to identify stereotypes, become aware of differences between people and families and to value that diversity, and to use appropriate strategies when they encounter situations in which their own or others’ basic rights have been abused. Activities that promote attaining these goals include using dramatic play equipment, such as multi-ethnic and differently-abled dolls, participating in group art projects such as quilts and murals, singing songs with the class, going on field trips to a parent’s work place, using cooking recipes that are typical of a classmate’s cultural tradition and different from one’s own, observing classroom posters depicting different kinds of families and engaging in group problem-solving during stories in which a character encounters discrimination.
We facilitate growth in this area by giving children many opportunities to use language, to express themselves freely and to delight in the spoken word. Our goals include stimulating children’s continually-expanding vocabulary and comprehension. We help children to develop listening skills and to understand and use non-verbal forms of communication. Our children have many opportunities to converse with adults and with each other. We have story times, dictation, finger plays and songs, as well as opportunities to communicate through art or creative movement. Our snack time is a special place for conversation and story telling.
Children develop thinking skills by manipulating various materials, by sorting, by classifying, and by representing their ideas and findings symbolically. We encourage children to observe, question, make predictions, problem-solve, make comparisons and connect causes with effects. We seek to provide as many “hands-on” experiences as possible from which children may construct conceptual understanding. Activities that enhance cognitive development include playing with water, sand, sensory tables, blocks, seriation and sequensing toys and matching games, doing graph projects, hatching chicks, counting objects, following a recipe and going on field trips.
Our curriculum helps children develop gross motor and fine muscle coordination and stimulates use of their senses. Our daily schedule – with large blocks of free-choice time, combined with a variety of equipment for climbing, riding, digging, balancing, jumping and running – invites the strenuous exercise that develops gross motor coordination. Similarly, fine motor skills are stimulated through manipulatives, small construction toys, carpentry tools and art equipment. In addition, sensory-motor experiences, such as finger-painting, playdough, water and sand play, legos and table toys such as sound cylinders or the “feelie box” are offered daily.
Creative and Personal Style
We encourage the development of each child’s unique interests and modes of expression. Children have free access to creative materials they can use any way they choose. We try not to interfere when a child is involved in a creative process of repetition and refining: he/she may need to produce several string paintings before feeling satisfaction, or may bring home many carpentry projects involving a particular arrangement of wood, nails and rubber bands. Activities that stimulate aesthetics include parents and special guests demonstrating musical talents, creative movement and dancing and displaying fine art prints and books. MPS has an artist-in-residence for one week each spring who models the skills in which he or she is proficient and offers the children opportunities to engage with interesting materials.
At Multnomah Playschool we strive to instill in children an awareness of all life and a sense of responsibility for the Earth. Children are encouraged to respect plants and animals and to understand the interdependence of all species in the web of life. We try to model and teach thoughtful use of the Earth’s resources. Conservation and recycling are practiced in the classroom and school purchases are made with consideration of their effects on the environment.
Multnomah Playschool is committed to promoting and celebrating the diversity that occurs in our school, community and world. We choose to take an active role in counteracting biases. We value diversity and aim to provide opportunities for understanding how and why we differ from one another, and how and why we are alike. We provide an environment welcoming all people, regardless of gender, race, age, culture, able-bodiedness, socio-economic status and family configuration (including gay and lesbian families). As part of the curriculum we will:
• Provide toys, games, books, stories, and visual materials that depict people of all races, cultures, ages, able-bodiedness, gender, religion and lifestyles in a positive and non-stereotypical manner.
• Present activities, including songs, music and cook projects, that explore the similarities and differences among us all.
• Encourage our families to share their own traditions, cultures and lifestyles with our school.
• Present anti-bias information in our newsletter and at our General Meetings.
• Provide a forum in which parents can discuss issues around bias in a safe and supportive manner.
• Appoint a Board member to serve as Diversity/Equity Coordinator. This person will function as a liaison between the Teacher, parents and Board. This job will include assisting the Teacher obtain anti-bias materials and presenting anti-bias information to parents via the newsletter and General Meetings.
As part of our anti-bias curriculum at Multnomah Playschool, we attempt to support children in the healthy exploration and celebration of the many ways people are alike and the many ways we are different. Our goal is to help children feel comfortable with differences. As part of our approach, we do not assume that all families celebrate the same holidays, or in the same manner. The Teachers will not bring “holiday” themed projects or decorations into the classroom. This is in part to show respect for the differences that we have, but also to keep the classroom from becoming an overstimulating place during what are sometimes socially frantic times.
On the flip side of this, however, we do encourage families to share meaningful family traditions and celebrations with their child’s class. Food, stories, crafts, songs, etc. are all appreciated by the children. We will spend time in class discussions at circle time comparing our traditions and celebrations.[pb_builder]