Our curriculum is child-centered with just the right balance of self-discovery and teacher-directed instruction. Our instruction is relevant; we keep an eye on age-appropriate development and present curriculum necessary for the success of those children getting ready to enter kindergarten.
Our shelves are filled with wonderful literature books which cover many genres, including non-fiction, fiction, poetry, big books, first-readers, multi-cultural literature, etc. We include science magazines such as Zoo Books, National Geographic and Ranger Rick in our preschool library. And we provide cloth and “feelie” books for toddlers.
Our shelves hold bins filled with blocks, cars and trucks, Legos®, math manipulatives, scientific exploration activities, dress-up clothes, dolls, carriages, kitchen play equipment, music CDs and musical instruments, all within the child’s reach, enabling child-discovery. Our play area contains many sensory motor activities and mediums. Our play kitchen and dolls encourage all children to role play and provide care. We have a multi-media center available where children can watch educational DVDs and videos. It has a large mirrored area so that they can dance, jump, skip and tumble along with the presentation to help develop self-image awareness.
Our playground is filled with fun equipment such as hula hoops, balls, scooters, tricycles, jump ropes, hop scotch, a climbing apparatus, slides, sand toys, water tables, pouring equipment, etc., to encourage students to move their bodies, gain balance and develop coordination.
We teach important valuing skills along with academics, beginning with respect for self, others and property. Acceptance, forgiveness, awareness, compassion, empathy, good sports-personship, and the appreciation of diversity are explored as a part of daily interaction thus building a natural sense of community.
The Zoo-phonics® Multisensory Language Arts Program and Methodology
Zoo-phonics® also provides a springboard for all other academia such as math, art, music, cooking/nutrition, social studies, science, grooming, physical education and sensory/drama.
Zoo-phonics® is a kinesthetic, multimodal, multisensory approach to learning all aspects of language arts, including vocabulary development and articulation. As a particular letter shape and sound is explored, activities and subjects in all areas are included.
And...in October 2010 the Zoo-phonics® Preschool Kit (basis of our Safari Learning® Preschool Curriculum) was selected as a 2011 winner of Learning Magazine's 17th Annual Teacher’s Choice Awards!
A description of Zoo-phonics®
Zoo-phonics® uses animals drawn in the shapes of the letters for ease in memory. A related body movement is given for each letter. This concrete approach cements the sounds to the shapes of the letters. Lowercase letters and their sounds are taught first (needed 95% of the time in text), capital letters and letter names are taught later. (For reference see the Zoo-phonics® Animal Signals sample sheet.)
For example, during “bubba bear’s” /b/ week, children will read books; explore balance; figure out which item is big, bigger or the biggest; count with beans and buttons; learn how many sides a box has, draw boxes; locate Great Britain and Belgium on a map; look at the rainbows in bubbles; listen and move to Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven; dance to “boogie-woogie” music or swing music from big bands; learn about the metamorphoses of butterflies; learn how to clean a scratch and apply a Band-aide®; toss bean bags and balls, build bridges by doing backbends; learn how boats float; determine bubba bear’s basic shape; build bridges and buildings with blocks; decorate and fill berry baskets; learn how to button a blouse or shirt; make birdseed feeders out of pinecones, birdseed and peanut butter; celebrate birthdays that month, etc.
Zoo-phonics® is a Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
"Developmentally appropriate practice, often shortened to DAP, is an approach to teaching grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early education. Its framework is designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.
DAP involves teachers meeting young children where they are (by stage of development), both as individuals and as part of a group; and helping each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals."*
DAP includes five complex principles:
*Learn more about DAP at NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
English language learners and students with special needs
Learning a second language
We teach basic nouns and verbs by beginning slowly and age-appropriately. Numbers, colors and names of objects are taught first. We read literature books and sing simple songs, respectively, in Spanish. We keep a watchful eye on all children as they are first learning to master their own language so there will be no confusion between the languages.
The arts and sciences
Gender roles are addressed in a natural fashion. Both girls and boys are encouraged to participate in activities that might be construed as appropriate to one gender. For example, we encourage girls to learn through spatial, physical and mechanical avenues. And we encourage boys to be gentle when necessary and to learn through verbal avenues as well as spatial and non-verbal. Our teachers are trained to understand and appreciate the differences and similarities between our young explorers and allow boys to be more physical and loud and girls to be more verbal and less physical if that is their style and choice. And they are trained to apply this understanding to curriculum development and free play.