At Safari Learning® we teach to the “whole child.” Children are naturally very curious about their world and capable of learning a great deal about its development. Children learn through their eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands, feet and skin. They are also extremely intuitive. Children learn by doing and by exploring. Trial and error is essential to growth. A positive preschool experience helps a child view learning as creative exploration and see preschool as a place where he or she feels comfortable, safe and happy!
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
Because phonological awareness skills are proven to help a child excel in learning, we present the Zoo-phonics® Multisensory Language Arts Program to each child in an age-appropriate fashion designed specifically for age and stage.
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®
The Zoo-phonics® Multisensory Language Arts Program, as directed by Zoo-phonics®, Inc. the originator of Safari Learning® Company and Safari Learning®, is a method developed to make children strong readers and spellers using a “phono” (hearing), “oral” (speaking), “visual” (seeing), “kinesthetic” (moving), and tactile (touching)—whole brain approach. Students actually learn the sounds of the alphabet as well as advanced phonemic concepts through an easily understood, concrete method of presentation.
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)
According to the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children),
“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:
- The first is to create a caring community of learners. When creating this community each member must feel valued by others. Each member is given respect and is held accountable for their learning and well being. The teachers set clear and reasonable expectations. Teachers listen to and acknowledge children’s feelings and respond in ways children understand to guide and model problem-solving. Teachers design and maintain a physical and psychological environment that is positive and feel safe for all children.
- The second principle is teaching to enhance development of learning. Teachers make it a priority to know each child well and also the most significant people in a child’s life. Teachers know what desired goals for the program are and how the programs curriculum is intended to achieve those goals. Teachers plan for learning experiences by implementing a comprehensive curriculum so that children can achieve goals in key areas.
Teachers know how to scaffold children’s learning with just enough assistance for them to master the skill and begin to work on the next skill.
Teachers draw on many teaching strategies to foster learning for the group and each child individually. Educators include all children regardless of special needs into all classroom activities with their peers.
- The third principal is to plan with state standards and other mandates in place using the curriculum to achieve important goals. Teachers use their extensive child development knowledge to identify and plan goals for the classroom that align with state standards and other mandates. Teachers utilize curriculum framework to ensure proper attention is given to learning goals. While planning teachers integrate experiences across several domains such as physical social emotional cognitive which include language literacy mathematics social studies science art music physical education and health.
- The fourth complex principle assessing children’s development and learning includes assessing the children’s progress and achievements in ongoing strategic purposeful way. Assessment must focus on children’s progress towards goals that are developmentally and educationally significant. There must be a system in place to collect analyze and use assessment data.
- The fifth principle is establishing reciprocal relationships with families.
In relationships between teachers and families there must be a mutual respect. Corporation and shared responsibility including negotiation of conflict toward achievement of shared goals. Teachers work in partnership with families establishing and maintaining two-way communication with families. Teachers and families work as a team to share information about children’s goals progress and daily life. Family members are encouraged with multiple opportunities for family participation within the classroom setting.
*Learn more about DAP at NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
English language learners and students with special needs
Because the Zoo-phonics® Multisensory Language Arts Program is kinesthetic and multi-modal, all children are able to learn it easily and participate. It meets the language needs of English Language Learners and those with special educational needs, as well as the gifted and talented (and everyone in between).
Learning a second language
We offer an introduction to bi-lingual lingual and second language learning. Spanish is taught through the Zoo-phonics® sister program, Zoo-phonics® en español.
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
We believe that children should be well-rounded in all aspects of learning. We explore classical and contemporary art and music as a daily part of the curriculum. Students are provided play and real instruments with which to explore rhythm and music. Instruments from various parts of the world are enjoyed as well. We encourage students to draw, paint, mold, etc., using various mediums. On occasion, volunteers from the community share their talents to help extend an awareness of the arts and sciences.
It is important that a child from birth learns to appreciate and accept the wonderful uniqueness of other people. The differences may be evident in people from another culture, another age group or people with challenges. We explore these issues in an age-appropriate manner. You, as a parent, and volunteers from the community may be invited to share their particular cultures and customs with the children when appropriate. Pictures of people from many ethnic groups, dolls, items, and costumes from other countries are always available as a natural part of our classroom.
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.