Early Childhood Curriculum
In conjunction with our Discovery Learning approach to early childhood instruction and current research in early childhood education, specific learning expectations and benchmarks have been developed in each area of the curriculum. Our EC faculty have worked with Gaye Gronlund, a nationally recognized authority in curriculum planning and authentic assessment for early learning.
The Early Childhood program creates a language-rich environment by encouraging oral expression and the development of phonemic awareness through interactive stories, songs and games; by embedding literacy experiences in play-based centers and project based activities. Print concepts are enhanced through shared reading experiences, journal writing, the introduction of a variety of text types and by maintaining a classroom environment where print is seen in many contexts.
Our students participate in two to three Storyline projects, a child-centered literacy-based learning method. By using a series of key questions that encourage research, writing, and creative problem-solving skills, as well as critical social skills to guide each unit, students are involved and invested in their learning.
The Early Childhood program establishes a foundation for mathematical thinking by encouraging hands-on, multi-sensory exploration in a prepared environment. Shapes, patterns, relationships, measurements and numeracy are introduced and enhanced by using materials specifically designed to highlight mathematical concepts. Opportunities for problem-solving in a collaborative, social context become the basis for data analysis, making predictions and drawing conclusions.
Science and Technology
The mission of the Early Childhood science program is to cultivate an appreciation of the natural world by using a hands-on, experiential approach to learning, encouraging experimentation and instilling a sense of curiosity and wonder. Our curriculum provides opportunities for developing knowledge and understanding scientific principles, with activities based on process skills that emphasize observing, making comparisons, classifying, measuring, predicting and communicating. Our unique Taking Root program is held in the great outdoors where our students take advantage of the meadoews ponds and woods of Squire Valleevue campus.
Hand-held teaching devices — iPads — allow our students to have technology at their fingertips. In Pre-Kindergarten our classrooms are equipped with SmartBoards — interactive white boards — as well as age-appropriate software.
Weekly trips to the Early Childhood & Primary School library for story time and to check out a special book help to cultivate literacy skills and exposure to a wide variety of books and materials. HB families are also encouraged to visit the library to borrow books and foster a love of reading at a young age.
Spanish is informally introduced at the Preschool level and formally with a Spanish teacher at the Pre-Kindergarten level with songs, games, and stories that engage children using a lively, interactive format. Girls in our Kindergarten continue with Spanish through the Fourth Grade.
Music and Movement
Our Preschool students experience music and creative movement as a combined course of study. Basic music concepts covered include steady beat, exploring sound sources, rhythmic speech, rhythmic movement and the singing voice. Structured Eurhythmics activities are a backbone of the Early Childhood music and movement curriculum. Music, movement and rhythm are used to develop sensory motor skills and to capitalize on every child's natural sense of creative expression. Our Pre-Kindergarten students experience music and creative movement as separate classes. They visit with Mr. Sams for music and Ms. Burnett for creative movement. The core content remains the same as our Preschool students, but their awareness and capacity for working with these concepts expand as they mature.
Held in our gymnasium, our Early Childhood physical education program provides a nurturing environment filled with developmentally appropriate movement opportunities. Through movement, a young child can develop her/his relationship to space and to peers, as well as the ability to follow directions and to select enjoyable activities that are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. The importance of locomotor and manipulative skills is addressed throughout the year. Activities involve refining body awareness, spatial awareness, balance and sensory integration and are designed to encompass a broad developmental spectrum that reflects the varying rates of physical growth and maturity in the early years.
A unique blend of additional options include performing arts, multicultural activities, swimming and science classes for our Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten students throughout the day. We have found that our youngest learners also benefit from a relaxed time for rest as well as free play. Lunch and snack are also a wonderful social time for children to enjoy one another’s company.
Informal assessment takes place daily through teacher observations during free play, in the context of prepared learning activities. It also takes place outside the classroom as the children interact in other environments. In addition, formal assessments target specific skills and areas for development.
Formal assessments have proven to be effective tools for outlining individual learning profiles. Speech, language, hearing and vision screenings are given annually to all Pre-Kindergarten students, and to any recommended students in Preschool. The Kindergarten Diagnostic Instrument, covering a continuum of skills, is administered during the second half of the school year to Pre-Kindergarten girls. The resulting learning profile, normed to the Hathaway Brown community, as well as nationally normed, has been helpful in confirming classroom teacher observations and in helping families to understand the need for recommended interventions.
A series of follow-up activities targeting specific areas of kindergarten readiness are also available to parents, enabling them to become positively involved in the learning process.