Both St. Mark ’s U.M.C. Head Start Centers utilize the “Creative Curriculum” and emphasize individualization, taking into account each child’s needs, learning style and interests. "Children learn by doing hands on experiences”. Children who like school will like learning, so we want our children, to enjoy the time they spend in school. Any type of corporal punishment is strictly forbidden.
At least ten percent of the children enrolled have diagnosed “special needs”. Many of these “special needs” are addressed by Special Education Itinerant Teacher / S.E.I.T., who work with children assigned to them during school hours.
As a child builds with blocks, he/she is developing control of the small muscles in fingers and hands as blocks are added to a structure. Perceptions of size, weight, and shape are developing and language skills are growing as children discuss what they are building. Co-operation and planning among children develops as they work together toward a common goal.
Housekeeping / Dramatic Play
The Housekeeping area allows boys and girls the opportunity to use their imaginations and "try on" various roles from the adult word. Through play, children try to make sense of the events happening around them and deal with the emotions surrounding them. Social skills grow as children choose definite roles in the "play" of the day whether it is Playing House, School, Doctor, or Restaurant.
Art materials that are freely accessible to children allow them to make choices, interact with a variety of materials, and learn to think and be creative. The process of working with the materials is more important then what is actually made. Choices are made as children select paper, particular colors of paint, and experience with the way they are applied. Children develop a vocabulary of describing words such as soft, hard, squishy, smooth, rough, stripped, checkered, etc.
Puzzles, Games and Table-Top Toys
Children enjoy playing with small toys at tables or on the floor. Controlled movements of the fingers and hands enable children to master the muscles necessary for writing. As children work with colors and patterns, they develop visual discrimination and memory. When children pretend about things that they have built, they are taking their first steps in the use of symbols, which are important, as they begin to read and write.
Science and Math Interest Centers
Children can interact with materials on their own or in small groups as they explore items at these interest centers. Counting shells, sorting leaves by size or shape, and classifying rocks by type are examples of activities young children can do here. Adults provide names of items and ask questions such as: "How are these alike? "Different?" "Is this bigger?" "Smaller?" "Children's interest grows as they think about everyday items in new ways.
As children explore books on their own or with an interested adult, they begin to notice that print goes from left to right and top to bottom, that pictures often tell a story, and that the story stays the same as it is read over and over. Listening, paying attention, sequencing, and thinking skills are all being used as children enjoy a story. Children become acquainted with new vocabulary words and the style of formal written English as they listen to stories.
Music & Movement
Music can help make children aware of sounds that are quiet and loud, high and low, fast and slow etc. Repetition of songs and melodies can expand children's ability to memorize. Music can also relax children at nap time and sooth an anxious child. Music can also affirm the children's cultures and languages. Movement is a form of self-expression and non-verbal communication. As well as being a creative outlet, children can move with music, with or without a "prop" such as a scarf, etc. Movement can be individual or with a partner or group. Movement for pre-schoolers should be spontaneous and joyful.