Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Infant and Preschool Center
Our curriculum is designed to be appropriate for the age span of the children within the group with attention being given to children's individual needs, interests, and developmental levels. The development of positive self-esteem and a positive attitude toward learning are a primary emphasis.
We view learning as an interactive process between the child and her/his environment. The curriculum is designed to provide for children's exploration and manipulation of the environment through meaningful interaction with adults, other children, and materials.
The teachers' knowledge of child development will aid them in observing and recording each child's needs, interests, and developmental progress. Materials and experiences are then planned to meet these needs and stimulate learning in all developmental areas-physical, social, emotional, and intellectual - using an integrated approach.
Learning activities and materials are concrete, real and/or representational, and relevant to the lives of young children. As children develop understanding and skills, the teachers will provide a variety of activities and materials of increasing difficulty, complexity, and challenge. Child-initiated, child-directed, and teacher supported play is an essential component of our program.
Multicultural and nonsexist experiences, materials, and equipment are provided for children of all ages.
Daily learning experiences include the following:
- ART: Use of various art media such as play dough, finger paints, water colors, crayons, and easel paints assist the child in self-expression, creativity, and in the development of fine motor coordination.
- DRAMATIC PLAY: Dramatic play gives each child the opportunity to better understand family and community roles.
- MUSIC: Ample time is allowed for singing, movement, and experimentation instruments and rhythm. Listening to music serves as a way to relax the child and provide smooth transitions to other activities. Children are exposed to a variety of music throughout the day.
LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE ARTS EXPERIENCES: Books are readily available to all children. Children are frequently read to individually or in small groups. In addition, special time is set aside for puppets, stories with various media such as flannel boards, videos, and story tapes. Children are encouraged to dictate stories as well as to experience many print-related activities, as they gain an understanding of the
alphabetic system of our language and the relationship between letters, sounds, and words.
- LARGE AND SMALL MUSCLE ACTIVITIES: Physical exercise and the development of motor skills is experienced daily. A variety of equipment is used. Small muscles are Developed through various manipulative materials
- MATHEMATICS: Number concepts, measurement, geometry, patterns, and relationships are introduced through hands-on experiences and daily living routines. Children have many opportunities to count compare and classify throughout the day. Problem solving, reasoning, and communication are emphasized.
- SCIENCE: Children are curious about the world around them. By building on this natural interest we can take advantage of events in our classroom as well as outdoors. By taking field trips and providing science projects, we allow opportunities for experimenting, observing, classifying, ordering, measuring, predicting, collecting, and problem solving. Classroom pets are an important element of the science curriculum.
- SOCIALIZATION: Small group experiences help children learn how to get along with others. Emphasis is put on assisting the children in the expression of feelings, needs, and ideas. As children grow in social and communication skills, teachers encourage them to solve problems through discussion and negotiations.
Very young children learn about their environment through their senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching), through their own actions, and through their social interactions with adults and peers. The staff develops warm, positive relationships with each child, helping her/him feel safe and emotionally secure. The development of a trusting relationship with the staff is critical to the very young child's sense of self and is the foundation for the development of independence. Infants and toddlers learn through their own experiences, trial and error,repetition, imitation and identification. Our staff provides experiences that help children gain confidence in their own abilities, thus helping develop positive self-esteem. Relationships with people are emphasized.
Children this age are mastering and building on their vocabulary. Through their experiences with simple books, pictures, music, puzzles, and tactile experiences, as well as active play such as jumping, running, and dancing, they increase their language as they are learning about themselves and the world around them.
Adults provide a balance of quiet and active experiences for children throughout the program day.
This room is organized into interest areas where children may become involved in dramatic play, play with blocks and wheeled toys, using small manipulatives such as puzzles, Legos, or board games, listening to book tapes, being creative with items such as paint, markers, crayons, etc., or exploring science concepts. Opportunities for gross motor activities, either outdoors or in the gymnasium, are provided daily. Children are exposed to a print-rich environment that stimulates language and literacy skills. Cooking experiences are done almost weekly, allowing children to taste a variety of foods and exposing them to basic math concepts, such as measuring and counting. Problem-solving skills are developed daily through child-initiated, teacher-supported activities. Occasional field trips are taken away from the building to help the children develop a better understanding of the world and community around them. The goal of the field trips is to expose them to new experiences, cultures, and information beyond the classroom.
Center staff engages in assessment of the children throughout the year. The preschool room uses the Work Sampling Illinois Assessment Guidelines. The infant –toddler room uses the Infant and Toddler Child Observation Record. Teachers will provide you with information relating to this assessment at the first parent teacher conference and throughout the year.