About Early Childhood Education
The Early Childhood Program at SCIS immerses children in an atmosphere of wonder and growth. It focuses on the development of the whole-child by providing opportunities for children to learn and practice newly acquired skills. Our program challenges students just beyond their level of present mastery and provides opportunities for them to take risks and try new things in a nurturing community where they feel safe, happy and valued.
The academic component of the early childhood program is based upon 38 objectives for development and learning that are distributed into four overarching areas: social-emotional development, physical development, cognitive development and language development. The following information provides a greater level of insight into each domain.
Four Areas of Development for Early Childhood
Social/emotional development during the early years is about socialization - the process by which children learn the values and behaviors accepted by society. It is also about becoming a competent and confident person. Developing social-emotional competence is essential to a child’s well-being, and success in school and life.
There are three goals for social/emotional development:
- Achieving a sense of self: knowing oneself and relating to other people- both children and adults.
- Taking responsibility for self and others: following rules and routines, respecting others, and taking initiative.
- Behaving in a prosocial way: showing empathy and getting along in the world, for example, by sharing and taking turns.
Physical development includes children’s gross (large muscle) and fine (small muscle) motor skills. Physical development is sometimes taken for granted in the early childhood classroom because it is often assumed that it happens automatically. This is not true, physical development is just as important to learning as every other area of development. With more advanced physical development, children master increasingly complex tasks and gain personal responsibility for their own physical needs such as dressing themselves. The more children can do the more they are willing to try new and challenging tasks. Research shows that physical education in the early grades supports children’s academic achievement, general healthy self-esteem, stress management and social development.
There are two goals for physical development:
- Achieving gross motor control: moving the large muscles in the body, especially the arms and legs, consciously and deliberately. Gross motor control includes balance and stability; movements such as running, jumping, hopping, galloping, and skipping; and physical manipulations such as throwing, kicking, and catching.
- Achieving fine motor control: using and coordinating the small muscles in the hands and wrists with dexterity. As these fine muscles develop, children are able to perform self-help skills and manipulate small objects such as scissors and writing tools. The achievement of fine motor skills generally lags behind gross motor development.
Cognitive development refers to the mind and how it works. It involves how children think, how they see their world, and how they use what they learn.
There are three goals for cognitive development.
- Learning and problem solving: being purposeful about acquiring and using information, resources, and materials. As children observe events around them, ask questions, make predictions, and test possible solutions, learning reaches beyond just acquiring facts. Persistence and knowing how to apply knowledge expands their learning even further.
- Thinking logically: gathering and making sense of the information by comparing, contrasting, sorting, classifying, counting, measuring and recognizing patterns. As children use logical thinking, they organize their world conceptually and gain a better understanding of how it works.
- Representing and thinking symbolically: using objects in a unique way, for instance, a cup to represent a telephone, or a broom to represent a horse; pretending, for instance, to be mommy or a firefighter; portraying the world through charts or pictures, for instance, making a graph to show changes in the weather over time or a drawing to show what happened to a character in a story. Representations and symbols free children from the world of literal meanings and allow them to use materials and their imagination to explore abstract ideas.
Language development includes understanding and communicating through words, spoken and written. Children are born with the capacity to communicate with others – both verbally and non-verbally. By the time they reach schooling age, their ability to communicate thoughts and feelings through spoken language takes on new importance. Language becomes the principal tool for establishing and maintaining relationships with adults and other children.
There are two goals for language development:
- Listening and speaking: using spoken language to communicate with others, enlarging one’s vocabulary, expressing oneself, understanding the oral speech of others, participating in a conversation, and using language to solve problems. As children learn to listen and speak, they gain control of themselves and their world, relate effectively to others, and gather and store more and more information.
- Reading and writing: making sense of written language, understanding the purpose of print and how it works, gaining knowledge of the alphabet, writing letters and words. When children begin to read they gain access to new worlds of information and faraway places, including the world of imagination. Writing things down expands memory, communication and understanding.
The Learning Environment
The early childhood learning environment is a very important aspect of our program, as it is structured and designed in a unique way that meets students’ developmental needs. The learning environment is designed to make all students feel safe and comfortable while fostering a sense of responsibility, confidence and independence. Our classrooms and other learning spaces are organized to support interest areas that offer multiple opportunities for children to explore, discover and grow. These include:
- Dramatic play
- Music and movement
- Sand and water
Subjects taught in Early Childhood Education:
- English Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Performing Arts (Music)
- Information Communication Technology (ICT)
- Physical Education