PreK-Kindergarten: The Fire Burns Within
At AZ Academy we believe that early childhood (nursery school – kindergarten) is the most critical point for development of ideas and attitudes about learning. Children are naturally curious, and all future learning will emerge from an engaging educational experience that fuels this interest. Consequently, instead of using a packaged curriculum, we offer a flexible blend of child-centered and teacher-directed instruction that fosters wonderment. AZ Academy has designed a comprehensive, age-appropriate early childhood program that emphasizes the skills our children will need in the upcoming years. Our curriculum is customized to meet each child’s individual needs in a loving and nurturing learning environment. Our specific goals in the classroom include:
Building Background Knowledge and Critical Thinking Skills
We feel that the more children know about their world, the easier it is for them to read and learn when they get to school. Our teachers have an important role to play in helping children learn new information, ideas, and vocabulary and how to use this knowledge to become full participants in their own learning. Our teachers help children to connect new information and ideas to what they already know and understand.
Reading Aloud and Learning About Books
The Commission on Reading cited reading aloud to children “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.” As a result, our teachers read to the children throughout the day to create real and meaningful experiences through text.
Teaching About Print, Letters, and the Sounds of Spoken Language
By age two or three, children begin to develop an awareness of printed letters and words. They see adults around them reading, writing, and using printed words for many purposes. As children’s natural curiosity rises, our teachers capitalize on this window of opportunity to teach children about the appropriate way to hold a writing tool and about letter formations and the sounds they correspond to in language. Most importantly, this is done through tactile and artistic experiences that create a solid foundation for elementary learning.
Developing Listening and Speaking Skills
Children learn the mechanics of reading and writing throughout elementary school, but the listening and speaking skills they learn in early childhood play a critical role in their success with these tasks. Our teachers sharpen listening and speaking skills so that children comprehend spoken language and create appropriate and accurate responses.
Learning about Number Concepts
According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, learning about number concepts in the first years of school involves developing number readiness skills and developing a solid understanding of number meanings. Our teachers emphasize these skills by having the children use problem solving and reasoning in the classifying, comparing, ordering, and patterning of objects. Children also explore geometric shapes, units of measurement, calendar and clock time, and money concepts to build a solid foundation for learning in all subject areas.
Providing Time for Experience and Discovery
Indoor and outdoor unstructured playtime is as important as teacher-directed learning in the classroom. AZ students discover and experience principles about nature and the world during this key time, and fine-tune their social relationships. Our teachers provide ample time for children to develop these child-initiated learning experiences.
Communicating with Parents and Caregivers Regularly
Good communication with parents and caregivers can build support for and strengthen the important work that our teachers are doing in the classroom. Families receive portfolios every six weeks to check their child’s progress, in addition to the daily contact that our small group environment fosters.