The Trust Center provides a balanced curriculum to all preschool students. The curriculum seeks to nurture development in all areas: cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. Each classroom has a variety of learning centers: art, math/manipulatives, a classroom library, a writing center (when age appropriate), a science center, dramatic play, and block center. The teachers plan the presentation of different materials throughout the week as they introduce new concepts and skills based on the topic of study, the weekly skills focus, and the children’s emerging needs and interests.
While classroom schedules vary based on each age group’s particular needs, all TCEE students spend much of their day participating in Free Play and Work Time. This is an open time in which the children may choose learning centers based on their own interests. Teachers introduce new materials during Morning Meetings, so that children will know how to interact with them. As the children mature, they participate more frequently in Small Group activities, in which they engage in teacher-directed hands-on projects.
Specific Curriculum Areas at the TCEE and Examples of Related Activities
- A cozy classroom library, with a variety of books for children to browse independently and to be read to individually or in small groups.
- Books displayed in each center of the classroom (for example, books about building appear in the block area). This helps children with varying learning interests and styles become excited about literature.
- A print rich environment, in which children see labels, names, messages, and symbols associated with objects and routines.
- A variety of writing materials, offered at varying times and ways. For example, a five-year-old might record observations of a science project in her Science journal, and a three-year-old might experiment with writing letters using stencils at a Writing Center.
- The introduction of letters and phonics through group language experiences (at Morning Meeting and Circle Time) and through play. For example, a teacher might introduce a new poem at Morning Meeting, and point out all of the words that begin with the /R/ sound. Or, children might discover an alphabet matching game has been set out for them at a classroom table.
- Handwriting Without Tears, a multi-sensory writing program, is used with older children to build fine motor skills, introduce letters, and support emergent writers.
- Occasional family projects are sent home, encouraging children and parents to read and write together.
- Activities and materials that promote number sense, including counting, sorting, comparing, graphing, and seriating.
- Activities that encourage an understanding of geometry, including puzzles, matching games, tangrams, Legos, and blocks.
- Activities that encourage measurement and the recording and analysis of data, including comparing length and volume, graphing, and the use of Venn diagrams.
- A number rich environment, in which children see math in action and use it daily. For example, teachers and children might count out crackers for snack, or count the number of children present. Children are encouraged to write numbers when age appropriate.
- A wide variety of materials are offered, including paint, clay, wood, glue, paper, wire, stickers, markers, scissors, etc.
- We value the process of creating art over the product. We encourage children to build their skills and to use their imagination. By doing so, we are better able to teach art technique, to build fine motor skills and sensory tolerance, and to encourage a young child’s rich imagination and aesthetic joy.
- We display children’s art carefully and thoughtfully, and in doing so, teach our children that their play and work are valued in our classrooms.
- We offer children opportunities to make “real” things that can be used at home, such as a seder plate or a challah cover.
- A variety of sensory materials, including play-dough, clay, shaving cream, flour, cornmeal, sand, soil, water, and cotton balls are available. Teachers plan the use of these materials in the same way that literacy materials are planned.
- Sensory materials are nearly always available during drop-off. We find that they are soothing, easy to access, promote social connections, and ease a child’s separation.
- Children use sensory materials to explore the conservation of matter, to explore concepts such as volume and quantity, to explore measurement, to connect with peers, to develop language, and to build fine-motor skills.
- Each classroom offers a block center with unit blocks and a variety of accessories to be used with the blocks (including small animals, people, and vehicles).
- Children use blocks to build strength and motor skills.
- Children use blocks to socially connect with each other.
- Blocks provide infinite opportunities for children to develop math and physical science skills as they work to balance objects, to notice symmetry, to build ramps and levers, etc.
- Small manipulative toys (such as Legos or MagnaTiles) are offered as table-top activities. Larger manipulative toys (such as Bristle Blocks) are offered on soft, cozy rugs.
- Manipulative toys are used to promote mathematical and physical science skills.
- Children often create elaborate stories about their creations, and in doing so, are building their language and literacy skills.
- Each classroom has a cozy dramatic play area, with a variety of props, dress-up clothing, and furniture.
- Dramatic play set-ups frequently change to mirror the subject being studied by the children. For example, during Chanukah, a menorah and toy latkes might be added. Or, during a unit on sea creatures, teachers might set up a marine animal rescue station.
- Labeled items and word cards promote literacy skills in this area. In the older classes, writing materials are frequently added so that children can explore writing in the many ways that adults use it. For example, they might create a grocery list.
- When age appropriate, toy money is added (both American and Israeli) to promote numeracy skills.
- Each classroom features an attractive science center, with age appropriate tools, such as magnifying glasses, magnets, and thermometers.
- A key focus of our science curriculum is the exploration and study of the natural changes that occur throughout the seasons in the New England environment.
- Key concepts include observation, prediction, and inquiry.
- Science journals are used to record the children’s observations and hypotheses, and to promote expository writing and speaking skills.
Social and Emotional Skills
- Rooted in the study of Judaic values, the teaching of social and emotional skills is a key component to our curriculum. This teaching happens explicitly (for example, a class might view a teacher-performed puppet show about name calling and then problem-solve solutions) and implicitly (through intentional interactions with teachers and carefully designed routines and spaces).
- We emphasize kindness to peers and adults, care-taking to the environment, and independent problem-solving.
- We foster independence and self-help skills, increasing our expectations as children’s skills develop.