CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT
Children learn through exploring and play! There is a great deal of new research indicating that the skills we teach and when we teach them are critical to a child’s success in reading and his/her ability to regulate his own feelings and make friends as well as all developmental areas. Because of rapid brain development, this critical learning has to take place as early as possible through the partnership of parents and teachers. In early childhood programming, children are provided with opportunities to explore and apply new skills through child and teacher initiated activities. We use the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards as the foundation to the Wisconsin Common Core State Standards and our Wausau School District Program Goals to guide our curricular and assessment decisions. The following is a summary of curriculum components:
Happily Ever After: This literacy component of our curriculum is rooted in solid, current research. Each three week unit consists of 10 lessons that are designed to prepare children for future reading success. “Take-home” books are sent home with each story. You will get parent letters with each unit giving you ideas to practice skills at home.
Phonic Soup: This is a sound awareness program where children learn to produce and listen for individual consonant and vowel sounds in a way that is concrete and meaningful. This is accomplished by having students experience a visual-tactile-auditory connection between common environmental noises and three-dimensional objects, referred to as “sound toys". For example, the phoneme (sound) which is commonly associated with the alphabet letter "Z" is taught by making a connection with a zipper "sound toy." The student holds the zipper and zips it up and down while making the "z" sound associated with the letter "Z."
Handwriting Without Tears: This is our handwriting curriculum. Research supports the active teaching of writing as it is an expression of what we are thinking and reading and builds fine motor skills.
The Pyramid Model-Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (SEFEL): Our staff has advanced training in helping children to identify and regulate their emotions, problem solve their frustrations, and follow rules and expectations. You will hear a lot about “Tucker Turtle”!
Nursery Rhymes: As part of our curriculum, we use traditional nursery rhymes and fingerplays. Nursery rhymes also greatly enrich young children’s vocabularies and supply some early lessons in the ways our language works and encourages thinking skills.
ASSESSMENTS: Our students are checked regularly on benchmarks in all areas of development and assessed specifically on vocabulary development, social emotional development and a fall and spring 4K Development Assessment. In addition, the state of Wisconsin requires that every student in 4K be given the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening instrument. Wisconsin teachers use PALS to identify students at risk of developing reading difficulties, diagnose students' knowledge of literacy fundamentals, monitor progress, and plan instruction that targets students' needs.