Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kindergarten Readiness- How We Teach the ABC's- and a Whole Lot More

Children are presented with diverse, hands-on material which are carefully selected based on their interests and developmental needs.  Through exploration, discovery and questioning- children learn and build upon their emerging skills. Using 'curriculum areas' (which often intersect), we are able to focus on specific goals and objectives for the children.  This curriculum will prepare the children with all the skills needed to be successful in Kindergarten and beyond, insha'allah.  The most important skills for Kindergarten readiness are strong social and emotional development.

Islamic Studies
Children have the opportunity to use hands-on material, such as puzzles, teacher-made activities and literature that explore Islamic themes.  They also have a space to performing Salat alongside the teacher.  Group time is utilized to present Islamic concepts, using felt-board stories, songs, rhymes, interactive activities, games, discussions, etc. Additionally, Islamic manners and concepts are introduced and practiced naturally during the day, such as saying dua’ before eating, pointing out the beauty of Allah’s creation during a science exploration or exploring books about the world around us. 

Practicing our Salat movements

Language & Literacy
Activities in the literacy area support children’s imagination and creativity.  They learn about the importance of print as a means for communicating and gaining information.  They are exposed to new ideas and experiences when they explore different literary activities.

In the literacy area children have the opportunity to develop  literacy concepts such as language, phonemic awareness, concepts of print, concepts of books, fine motor skills and alphabet knowledge.  They explore emergent reading and writing activities. Listening and thinking skills are enhanced, as they listen and tell and retell stories.  

Making a mail box

Mailing letters

Nature study
Art enhances children’s creative and literacy development by allowing them to reflect and expand on stories, create their own stories, and develop their creative and emotional expression in a safe and accepting environment. This is an important part of learning how to express themselves and to communicate. In the art area children are given the opportunities to learn important art concepts and creativity, as well as to practice decision making, learn about cause and effect, identify colors and shapes, texture, design, refine hand-eye coordination, develop fine and gross motor skills, express feelings, and practice sharing.

For young children, the process of creating is what is most important, not what they actually create. Through their art, children express how they feel, think, and view the world. Art is an outlet that allows children to convey what they may not be able to say with words. Involvement with a rich variety of art materials instills confidence. Art is enjoyable and satisfying for young children. It enables them to learn many skills, express themselves, appreciate beauty and have fun -- all at the same time.
Painting our bird feeder- team work

This picture represents a whole story
Exploring liquid water colours

Practicing scissor skills

Stamping zeros

Patterns and sequencing

Math, Puzzles, Games, & Manipulatives 
 The Math and Number Concepts  encourages exploration of concepts related to math, as well as, literacy. Children develop creative problem-solving, logical thinking skills and practice emerging math skills such as sorting, classification, counting, sequencing and matching. Physical development is enhanced as children develop hand-eye coordination and  fine muscle skills. Children learn to work cooperatively in small groups playing simple table games and building together. They begin to demonstrate perseverance and self-regulation, as well as experiencing satisfaction in their accomplishments as they work at a task until it is completed.

Exploring weight and colour matching

Building with Bristol Blocks

Fishing Game


Community helpers-Matching

Fine motor skills and matching/sequencing
Exploring fractions

Science & Discovery
This area provides materials for children to learn about the world Allah has created, problem-solve, discover, explore, evaluate, and draw conclusions, sequencing, classifying and recording.  Children will be able to work together to find out what it feels like to be a scientist.  Literacy skills are practiced as children observe, evaluate and reflect on different science activities they are engaged in.  They make discoveries, practice making predictions and inferences, which are critical in developing comprehension skills used in reading.

What can you see and discover?

Discovery bottles
Exploring Magnetism 

Exploring natural material

Blocks & Building
Children have the opportunity to develop many cognitive skills as they experiment with the size, shape, color, number, and volume of the materials in this area. They test physics principles when they build skyscrapers and bridges carefully balancing each block they add to their design. They practice social skills when they share, negotiate for materials, and collaborate with other children. Symbolic thinking is developed as they create models of architectural elements from their world. Vocabularies expand and literacy learning is enhanced when children talk and draw about their creations.

When children lift, shove, stack and move blocks, they learn about weight and size. Discoveries about balance, sequence and gravity are made. When playing with blocks, children gain many logical thinking skills, including the ability to make use of classification and equivalence. Each time they use blocks, they are expanding critical thinking by making decisions about how to build a structure or solve a construction problem.
Working together to build the biggest train

Dramatic Play
In the dramatic play area children take on a role and recreate real-life experiences. They use props and make-believe about a wide variety of topics.  As children plan, implement, and construct their play they have the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas with language. Through the use of language they learn social skills, negotiating skills, and conflict resolution techniques. They draw on past experiences to try to solve problems and construct their understanding of new concepts.

The ability to pretend is very important to children's later academic success. When children pretend, they have to recall experiences they have had and re-create them. To do this, they have to be able to picture their experiences in their minds. For example, to play the role of a doctor, children have to remember what tools a doctor uses, how a doctor examines a patient, and what a doctor says. In playing the role of doctor, children have to be able to cooperate with other children and defend their own ideas.

As children act out roles, they develop many new skills. They learn about themselves, their families and society. Engaging in dramatic play, they learn to judge and select relevant information. This is an essential skill for cognitive development. Children also learn from one another as they interact in socio-dramatic play. They learn to ask and answer questions and to work together to solve problems.

Doctors at work

 Outdoor play is fun for children and important to their growth and development. Opportunities to climb, jump, run, skip, hop, throw, catch and ride provide children with healthy release of energy. Being outside allows children to stretch their muscles, breathe in fresh air, take in sunshine, and enjoy the freedom of space.
What goes on outdoors is much more than simply physical activity. Children advance in all areas of development when they play outdoors. The special qualities of the outdoor environment set the stage for unique experiences. Science, for example, comes alive when nature is explored and observed firsthand. 
Social skills and language develop as children build castles together in the sandbox or work together to carry a heavy pail full of sand or water. Children also pull each other in the wagon and negotiate compromises about the use of equipment.

Sand & Water Table- Sensory
Children's explorations with sand and water help build various skills. By sifting sand and pouring water, children improve their physical dexterity. By joining others in blowing bubbles or making a sand castle, they develop social skills. At the same time, they enhance their cognitive skills as they explore why certain objects sink in water and others float.   As a liquid, water can be splashed, poured, frozen and evaporated. As a solid, sand can be sifted, raked, shoveled and dumped. Play with each substance can be used to foster children's social-emotional, cognitive, and physical growth.    

 A child has a practical math lesson in fractions when she pours a cup full of sand into a two-cup container. Her fine-motor skills are also being developed as she washes a tea set or maneuvers a cup full of sand into a sifter. Her eye-hand coordination is helped.
Sensory explorations encourage children to explore and learn about cause and effect. (For example, what happens if I put a sponge in the water? What happens if I then squeeze the sponge?).

Play dough is great for building fine motor skills

Group Time 
Generally teachers begin this group time with a specific topic for discussion. It may be a topic related to Islamic studies, a project the class is working on, or it may focus on a specific skill. Teachers also include stories, creative movement, games, songs & rhymes. These activities promote language development, fine-motor skills, and coordination, as well as self-esteem. Children learn to focus, work in a group, take-turns, share ideas and feelings, new concepts and have fun.

Library Area
When children are read to regularly and encouraged to look through books on their own, to listen to stories, and to make up their own stories, they begin to understand that pictures have meaning and that words tell a story. Their language skills grow through exposure to books with different words. Exposure to multi-cultural and multi-generational books and stories help children to begin to understand how people are different and that our differences make us each special. 

 Exposure to books and storytelling helps children understand that their feelings, fears, questions and problems are not unique to them- that people have these things in common. Acquiring a love for books is one of the most powerful incentives for children to become readers. 

 Snack, like other scheduled activities, are exceptionally good learning times. Children can learn to say the appropriate Dua’s, serve themselves, to eat with a group, and to try new foods. They will learn to use utensils and napkins as their skills develop. They will also learn by watching others which is one reason why it is valuable for teachers to sit with children during meals.
By our keeping health and safety as a primary concern, children learn to understand and respect each others food allergies, as well as family preferences and beliefs about foods.  Children use gatherings, such as snack as social times. Pleasant conversations at the table create a comfortable atmosphere for children to feel a part of a group.
Children can also feel useful and proud of being able to help with mealtimes by setting up the table, sponging the table after eating, and throwing out their own trash.