The curriculum at SmartStart is planned on the developmental needs and interests of the individual children enrolled.
The curriculum is thematic/literature based and integrated so that, for example, if children are studying insects, they may be finding them outdoors, reading and writing about them, representing them in art, singing and dancing about them in music, doing a play about them in drama, and building obstacle courses or homes for them in blocks or carpentry.
Language, Literacy, and Drama - Children are introduced to current quality literature as well as traditional fairy tales and folk tales. Children are encouraged to dictate their own stories and books which are recorded by the teacher and read to the class. Children are given many opportunities to enact both familiar stories and stories of their own creation. They are encouraged to illustrate these stories and to create scenery and dialogue for dramatic play production. As this process occurs, children gain a deep understanding of the connection between the written and spoken word. And, as they show an interest, children are taught the alphabet and beginning phonics so they can begin to read & write on their own.
French - Two times per week French lessons introduce children to counting, singing, calendar and day to day conversation in French. Studies have shown repeatedly that foreign language learning increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility of mind in young children. The cognitive benefits of learning a second language are many: Beginning foreign language instruction early sets the stage for students to develop advanced levels of proficiencies in said language. Young learners still possess the capacity to develop near native-like pronunciation and intonation in a new language. Finally, children have a natural curiosity about learning which is evident when they engage in learning a new language. They also are open and accepting of people who speak other languages and come from other cultures.
Math Skills - Children are introduced to counting and other beginning math concepts such as sorting and classifying, measuring, adding and subtracting. Our curriculum involves experiences using manipulatives to concretely explore and represent numerical and spatial concepts.
Art - Children are introduced to a wide variety of art experiences designed to help them gain mastery over the materials. With repeated experiences using the tools of art, children become more and more able to creatively self-express by using art as a language to represent the world within and around them. The art program includes the following elements:
Drawing - Through visual aids and movement, children are introduced to the five basic elements of drawing. As they study various aspects of the world around them, children are encouraged to find and observe these elements so that they can learn to represent what they see. Children are offered experiences using wide and fine tip markers, oil pastels, colored pencils, chalk, and clay etching. They are also offered experiences drawing in shaving cream, salt, finger paint, and wipe-off markers.
Painting – Through puppetry, children are introduced to painting processes as they use a variety of brush sizes, textures and painting materials. Children use liquid tempera paint, tempera cakes, liquid water color, glitter paint, luminescent paint, finger paint, and fabric paint. They are encouraged to paint at the table, the easel, and outdoors, and to cooperatively paint scenery for dramatic play.
Forming – Children work with porcelain clay, Model Magic, and Play dough, moving developmentally from exploration to expression and from simple to more complex forms.
Collage – Children work with a wide variety of papers, while learning to incorporate tools and techniques such as hand-tearing, crimping, folding, cutting, pasting, stapling, taping, hole-punching and paper fastening. In collage, children will also be using 3-D materials such as wood and wire, sticks, shells, dried flowers, etc.
Music: Children participate daily in rich music experiences that include singing, rhyming, rhythm instrument play, creative movement with props, song writing, and beginning folk dance. Teachers lead children in music using voice, recorded music, and visual aids. Children are encouraged to contribute their own ideas during the music and movement circle. In this way, they use music as another language for self-expression. Guest music performers visit SmartStart on a regular basis.
Science: Children are offered many experiences with the natural world around them both indoors and out. As they learn to be close observers of detail and begin to try and represent what they see, children gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings. The science program includes the following:
Study of insects, spiders, birds, reptiles, rocks, plants, light and shadows, magnetism, various liquids and solids, etc. Observation, predication, and classification skills are modeled and encouraged.
Outdoor Play: Children are offered a wide variety of experiences designed to enhance large muscle development, balance and coordination including: running, jumping, hopping, pulling, climbing, pedaling, ball skills and hopscotch.
Yoga: Alexandra is a licensed yoga teacher and practicing yogi. She teaches the kids yoga and meditation up to twice per week. Some of the benefits of yoga and meditation are: building self esteem and self respect, better concentration, self discovery and inquisitiveness, physical strength and an overall mind-body connection. While this is not a religious activity in any way, if parents choose to opt out of this class, their child will gladly be offered an alternate activity.
*SmartStart Astronaut and Forest Ranger classrooms curriculum includes regular yoga, French and jazz dance at no additional cost. HappyFeet soccer classes are offered on a weekly basis, for an extra fee, to parents who choose to enroll their children in the HappyFeet program, payable directly to HappyFeet.