These young students have their own classroom with very diverse teaching materials and equipment. Our teacher is Janet Hain, with 20 years’ experience in early childhood teaching. Other teachers come to the classroom to teach music appreciation. Students leave the classroom for classes in Chinese (one of two levels, according to their ability), Spanish, and science 1-2, as well as for PE and tennis.
A dual focus of early childhood education is academics and socialization. Academic instruction begins in the 2nd class period daily, the 1st period being given to social interaction and structuring the academic day. Students organize their personal belongings in cubbies along the walls. Janet draws on great resources in the room – about 1,000 books, large wall maps, large whiteboards, an LCD projector, instructional games, a computer for Internet access to educational videos and other material. Comfortable furnishings allow students to settle in for classes – on chairs at tables for more formal instruction, on the rug for movement and play exercises.
Students gain skills and confidence in English, written and spoken, including phonics, grammar, and style. The depth of instruction is comparable to much higher grades in other schools, delving into genres of writing (e.g., discursive, argumentative), an expansive vocabulary, spelling, and illustration of stories. Students use the highly effective Singapore math program, each student working in a workbook selected as sufficiently challenging for his or her level. Students progress among math levels upon passing a hierarchy of in-book exams that verify their mastery of each level. Art as both drawing and 3-D construction is taught as a subject and is integrated into subjects such as English or social studies.
Students go to other rooms for periods of learning Chinese, Spanish, and tennis. Physical education is a combination of play and occasional targeted exercises in our enclosed courtyard. The tennis class is on our professionally striped parking area, blocked off.