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Published by admissions, 2016-09-12 14:31:10

Early Learning curriculum guide

Early Learning curriculum guide

Keywords: Early Learning,Preschool,Prekindergarten,Private School,Gig Harbor Academy,Childcare,Our School,Curriculum,Guide

Early Childhood Learning
Curriculum Guide

Ages 2 - 5 years old

6820 32nd St NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Gig Harbor Academy
Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood classrooms are places where
children engage in a strong curriculum as their innate capacities are
fostered in a warm, natural environment. It is a safe, active, and nurturing
place where teachers care deeply about each and every child. Language
arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts are introduced in
a manner that is genuine, balanced, and developmentally appropriate for
each age level. Children are encouraged to explore, manipulate, create,
and construct things in a caring and supportive environment that enables
each child to feel secure and happy away from home as they learn to
understand and care for one another.
At Gig Harbor Academy we emphasize self-discovery of the world through
an inquiry approach to teaching in which children learn through real
experiences with real materials. The cognitive and social development of
each child is encouraged through collaboration with others, discussion,
and developing personal meaning through the application of what is
In each classroom, teachers work alongside children to facilitate not only
their intellectual awareness but also the social/emotional development
of each child. Our early childhood program not only empowers every
child through joyful discovery but also sets the foundation for further
academic learning and social/emotional development in Gig Harbor
Academy’s elementary school.

Paul Raschke, Ed.D
Head of School
Gig Harbor Academy


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood

Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood program (ages 2-5) is cognitive-
based, where young children learn through active exploration in an
environment which is rich in materials and opportunities to converse,
socialize, work, play and negotiate with others. The program is
committed to structured, purposeful inquiry that engages students
actively in their own learning. Our approach to learning encourages and
develops curiosity in young children. They construct meaning from the
world around them by drawing on their prior knowledge, as we provide
provocation through new experiences, and present opportunities for
reflection and consolidation. This approach encourages young children
to question, consider, and refine their understanding of the social and
natural world around them.
Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood classrooms are designed to
encourage curiosity, exploration and problem solving in an atmosphere
of warmth, affection and respect for each child. Teachers plan academic
experiences based on children’s interests and age-appropriate educational
concepts. Children work both individually and collaboratively, and are
actively involved in experiences which include foundations of math,
science, social studies, creative art, language arts, music, movement
and dramatic play. All interrelated aspects of the child’s growth and
development are considered: social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and


Gig Harbor Academy

Approaches to Learning in Early Childhood

Learning in early childhood is a complex blending of five
elements at Gig Harbor Academy:
1. Active Exploration

Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood approach recognizes that children
are the source of their own learning which, in turn, forms the center of
the curriculum. Teachers support children’s active learning by providing
a variety of materials, making unit plans, and reviewing activities with
children. Further, teachers interact with and carefully observe individual
children and lead small and large group learning activities. Teachers
continually encourage and support children’s interests and involvement
in activities that occur within an organized environment and a consistent

2. Structured and Unstructured Play

Both structured and unstructured play, designed by teachers in order
to reach specific learning goals, are particularly important for this age
group and are a significant aspect of our learning approach. During play
children learn new concepts by exploring and manipulating materials
and learn to imagine themselves in new situations. They discover how
to apply unique skills such as, role playing, taking turns, and setting and
following rules. In addition, they practice oral language skills as they
communicate with peers. As children play they remember, incorporate,
and rehearse new knowledge and skills in a variety of ways.

3. Inquiry-Based

Young children love to ask questions. It’s one of the ways in which they
make sense of the world and their place in it. As children are curious of
the world around them they pose questions and as they do, they develop
valuable and complex problem-solving skills. When children are able to


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide
pose questions and investigate the answers they feel in charge of their
own learning. Inquiry-based approaches to learning harness this spirit of
investigation, creating an interesting, engaging, and meaningful learning
experience that uses children’s interests and questions as a starting point
for learning.
4. Self-Discovery
Young children learn best through self-initiated activity with concrete
objects. Through social interactions with their peers, children learn to
understand another’s point of view and develop empathy. At Gig Harbor
Academy, children are active in their own learning, they make sense of
the world for themselves as they become independent thinkers. Being
autonomous, having choices, and making decisions, each child learns to
be responsible for their own learning.
Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood Curriculum, although outwardly
focused on self-initiated activities, has a specific structure. It makes
provisions for the different starting points from which children develop
their learning, it builds on what each child can already do, and the
tasks given are relevant, making certain that content is developmentally
appropriate and that it matches the different levels of young children’s


Gig Harbor Academy
5. Relevance
At Gig Harbor Academy young children learn by connecting with things
that have meaning to them. Children need a personal connection to
the material they are learning, whether that’s through engaging them
emotionally or connecting the new information with previously acquired
knowledge. Engaging students in relevant work also increases their
motivation to try.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Social - Emotional Development

Gig Harbor Academy realizes that a child’s social-emotional development
is as important as their cognitive and physical development. We believe
that the key to successful emotional and social development in young
children is having positive relationships with trusting and caring adults. A
child’s social-emotional development provides them with a sense of who
they are in the world, how they learn, and helps them establish quality
relationships with others. It is what drives an individual to communicate,
connect with others, and more importantly, helps resolve disputes, gain
confidence, and reach goals.
Early childhood educators at Gig Harbor Academy create a classroom
community where each child feels a sense of acceptance and belonging;
a place where children learn to identify and understand their own
feelings and express their own emotions, all the while building positive
relationships with peers and teachers. Modeled in the early childhood
classroom is a respect for all points of views and, as children come to
understand the reasons and emotions behind these point of views,
compassion begins to be developed.
A fundamental component of Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood
social-emotional program is the cultivation of empathy. The ability to
recognize, feel, and respond to the needs of others is fostered by creating
emotional attachments with children ensuring they are heard, seen, and
understood. A wide array of instructional practices, such as utilizing
positive reinforcement, role playing, and modeling appropriate behavior
fosters self-confidence and independence. By establishing consistent
classroom routines, children find security in their surroundings
empowering them to understand and express feelings and behaviors that
facilitate positive relationships.


Gig Harbor Academy
Children in the early childhood program are given many opportunities
to acquire social problem-solving skills by using words to resolve conflict
through large group, small group, and one-on-one peer interactions. They
cultivate necessary skills for regulating their own behavior, establish and
sustain relationships, and develop empathy for others through pretend
play, sharing, and positive communication skills. We encourage children
to think of a variety of solutions as they build positive relationships, while
giving them multiple examples to resolve peer conflicts. This enables each
child to share their feelings, listen to one another, and develop empathy in
a supportive family-like environment.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Motor Skill Development

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involve movement of the large muscles in arms,
legs, and torso. Gross motor skills involve activities such as: walking,
running, skipping, jumping, throwing, and climbing. It may be easiest to
think of “gross motor” skills as skills most utilized in a gym class or on a
playground. Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten children need strong gross
motor skills so they can engage in age-appropriate physical activities
(such as running, climbing, and throwing) and so they can participate
in classroom activities that require body control (such as walking in a
crowded room or sitting still during a lesson).
Children are expected to begin Preschool with basic control over the
large muscles in their body (the arms, legs and torso) but without finely
tuned control over these muscles. For example, a child in preschool may
be able to walk up and down the stairs, but may place two feet on each
step before moving to the next step, instead of placing only one foot on
each step. Also, a preschooler may be able to hold a large bin of markers
but may accidentally spill it when trying to walk while holding it.
As children progress through Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten, they
will gain increased control over all large muscles in their bodies and be
able to execute precise movements such as: skipping, hopping, climbing,
carrying large objects while walking, and sitting cross-legged for up to
thirty minutes. Our outdoor playground is fertile ground for development
of these gross motor skills.


Gig Harbor Academy
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills involve the coordination of small muscles in the hands
and fingers. Our teachers develop strong fine motor skills in children
by having them complete tasks such as writing, cutting, using a fork or
spoon, threading beads, moving puzzle pieces, zipping, buttoning, and
tying shoe laces.
Children participate in a variety of fine motor activities in early childhood
classrooms, including drawing, cutting, bead threading, and writing.
When children begin preschool, they are expected to be able to write a
few letters, usually those in the child’s first name, and use scissors to cut
in a straight line. During kindergarten a child’s fine motor skills should
progress to the point where he/she is able to accurately write all 26 letters,
the 10 number symbols, and his/her full name with all letters in the
proper order as well as cut straight lines and simple curves. By the end
of kindergarten, a child’s fine motor development should allow him/her
to cut out complicated shapes or figures, tie their own shoes, and color
within the lines.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Communication, Language and Literacy

Oral language is arguably the most crucial area of academic focus during
the preschool/prekindergarten years. It the primary means by which
children gain knowledge about the world, and it is the vital foundation
for children’s literacy development.

By the time children arrive in kindergarten, most will know an average
of 3,000 to 5,000 words. They will also speak in grammatically complex
sentences made up of three or more words.1 These language skills
continually develop over the first five years of life through interactions
with parents and teachers who model spoken language. Our early
childhood program emphasizes listening and speaking as the primary
ways that young children learn new concepts and ideas, and express their
thoughts, observations, and feelings.

Verbal language is addressed in early childhood through vocabulary
building, phonological awareness, letters and words, and comprehension,
all of which are key to children’s literacy development. Phonological
awareness, or the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in language, is
paramount to developing reading skills. A child’s understanding that the
stream of sounds can be broken into smaller units of sound-syllables-
enables children to map sounds onto letters when they begin formal
instruction in reading.

Research has shown that upon entering Kindergarten, a child’s vocabulary
size can predict their ability to comprehend texts throughout elementary
and into middle school.2 At Gig Harbor Academy, children learn new
words and learn about the structure of language in four basic ways:

• Talking with peers and adults in informal and guided conversations.

• Songs, rhymes, finger plays, and movement activities.

• Hearing new words to describe what they experience.

• Being read to and talking about new words.

1. Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, Every Child a Reader, 2007.
2. The Reading Crisis, 2007. Harvard Pub.

Gig Harbor Academy
Gig Harbor Academy advances a child’s vocabulary by helping them learn
words in relation to their specific meanings and in the context that they
are meant to convey. This results in children having a larger vocabulary
and therefore a relatively broader range of knowledge in which to more
ably comprehend, learn from, and enjoy the books they read.
Our early childhood classrooms are language rich. Children are exposed
to adults who have meaningful conversations with them regularly about a
broad variety of subjects resulting in children becoming better at speaking
and comprehending. Children gain the words they need to represent
and communicate their growing knowledge about the world, and they
apply what they know to learning even more new words and concepts.
Our classrooms are filled with teachers reading aloud and asking open-
ended questions such as: why, how, and what-if. Teachers are often seen
challenging children to justify their thinking, or encouraging them to tell
and retell stories, and to describe the events.
Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood language and literacy development
lays a robust foundation for developing strong readers. We do this by
providing many opportunities for children to use language in a variety
of ways, by ensuring lots of interesting conversations in which children
are involved, by offering opportunities to play with language in ways that
support phonological awareness, and by incorporating meaningful uses
of literacy into everyday activities.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Cognition & Knowledge of the World

According the National Association for the Education for Young
Children (NAEYC), a child’s development is viewed as an interactive
and transactional process between the growing child and his/her social
and physical world. This process is most clearly seen in the development
of the cognitive domain, which spans a child’s ability to think about,
assimilate, and use information acquired through a variety of pathways,
including both purposeful play and teacher-initiated experiences in the
classroom. Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood curriculum approaches
learning through an active and integrated approach in which children
are stimulated to construct meaning and develop skills across four major
domains: language and literacy, logical mathematical analysis, scientific
investigation and the creative arts. Guided by our use of developmental
benchmarks in these areas, teachers seeks not only to expand what your
child knows, but how your child thinks in their earliest years of schooling.


Gig Harbor Academy

Linguistic Literacy Development

Children arrive in Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten with a wide range
of literary experiences. In Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood
program, children learn about literacy as they make use of reading and
writing to further their investigation of new concepts and information.
Teachers provide both intentional instruction in key areas of early
childhood literacy along with integrating literacy into all subject areas
in the classroom, including math, science, and social studies. In this way,
children gain foundational knowledge, vocabulary, and print skills to
prepare them to read and comprehend text. Embedding literacy learning
within other disciplines teaches young children that reading and writing
are meaningful and purposeful.
Gig Harbor Academy has adapted The Creative Curriculum’s Language
and Literacy Objectives and the NAEYC Standards for Literacy,
to delineate what young children should know and be able to do. The
following language and learning standards are developmental in nature,
beginning with 2 year olds in Preschool and progressively becoming
more complex by the end of Pre-Kindergarten.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Listens and understands increasingly complex language.

Comprehends language:
• Identifies familiar people, animals, and objects when prompted
leading to responding appropriately to complex statements,
questions, vocabulary, and stories. Children are exposed to words
that they will use throughout their academic life (e.g. syllable) in
the classrooms.

Follows directions:
• Follows simple requests not accompanied by gestures leading
to following detailed, instructional, multi-step directions. By
providing clear and concise directions (e.g. hang up your backpack,
wash your hands, and sit on the carpet) children become inspired
through the feeling of accomplishment.

Uses language to express thoughts and needs.

Uses an expanding expressive vocabulary:
• Names familiar people, animals, and objects leading to incorporating
new, less-familiar or technical words in everyday conversation.

Speaks clearly:
• Uses some words and word-like sounds and is understood by most
familiar people leading to pronouncing multi-syllabic or unusual
words correctly.

Uses conventional grammar:
• Uses three to four word sentences; may omit some words or use
some words incorrectly leading to using long, complex sentences
and following most grammatical rules.


Gig Harbor Academy

Tells about another time or place:
• Tells simple stories about objects, events and people not present,
lacks many details and a conventional beginning, middle, and
end leading to telling elaborate stories that refer to other time
and places. Children in Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood
program progress from simple, nonsensical stories to more detailed
stories before entering Kindergarten.

Uses suitable conversational & other communication skills.

Engages in conversations:
• Initiates and attends to brief conversations leading to engaging in
complex and lengthy conversations.

Uses social rules of language:
• Uses appropriate eye contact, pauses, and simple verbal prompts
when communicating leading to using acceptable language and
social rules during communication with others. In our early
childhood classrooms children are encouraged to communicate
their feelings verbally, rather than physically, and through role

Demonstrates knowledge of print materials and their uses.

Uses and appreciates books:
• Shows interest in books leading to using various types of books for
their intended purpose. A variety of books are accessible at all times
in the classrooms and children are encouraged to explore them.

Uses print concepts:
• Shows understanding that text is meaningful and can be read
leading to matching a written word with a spoken word; tracks
print from the end of a line of text to the beginning of the next line.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Comprehends and responds to books and other texts.

Interacts during read-alouds and book conversations:
• Contributes particular language from the book at the appropriate
time leading to reconstructing a story using pictures, text, and
props; begins to make inferences and draw conclusions.

Uses emergent reading skills:
• Pretends to read a familiar book, treating each page as a separate
unit, names and describes what is on each page using pictures as
cues leading to trying to match oral language to words on the page;
points to words as reading, uses different strategies (e.g., sounding
out words, known words, and patterns in text) to make meaning
from print.

Retells stories:
• Retells some events from a story with teacher prompting, leading
to retelling stories with many details about characters, events, and
plots. Teachers will often read a story to the class and then give the
children the opportunity to act the story out or write about it.


Gig Harbor Academy
Writes to convey meaning:

• Scribbles or marks as writing leading to late “invented spelling”
(begins to include beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words;
represents most of the sounds in words in the correct order). A
writing center is set up in the classrooms allowing the children the
opportunity to practice this very important skill.

Writes name and familiar words:
• Writes as scribbles or marks leading to writing accurate name and
familiar words.

Children attending Gig Harbor Academy’s Early Childhood Program
will develop a wealth of knowledge about reading and writing. Teachers
promote each child’s literacy development by embedding reading and
writing in content-rich learning experiences. Teachers further make
connections between a child’s phonemic awareness and alphabet
knowledge, engage in shared reading, encourage developmental writing,
and provide opportunities for linguistic play (e.g. rhyming games) in a
print-rich classroom. The goal is to create engaging experiences which
focus on using literacy to communicate and create meaning as children
learn about their world.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide

Mathematical Literacy

Mathematics in early childhood is presented in a variety of ways that
are meaningful to young children. Through play and explicit instruction
children explore mathematical ideas and concepts developing a sound
math foundation that supports success in Kindergarten. The following
math standards are adapted from the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics, The Creative Curriculum, and Teaching Strategies Gold.
These math standards are developmentally appropriate and articulate
what children in early childhood should know and be able to do in
mathematics. Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood math components
focus on the following:

Numbers and Operations:

Number concepts are the foundation of math. Children’s understanding
of these concepts develop over time as they explore, manipulate and
organize materials in the classroom:

• Counting is one of the number concepts children understand first.
Rote counting is the memorization of a sequence of numbers.
These skills are developed as children join in songs, finger-plays
and rhymes that involve numbers.

One-to-one correspondence:
• One–to-one correspondence refers to individually counting objects
in a set. For example, children develop this skill by counting and
touching each object in creating a set.

• Quantity is the understanding of how many are in a set. Children
can look at a small set of objects and quickly identify the number of
items without counting, also referred to a “subitizing”.


Gig Harbor Academy


Geometry in early childhood helps children systematically represent
and describe their world. Children learn about and gain knowledge of
2-D and 3-D shapes when given the opportunities to create designs with
pattern blocks, block construction, drawing, and painting. Using their
verbal language skills, children are able to identify, describe, compare and
contrast two and three-dimensional shaped objects.


Measurement in early childhood is using nonstandard units to measure
and make comparisons. Children develop an understanding about
measurement by using a variety of materials such as cubes, paper clips,
pencils while participating independently and in small group hands on

Patterns (algebra):

Patterns are regular arrangements of such things as objects, shapes, and
numbers. As children learn to recognize repetitions of basic units, they
figure out relationships among objects. Young children learn to recognize
and analyze simple patterns, copy them, create them, extend them, and
make predictions about them. For example, using Duplo blocks to create
a red-blue-red-blue (ABAB) pattern.

Data Analysis:

Data Analysis includes collecting and organizing information and figuring
out ways to represent it. In early childhood this involves classifying,
graphing, counting, measuring, and comparing.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide


Children in Gig Harbor Academy’s early childhood program begin to
learn the practices of scientific inquiry as well as foundational knowledge
in science. Together, these skills and concepts lay the groundwork for
children’s learning in science. Scientific inquiry builds on children’s
natural desire to discover new knowledge about their surroundings. The
goal is to actively engage children in the process that scientists use to
answer questions about the world. Teachers guide children as together
they determine interesting science questions and suggest possible
methods to find an answer or explanation. Children then participate in
observing and experimenting to determine an answer to their question.
As children seek answers to their questions, they learn to enjoy, appreciate,
and understand their surroundings. These are scientific activities. Early
childhood science falls into three categories: physical science, life science,
Earth and the environment.


Gig Harbor Academy

Physical Science

Physical science concerns the physical properties of materials. In
preschool, children explore materials and learn about weight, shape, size,
color, and temperature. They explore how things move and change by
building different objects, or pick up objects with a magnet, In doing this,
they are learning about the physical properties of objects.
By the end of Pre-Kindergarten, children will show an increased
understanding of changes in materials and cause and effect relationships.
They will use their senses and tools to gather information, investigate
materials, and observe relationships. They will also observe and discuss
common properties, differences, and comparisons among objects and

Life Science

Life science involves living things. Regardless of the life science being
studied, certain concepts will challenge children to think like a scientist.
Concepts such as, How do living things get food? What are the important
characteristics of plants and animals? What do plants and animals need
in order to grow? How do plants and animals depend on each other?
Life science also includes learning about our bodies and how to stay
healthy. These topics are taught by exploring big questions such as: How
do our bodies grow and change? How do we use our senses? Why do we
need different kinds of food? How do we stay safe and healthy? These and
other scientific questions are explored in our early childhood classrooms.


Early Childhood Curriculum Guide
By the end of Pre-Kindergarten students will be exploring and identifying
features of plants and animals that help them live in different habitats,
know that living things go through life cycles, name some body parts and
know their functions, recognize that people have unique features but are
alike in many ways, and know that people need food, exercise, and rest
to stay healthy.
Earth and the Environment
Earth and the environment involves the natural world. In early childhood,
children learn by exploring natural settings directly. Some of the questions
explored in Earth and the environment are: What is the geography like in
our community? What can we see in the sky? How do those things in the
sky affect the world around us? What is the weather in our community?
How does it affect us? How can we take care of the world around us?
How does weather change over seasons? What materials can be reused
or recycled?


Empowering every child through
joyful discovery

Gig Harbor Academy
6820 32nd Street NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335


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