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Early Childhood Program

Announcing Our Early Childhood Program for 3- and 4-Year-Olds

We are excited to announce plans to expand our work with younger children. In the fall of 2020, we will introduce an Early Childhood Program for 3- and 4-year-olds. Inspired by the success of our PreK program, and thanks in large part to PreK Teacher Karen Shorr’s pioneering vision and expertise in developmental best practices, this new model will enable even more young children to benefit from the transformative value of the Brookwood experience. 

The program will offer flexible half-day and full-day possibilities that best fit parents’ needs, including after-school care until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5:00 p.m. on Friday. By including both 3- and 4-year-olds in an integrated classroom model, younger children will be able to demonstrate a capacity to participate in more complex activities when initiated by older peers, and older children will view younger children as needing their help, thus creating leadership opportunities. This mutually-enhancing environment of cooperation helps all children feel confident, connected and empowered—necessary precursors for optimal learning and growth.

Our Approach

Our youngest students are adventurers: they are eager to connect, explore and learn. We support them in their growth and independence during this very special time through a thoughtfully-sequenced curriculum that creates an environment filled with possibilities. Our Early Childhood Program follows an integrated curriculum model that teaches children through meaningful context. By introducing an overarching big idea, then weaving traditional subjects such as math, literacy and social studies around one central theme students are able to access information and skills in a deeper, more meaningful way.

At Brookwood, we teach and model kindness, compassion and social competency; it is our belief that all children can feel that they are contributing members of a community. Using five basic tenets as a foundation—empathy/civility, sense of self, resiliency, advocacy and personal responsibility—students learn to pay attention to their feelings and emotions, and respect and honor those of their peers. Students are exposed to weekly mindfulness practices where they begin to acquire the tools to work with daily situations. Service learning projects are also used to teach students about local and global issues through research and action.

Classroom Communities

At Brookwood, teachers lay the foundations for strong class communities: expectations are shared, routines are established and rules are created in order to help all kids be their best. We devote the beginning weeks of school to practicing the skills needed to create and maintain a cooperative and collaborative environment. Classroom communities are created anew every September—each one unique and distinct, molded by the personalities and passions of its students and teachers—with the overarching goal of honoring all individuals as members of our broader, vibrant Brookwood community.

Building Relationships Across Grades

As part of our Personal Growth and Development (PGD) program, students meet with fourth grade buddies regularly to foster a greater understanding of what it means to be an empathetic and responsible member of our school community. It is a wonderful opportunity for both the younger and older students to form relationships that last throughout their years at Brookwood.

 

Curriculum Overview

Mathematics

A central focus of our math curriculum is developing each child’s beginning number sense (good intuition about numbers and their relationships) through daily practice. Numbers and math concepts are woven throughout our daily routines and lessons; for example, during morning meeting, children use schedule cards to learn about number groups, counting and patterns. Students are exposed to number and operation, geometry and spatial concepts, measurement, and patterns/algebra. They also analyze data and build math strategies by talking about how they came up with their answer (i.e. “There are 12 cards. I know because I counted them.” or “There are 12 cards. There are five on the top and five on the bottom and two more.”)

Literacy

Students are immersed in print and language during the course of their day. From environmental print to sitting in our classroom library with headsets that play a read along book, they are seeing and hearing words. Our literacy curriculum is filled with games, big books and integrated phonemic awareness activities that support all children in their emergent reading and writing skills. We believe that a strong foundation of writing begins with oral narratives. Our goal is for students to build effective communication skills, and with three, four and five year olds, this begins with oral language and is then supported with illustrations. Children begin to build foundational literacy skills, and most importantly, see themselves as readers and writers.

Science

Students engage in the type of study that both promotes scientific understanding and also develops the scientific habits of mind that can help them make sense of the natural and designed worlds. Through hands-on and collaborative projects within the classroom, around our 30-acre campus and beyond, students explore concepts and content that build skills such as observation and problem solving. Our goal is to demonstrate curiosity and a passion for exploration, enabling PreK students to see scientific inquiry as a dynamic, enjoyable and exciting endeavor.

Social Studies

Our social studies curriculum is based upon the themes of community and responsibility. Students begin to see themselves as members of a community outside of their families, and build awareness about how their actions and contributions affect their peers. Common aspects of cultures are explored, including religion, language, music, education and celebrations. We integrate an anti-bias curriculum in our social studies units in order to share a different perspective with the children. What makes us similar? What makes us unique? We also look at each child’s favorite food. Where does it grow? How does it get here? Does everyone in the world have access to it? Through food, students explore geography, civics, economics and history.

Library

Students visit the library at least once a week for a dedicated library class where they are exposed to a variety of story types and lengths, especially through children’s literature, that enhance the classroom curriculum. Reading is the core of personal and academic competency and students begin by “reading” images to discern meaning. In addition to learning how to locate the early reading section of the library and find specific books with assistance, students begin to understand the responsibility of book care by borrowing and returning books and materials. Led by our librarian, students acquire information through observation and listening and strengthen their literacy skills. Our extensive 18,000+ volume collection serves as a valuable resource for students and faculty throughout the school year as part of our integrated curriculum model, and it also provides families with a variety of child and adolescent development resources.

Music & Performing Arts

Jump, laugh and sing! Students are provided with many opportunities to express themselves musically, both within their classroom as well as in designated music classes. Students learn to understand pitch, tap steady beats with rhythm sticks and Orff instruments (xylophones and rhythmic instruments), play in an ensemble, and mimic simple dynamics such as “loud” and “soft” music through song and body movement. This also benefits fine and gross motor development for our youngest students. Throughout the year, students have various opportunities to perform songs and choreography. A culminating production takes place each spring with students singing, dancing and acting in an annual play.

Visual Arts

Our primary goal is to create an atmosphere in which each student feels encouraged and supported in their creative endeavors. We truly believe that each child is an artist. Students visit our dedicated art classrooms and learn to follow simple instructions while gaining exposure to a broad range of materials. Basic art concepts and skills are introduced, practiced and reinforced with the intention of building greater confidence and self-assurance as young makers. By developing an awareness of themselves and their classmates as artists, they are able to work collaboratively and cooperatively on a variety of art projects throughout the school year.

Physical Education

Beginning with our youngest students, we provide a comprehensive physical education program that is designed to help each child develop an appreciation of the benefits of being physically active. Movements such as kicking, throwing and rolling promote gross motor skills and are used as foundations for various game play activities.

Technology

Throughout the year, students use technology-driven concepts and hands-on projects, such as making stop motion videos of cardboard owls or creating digital books, to supplement and reinforce classroom curriculum. Using simple circuits, students learn how to create conductive play dough or make bristlebots with toothbrush heads and vibration motors. They “visit” locations related to other classroom projects using virtual reality (VR) goggles; for example, they may “travel” to a cacao farm and a chocolate factory as an extension of their study of food sources. Students also build and program KIBO robots that teach them basic coding concepts such as loops and conditionals.

Outdoor Classrooms

A dedicated outdoor space located just steps from our classroom is used to support and broaden concepts and observations from a variety of projects and curriculum. From creating artistic sculpture gardens using recycled materials to conducting scientific-driven field work on nature walks, students utilize the natural elements of our campus throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons. Hands-on learning experiences, both in the classroom and outdoors, inspire students to foster lifelong habits of inquiry, critical thinking and creativity.
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