Children learn through play and exploration. Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool is committed to gently guiding its students’ education during the early years by following developmentally appropriate practices in all areas of the curriculum.
In developing relevant lesson plans, teachers implement curriculum which covers all areas of the developing child – social and emotional development, cognitive development, physical development, and language development. Teachers assess the strengths and needs of each child. Class activities are designed to enhance these strengths and to provide experiences in areas needing reinforcement.
The Maryland State Department of Education recommends that all preschool programs utilize a research-based curriculum that aligns with Healthy Beginnings, the state's guidelines for child development for birth to age 3, or with the rigorous Maryland College and Career Ready Standards for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The Maryland State Department of Education maintains a list of recommended curricula which address all areas of the developing child. Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool uses a state-recommended curriculum for its Early Pre-Kindergarten program and implements the curriculum used by Montgomery County Public Schools for its Pre-Kindergarten program.
Early Pre-Kindergarten Curriculum
The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, 6th Edition is used in Good Shepherd Preschool's Early Pre-Kindergarten classes. Because the Creative Curriculum includes material appropriate for preschool students at different stages of development, teachers can tailor the curriculum to meet the needs and abilities of individual classes.
The Creative Curriculum program follows a developmentally appropriate continuum that begins with expectations for very young children and continues through expectations for five-year-old students. The curriculum covers four domains:
- Social-Emotional: This domain includes learning to work in a class environment, taking care of self and being a friend, understanding personal needs, sharing, and taking turns;
- Cognitive: This domain includes problem solving, developing math skills such as sorting, classifying, numeral identification, counting with one-to-one correspondence, patterns, and counting;
- Physical: This domain includes both gross-motor development (running, hopping, balance, and coordination) and fine-motor development (manipulating small toys, writing, drawing, and cutting with scissors);
- Language: This domain involves learning vocabulary and comprehension through songs, fingerplays, story time, and conversation. Alphabet concepts are introduced in informal settings. The sounds of language are a major focus. Students’ listening and speaking skills receive special attention.
Classes engage in five- to seven-week studies on child-friendly, hands-on topics such as Trees, Balls, Music Making, and Sandthat introduce students to new vocabulary and new learning experiences. Within each classroom, teachers create centers which provide opportunities to use a variety of equipment. Blocks, table toys, construction sets, art materials, a dramatic play center, and books and CDs are just a few of the materials which allow children to develop skills at their own pace. Teachers regularly assess children’s progress and work with both individuals and small groups.
Pre-Kindergarten students eagerly explore new concepts. GSLP's Pre-Kindergarten classes follow Montgomery County Public School's Pre-Kindergarten curriculum, Big Day for Pre-K. This comprehensive curriculum has a strong focus on building children’s literacy and social-emotional skills. It follows best practices for early childhood education by taking an integrated approach to learning. Big Day teaches essential skills in early literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies through monthly themes that interest four- and five-year-old students.
Big Day for Pre-K is built around themes centered around topics in social-emotional development, social studies, and science, such as "Ready for School," "Our Community," and "Awesome Animals." It provides skill development in alphabet recognition, concepts of print, sounds of language, letter/sound relationships, and beginning writing, which are taught through theme-specific literature, music, poetry, and art activities. Children learn mathematics skills through hands-on learning experiences in counting, comparing, and identifying quantities; addition and subtraction; informal measurement; sorting; and identifying and describing shapes. Opportunities for learning in science and engineering come through informational texts, teacher-directed activities, and individual investigations, which complement a variety of learning styles.
Teachers will use Big Day for Pre-K to support the implementation of Maryland's Pre-Kindergarten indicators, in additional to several supplemental curriculum resources:
The McGraw-Hill My Math Pre-K program provides hands-on activities to teach math skills aligned with kindergarten expectations. It provides essential instruction in number sense, early addition and subtraction, shapes, classification, basic measurement, and more.
The MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Science program introduces children to the amazing world in which they live. Cooking projects and hands-on investigations are frequently used to substantiate scientific concepts.
Teachers of Pre-Kindergarten classes take into account individual skill levels when planning classroom activities. Thus, a student who is not fully ready for Kindergarten can return for a distinctive, second year of Pre-Kindergarten.
Once a week, students participate in group music class. Music time provides experience in a larger group setting, instills a sense of community, and promotes familiarity with other classes. Children learn songs, play kid-friendly instruments, and learn rhythmic movements and dances.
Music is a significant component of special events at Good Shepherd Preschool. Children learn seasonal songs to perform for families at events such as Fall Festival and the Closing Program. Music is also used to teach important academic concepts. Children learn songs featuring counting, colors, rhymes, and more.
Good Shepherd Preschool believes that art primarily should be about the child's creative exploration of materials. This process-based approach sometimes means your child will bring home many "brown blob" pictures at first as they explore what happens when they mix all the colors together! Know that it is all a natural part of children's artistic development. Children become more intentional in their independent creations as the year progresses.
Some art projects take a more craft-oriented, teacher-led approach. These projects help children work on specific skills, such as following directions or cutting on a line.
Children also have access to a variety of art supplies at the art center every day as well. They may paint at the easel, create collages with paper scraps, or cover page after page in stickers and stick figures. Art like this can help build children's fine-motor control, which improves their ability to form letters.