Lee Academy's Early Childhood program is designed to meet the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of young gifted learners. Students learn in adjoining classrooms, allowing for flexible groupings. Learning groups within each level are flexible, and may change so that students learn with peers, having like needs or interests. Many different assignments for the same objective are used and the complexity is varied based on the student's individual needs. When it is appropriate, a child may join another class for a specific subject area. The teachers make learning meaningful by relating subjects to the students' personal lives and real world situations.
Our classrooms reflect a quality learning environment. Children's work is prominently displayed; the rooms are comfortable, informal, well-organized, and rich in materials. The rooms are arranged into Learning Centers, including Construction, Puzzles, Math, Language, Dramatics, Writer's Workshop, Science, Art and Practical Life. Materials are kept easily accessible to children and are labeled so as to encourage independence and allow choices in activities.
Each school year is full of learning experiences, activities and field studies. Consequently, a significant growth and learning takes place within the relationships of the children. The class will grow to become a community where each individual is respected and responsible. Ample time is allowed at the beginning of each school year to talk about and practice the type of behaviors that create competence and promote respect among the students. A parent-teacher-student partnership is then able to form. This partnership will be visible to the children and this will foster a tight knit community where the children will feel safe, secure and confident.
Weekly Specialty classes include Group Dynamics and Spanish Immersion. Cooking, Gardening, Music, and Art activities are enjoyed on a regular basis both inside and outside of the classroom and are integrated into the curriculum whenever possible.
Science and Social Studies
Social Studies for the young child are based on their daily life experiences and expand to studying the growing world around them. Science and Social Studies concepts are presented through thematic units of study. These studies are integrated throughout the curriculum. Topics of study and length/depth of units are determined by the interests and needs of the students. Past topics include:
All About Me Photography Habitats Fairy Tales
Mapping Space Growing Things Life Cycles
Community Helpers Transportation Castles Bread Study/ Baking
Author Studies Artist Studies
Concepts and related activities pertaining to the unit of study are modified to meet the needs of different levels of learners. Relevant field trips, guest speakers, and individual or group projects are scheduled to introduce, enhance, and/or culminate a study.
The Language Arts program integrates listening/speaking, reading and writing. There is a morning meeting every day. This is an integral part of the Language program in which the children are engaged in meaningful literacy activities, such as reading or writing the morning message, updating the calendar and daily schedule, and discussing class news and ideas. Songs, poems and finger plays are also included to further support literacy development.
During the Language Arts time, children work with the teachers in small groups or one-on-one. Instruction is individualized and incorporates phonics, sight words, decoding strategies, comprehension, spelling, publishing and journal writing. In addition to direct instruction, children have the opportunity to work with materials in The Writer's Workshop to practice and refine the concepts that are being taught.
Math is integrated into everyday activities at school. For example, during the Morning Meeting, students use math in updating the daily calendar, counting the days in school while using the ones, tens and hundreds concept, and graphing the weather.
Mathematics is also taught daily in teacher-directed small group lessons. A strong foundation in math is important for continued confidence and success as a student progresses to higher levels. The Singapore Math series is utilized, in combination with other resources. Math related materials are available in learning centers to explore and further develop understanding. Topics explored include:
Number Sense (counting, place value, addition, subtraction)
Geometry (shapes, symmetry)
Measurement / Volume (using standard and non-standard units)
Patterning (copying, repeating, extending patterns)
Probability (identifying the likelihood of outcomes)
Working with Data (sorting, classifying, graphing)
Time (identify clock times, develop a sense of time)
Money (identify coins & bills, use equivalent terms)
Estimation and Comparison (of various math concepts)
The Practical Life shelf has activities that include many of the tasks that children see as part of the daily routine in their home, using things normally found in the home. These tasks help children develop muscular coordination and develop their fine-motor control and concentration skills. Children can build cognitive skills while exploring things familiar in their everyday life.