Daily Schedule: The daily schedule in each laboratory may vary depending on the topic of study, activities planned (field trips, guest speakers, etc.) and preference of the laboratory head teacher. However, each day will generally have the following components: large group class meeting/opening activities, small and large group work, discovery experiences/centers, literacy, math, and outdoor time.
Depending upon the well-prepared objectives of the learning plan, daily schedules are flexible – so that truly the teachers and children run the schedule rather than the schedule running the teachers and children. Sometimes unplanned opportunities present themselves during the teaching day that cannot be passed up (an exhibit at the Wilkinson Center, large excavation machines, or a hail storm, etc.). In these cases, previously-planned schedules will change to accommodate the spontaneous learning opportunity. Daily schedules and learning plans with specific curriculum goals and assessment strategies are posted weekly in each observation booth.
Vision in Curriculum Planning: Activities are considered to be developmentally appropriate when they are planned with the children's interests, needs and developmental capacities in mind. We integrate our curriculum to address the whole child, thus focusing daily on the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student. Each day will generally have the following components: large group class meeting/opening activities, small and large group work, discovery experiences/centers, literacy, math, and outdoor time.(Bredekamp, S. & Copple, C. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs: Revised edition. National Association for the Education of Young Children: Washington D.C.)
Project Work: The laboratory's curriculum is implemented through project work. Topics of study are planned to relate to and build on previously gained skills or concepts. Project topics are planned to be age appropriate, specific, and based on ideas relevant to the children's world. The duration of the study of a topic is flexible - some projects may last a week, while others will continue through the term.
Large Group Class Meeting/ Opening Activities: Opening activities each day involve the children in a variety of activities including singing songs, charting a calendar, observing the daily weather, sharing experiences, problem solving, talking about class work, and other math and literacy activities that help build cognitive and social skills.
Small group and Large Group Work: Large group sessions introduce the project and stimulate the children’s interest in the topic. Large and small group work provides an opportunity for investigation, discovery, and developing skills. Small group work is intended to be hands-on experiences that are largely teacher-planned, but child-directed and based on the topic of study. Group work increases cooperative and collaborative skills and provides opportunities for language acquisition. These group sessions involve child participation and give the children an opportunity to express their ideas.
Discovery Experiences/Centers: Discovery experiences allow children free choice between multiple centers - science, music, blocks, manipulatives, math, computers, reading, writing, dramatic play, and art centers. Each center allows for the integration of multiple curriculum areas to assess academic, social, and physical abilities of each child. It is a time for children to learn social skills, make choices, be responsible for the materials they play with, and develop new concepts and skills.
Literacy: Children develop reading and writing skills best in a literacy-rich environment. The classroom is set up to allow opportunities for children to use language, reading, writing, and comprehension skills in all their activities. This is accomplished through labeling, alphabet walls, environmental print, shared reading and writing experiences, independent reading and writing experiences, and teacher read-alouds. The children have the opportunity to write in a journal, make their own readers, and many other applicable activities that build a strong literacy foundation.
Math: Math skills are fostered primarily through hands-on applicable experiences during discovery time and project work activities. The children are involved in surveys, graphing, constructing, building, observation, measurement, money activities, sorting, and data collecting to build number sense and problem solving strategies. The children are encouraged to share their strategies and findings with their peers. This is a time for children to explore the world around them and build their cognitive and fine motor skills.
Teachers in the Lab: The kindergarten often serves as a hands-on training class for student teachers in our Early Childhood Education major. We are also staffed with 3 hired aides to help maintain a low teacher-student ratio of 1:5. This provides great dividends to both the children and the parents for more one-on-one time with each child. We are better able to identify and meet specific goals for each child. The head teacher remains a constant teacher throughout the year and serves to bridge the gap between the old and new teachers, thus allowing for a smooth transition for the children.
Assessment: Assessment is the process of observing, recording and documenting what children do to serve as a guide for curriculum development and communicating with parents their child’s progress in the specific curriculum areas. The Utah State Core Curriculum for Kindergarten serves as the guide to these assessment tools. Daily notes are taken on the children and work samples collected to be compiled into portfolios. This type of assessment assists them in becoming aware of each individual child's needs.
Parent Input: Each year begins with academic, social, and physical goals provided by the parents that we can focus on for the academic school year. These curriculum goals are valuable in the development of the curriculum and the individualization of the lesson plans. These goals go hand-in-hand with assessments that are done the first week of school and throughout the school year.
Field Trips: The children are involved in several field trips on and off campus. Parents are notified prior to any field trips. Any field trip off campus requires a permission slip signed by a parent before the child will be allowed to go.