A Closer Look at Preschool

By Beth Hudson, Lower School Assistant Director

USJ has a developmentally appropriate preschool where children learn through watching, listening, and exploring in their environment. That environment is rich in hands-on, engaging, and meaningful activities.

Our children learn how to ask and answer questions as they learn more about the familiar and the unfamiliar topics through science and social studies units. Our curriculum in both literacy and in math helps to expose students to more reading, writing, and hands-on math in a fun and non-threatening way. This, in turn, helps to create that desire to learn more.

The Wright Group’s series Focus on Pre-phonics and Sadlier-Oxford’s Emergent Reading Library is used in the literacy program. The children are taught pre-reading skills through phonics, phonemic awareness, and print awareness. Multi-level skills are taught in whole groups by using morning messages, big books, and charts. Individual needs are met in small groups and one-on-one with the teachers and teaching assistants. The children are also learning how to write in personal journals through pictures and inventive spelling.

Wright Group’s Growing with Mathematics is our source for math. It has been researched and recognized by the National Council of Teachers of Math Principles and Standards, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. The lessons are designed to develop number sense and computational fluency as students explore a range of strategies for problem solving. The program is carefully sequenced using a developmental approach accompanied by a wide range of hands-on learning experiences.

Concepts are introduced in a large group setting through calendar activities, direct lessons, and everyday routines. Many of those activities include counting, sorting, graphing, and learning about patterns. Small groups, learning centers, and one-on-one instruction help each individual student to practice and improve his/her mathematical skills.

The teachers are able to skillfully weave in academic goals and objectives as they build on what the children can do, as well as challenge them to try new things. The children are encouraged to contribute their own ideas, use their problem-solving strategies, and pursue their own interests. The way our students learn may look like play, but it is play with a purpose. Thank you, ASG, for funding these new materials.

(Note: A child does not need to be potty-trained to enroll in our Jr. Cubs program for two year olds. The child must be potty-trained to enroll in our Cubs program, which is for children who are three years old by September 30 of that year.)