Love Exposes Kids To Quality, Play-Based Program
“Make sure you let her know that the needle is coming through! Tell her to pull the thread,” said Love Elementary School UPK teacher, Brianna Rodriguez to two students working in the “sewing” station during center time. Rodriguez draped burlap over a table so one student can sit on one side and the other under the table taking turns passing a needle with thread and buttons through to their partner. The play-based center helps the students enhance their fine motor skills, learn to work as team and discover more about colors and shapes.
In addition to the sewing station, Rodriguez sets up different stations around the room with activities such as blocks, dramatic play where they can dress up and perform, a “washer and dryer” with a clothesline to hang the clothes, gingerbread man letter station and “wiki” sticks to create anything a child’s imagination can conceive. The UPK program for three- and four-year-olds in the district uses a curriculum called “The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool,” which is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that features exploration and discovery as a way of learning, enabling children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills. The UPK-3 classrooms provide a variety of hands on activities that address many areas of childhood development including social emotional, cognitive, physical, language, literacy, mathematics and science. Throughout the day, students engage in large group activities, small groups, center or choice time, music and movement and much more.
A UPK-3 classroom like Rodriguez’s is all about developmentally-appropriate learning to expose children to what school will be like in kindergarten and understand what the school routine is. Students also learn basic skills such as communication, numbers and alphabet. Rodriguez also works with students in small groups with Geo boards to learn shapes, letter games and cube game to discover more about the concepts of less and more.
The social and emotional part of a 3-year-old UPK classroom is important too. Children interact with same-aged peers to develop skills that will help them succeed such as: sharing, waiting and taking turns. Children also need to learn school-related behaviors to help them thrive such as: paying attention, problem solving and following directions. Research also shows that the ability to control one’s behavior, attention, and emotions is a strong predictor of early success in school.
“Teaching Pre-k has always been enjoyable for me,” said Rodriquez. “I love to see the student’s reactions and amazement when experimenting and making new discoveries. It is fun to see them develop and master a new skill and also listen to all of their stories they have to share. At this age they are so passionate about life and learning and their excitement warms my heart!”