Preschool is a time of amazing growth — physical, social-emotional, and cognitive. Every time a child asks “why”, explores a new object, interacts with others, or tries something for the first time, they are learning about the environment, people, and concepts that they’ll continue to build competence with for the rest of their life. Our teachers know and celebrate this in every aspect of our preschool programs.
We incorporate the HighScope and Reggio Emilia approaches and are guided by the California Desired Results assessment process, Learning Foundations, and Curriculum Frameworks. These approaches share some key beliefs: children are inherently competent; they learn best through meaningful experiences in a rich environment with peers and knowledgeable adults as guides and collaborators.
Our environment is a unique reflection of the children, families, staff, and school community who are part of our program. Our classrooms abound in materials that invite children to actively explore and that reflect their diverse interests and learning profiles. The areas of the room represent the learning domains that connect to later school content: language and literacy, math, science, visual and performing arts, and social science. We have environments that are safe, child accessible, and appealing to all senses.
Our consistent daily routine helps children feel safe and secure. Children quickly internalize the predictable order of the day. At Catalyst Kids they will have opportunities to self-select activities, as well as interact one-on-one with a teacher and participate in teacher guided experiences in groups.
The elements of the children’s day in our programs include:
Small Group Time
Children work daily as a member of a group of 6-8, with a teacher who has tracked their development, interests, and strengths. Hands-on activities are planned and led by the teacher using research-based school readiness curriculum resources that bridge to kindergarten standards.
Large Group / Circle Time
Being a part of a larger community is something that takes a bit of practice for young children. Our large group/circle times include get-to-know-you activities, movement, music, cooperative group games, and physical fitness activities. Through circle time children build their ability to listen, express emotions, and take turns.
We support children’s ability to make plans, carry them out, and reflect on them; a life skill that encourages critical thinking, initiative, and self-reliance within the framework of the school community. Our teachers ask children to choose something they would like to do and then engage with the children as they follow through with their ideas. They ask children questions and think with them about what is happening to help them to extend and expand their understanding and skill development. Review follows with a small group discussion of how the plans went, what they discovered, and possible next steps.
Making a connection to natural surroundings and engaging in physical activity with playful and attentive teachers happens daily in our programs. Children are explorers in this environment, as well as movers, climbers, and riders.
In our programs we surround children with learning opportunities. We develop and grow basic academic skills through child and teacher guided activities and interactions. Our literacy and math curricula are research based, developmentally sequenced, and based on skills that lead to success in school and beyond.
The Pathways to Literacy Curriculum for children 3-6 years of age is a comprehensive set of detailed plans for teacher-led small-group activities. The activities are focused, engaging, and enjoyable.
Although literacy occurs throughout the day as children talk, play, problem solve, and represent their ideas and experiences, Pathways to Literacy focuses on small-group instruction to ensure that every child receives planned and equal exposure to teaching and learning on the same literacy topics. Teachers continue to infuse literacy concepts throughout the day, both individually and in other group settings.
Transition to Kindergarten
Moving from preschool to TK/kindergarten is one of the biggest milestones for children and families. Because our programs establish partnerships with elementary school teachers, we plan events, visits, and information exchanges to make the transition as comfortable as possible. Our teachers work closely with families to identify each child’s readiness profile and offer simple at home activities that families can do with their child to support the learning and development. We believe family and school partnerships are essential to each child’s success. Family partnerships are developed through daily conversations, collaboration on center events, and a variety of parent meetings. We also conduct family surveys and interviews to learn more about individual families’ traditions, cultures, and languages.
Families are an integral part of our programs. We welcome families to come participate at our center through our open-door policy and value input and involvement that results in partnerships and continuity in the child’s home and center life.
Our programs strive to be supportive of the family, including parents who are in school, foster families, homeless families, and those working or seeking employment. We welcome all children and families into our programs. In many of our centers we provide subsidized childcare programs. To learn more and see if you are eligible, click here.