Early Childhood Program: Pre-K
Educators provide a rich learning environment for the children in the Pre-K program including many sensory experiences, hands-on activities, language immersion opportunities, and Kindergarten readiness integration. Children construct their own learning and knowledge from the endless opportunities and the guidance provided by the educators. This special learning environment is a product of our philosophy of the image of each child as competent, capable, and curious.
Educators also provide children with integrated opportunities to practice learned Jewish ethics and values each day through lessons on the Jewish holidays, books, games, rituals, and customs. Pre-K educators also meet each year with Austin Independent School District (AISD) Kindergarten educators and Austin Jewish Academy (AJA) Kindergarten educators to discuss student expectations and recent educational developments.
Schedules for each Pre-K class include both large and small group times as well as times for individual choice in centers and on the playground. Children learn to follow directions and transition between activities. These transition times are turned into learning opportunities when educators count in English and other languages, teach about opposites, colors, self-awareness, and much more.
Children in the Pre-K program also participate annually in the Austin Jewish Academy's Science Fair. Educators work with the children to develop and create a class science experiment and presentation using the Scientific Method. Parents and children are then invited to the actual AJA Science Fair.In support of this program, our educators provide the following for the children:
• A print-rich environment to promote both reading and writing;
• Writing tools, paper of all types, and places and opportunities to create and write. Examples include but are not limited to journals, cards, name tags, documentation of children's thoughts, letter of the week bags, "what if..." prompts, and self-developed stories;
• A variety of stories and texts and associated meaningful discussions;
• Phonological awareness by singing songs, reciting chants, making up rhymes, and learning finger plays;
• Advancement in both small and large motor skills by involving children in the creation of routines, activities, and experiences that build hand-eye coordination, visual perception, auditory perception, and auditory discrimination; and
• Science experiments and discovery using the Scientific Method, as well as cooking projects, and exploration of nature;
• Math experiences and discovery including counting, geometry, grids and coordinates, patterns, and sequencing.
Examples of these types of activities and manipulatives included in classroom centers are grid games, sorting objects, use of a white board or chalk board, magnetic letters and objects, stamps, shaving cream, clay, markers and crayons, puzzles, lotto games, "letter soup," Bingo, matching and regular cards, dice games, estimation jars, sequencing pictures and stories, patterns, "100 days of school" projects, calendar-related activities, nature-related elements, etc.
Developmental Goals for 4 and 5 Year Olds
• Knows and verbalizes personal information (first name, last name, parent's first and last names, address, and phone number)
• Associates use with common objects (money, food, appliances), groups items by a particular characteristic
• Recognizes letters and their corresponding sounds and recognizes, spells, and writes full name
• Speaks in grammatically correct sentences most of the time and uses complex sentences to express thoughts, feelings, and to answer questions
• Understands past, present, and future
• Asks for help when needed, negotiates solutions verbally to resolve conflicts, enjoys engaging with other children, and is able to both lead and follow the group
• Expresses needs and preferences clearly and appropriately, shows interest in and actively participates in various classroom activities (independently and in groups)
• Demonstrates opposites and their meanings, recites parts of songs, rhymes, stories, and finger play games
• Enjoys books and is also able to retell familiar stories
• Recognizes and selects healthy foods
• Becomes aware of investigative processes using scientific methods
• Sorts and compares objects by size, length, weight, area, and temperature and begins to identify the position of objects in a series
• Kindergarten readiness skills