St. Joseph Catholic School

Little Knights Preschool » Curriculum

Curriculum

Children learn through all of their senses. Our curriculum utilizes weekly themes, incorporating many different, interactive approaches to reinforce the concept being introduced. The following curricular areas are included in our preschool program:
  • Religion
  • Reading Readiness
  • Language Arts
  • Math Readiness
  • Science/Discovery
  • Social Studies/Character Education
  • Music & Movement
  • Physical Education
In addition to our formal curriculum, Little Knights offers a variety of enrichment programs as part of our school day.
  • Technology/Computer Lab
  • Fine Arts
  • In-House Field Trips
  • Classroom Celebrations
Learning Centers
A typical day includes Learning Centers, where the children have structured learning activities and also have opportunities to choose their activity through open centers. There's more than "just play" going on in the Learning Centers! The children are developing math concepts, classification, language skills and perseverance. They are learning to communicate, share, respect others, problem solve, work and play in groups, follow classroom rules, express thoughts and feelings appropriately and make good choices and decisions.
 
Religion
The primary focus of our religion program is to enable preschool children to develop a sense of self-worth by teaching them that God made and loves them. As they explore their interests and abilities, they come to realize that they are special.
 
God is presented to the children as the good God who made them and the world, who loves and cares for them, and who is always with them. The focus is on praise and thanksgiving which the children easily understand. They are encouraged to pray to God during the day. We say a morning prayer each day as we gather for circle time, a prayer before snack, and we pray for ourselves and others.
 
The preschool program also helps develop a foundation for good decision making by engaging children in activities that show respect for all people and all living things, value God's world and care for it, and to appreciate God's goodness and love for them. Teachers interact with children in ways that nurture kindness and model honesty, forgiveness, respect and concern for each other.
 
Reading Readiness
Language skills are fundamental to a child's reading development. Our reading activities are designed to offer opportunities that appropriately match how preschool children think, using hands-on experiences to explore and express their thoughts and ideas. Language skills are developed through dramatizing, listening to stories, singing songs, reciting poetry and playing rhyming games.
 
Our comprehensive OWL(Opening the World of Learning) curriculum focuses on the development of Phonological Awareness, Alphabet Recognition, Print Awareness, Oral Language and Listening Comprehension. These skills emerge as children draw, dictate and share their thoughts and ideas with others.
 
The Little Knights program uses the Sunform Alphabet system ~ a system which turns letters into pictures that start with that letter sound. St. Joseph Elementary uses this same system, making the transition to Kindergarten seamless.
 
Letter sounds, formation, and recognition are explored and reinforced through art projects, manipulatives, puzzles, and matching games.

Math Readiness
Our approach to mathematics builds on a child's natural curiosity and desire to make order in the surrounding world. Our program is organized into six areas of focus: Sorting, Classification, Patterns, Number Concepts, Shapes, Measurement and Graphing.
 
Stories, poems, finger plays and pictures are used to motivate children to explore mathematical concepts such as classification, patterns and numbers. Using art and games, children focus on color, shape, size or texture to develop comparison and patterning skills. Children learn counting each day through calendar activities, number games, building blocks and manipulatives. The children measure and compare objects (tall, taller, tallest). They use graphs to record things in their classroom, helping them sort, compare and understand the concepts of "more", "fewer" and "equal".
 
Developing math concepts through hands-on materials in preschool lays the foundation for later abstract mathematical thinking.

Science/Discovery
Experiments and discovery help children experience science concepts first-hand. Discovery exercises typically revolve around each weekly theme. Some examples include...
  • Theme - Pumpkins: Children experiment with a variety of objects (including a pumpkin) to determine if they will sink or float and graph their findings.
  • Theme - Polar Bears: Children experience how a polar bear's blubber keeps them warm when they swim, by placing their hand in a bag of shortening, then plunging it into ice cold water.
  • Theme - Trees/Autumn: Children collect leaves and examine them using magnifying glasses, documenting their findings. They create leaf and tree bark rubbings.
Social Studies & Character Education
Our preschool Social Studies program focuses on developing a meaningful knowledge about people, jobs, landmarks and cultures of the surrounding community. They develop an appreciation of the similarities and differences among people and how they (and others) are important members of the community - including our their classroom community!
 
Our Character Education program teaches the students various concepts including: Cooperation, Friendship, Honesty, Thankfulness, Sharing, Patriotism and Respect. One of the most important skills children learn in preschool is the ability to deal with their emotions. Helping children learn about their feelings helps build self-confidence and develops empathy and compassion. Character Education is developed through hands-on activities. For example, when discussing kindness, the children are encouraged to express their "caring feelings" through actions - simple acts of kindness, talking together, singing and drawing. These topics are utilized to develop a sense of community within the classroom as the children learn that everyone is important and valuable.

Music & Movement
Music is an amazing tool to help children learn in a fun, exciting way! Little Knights teachers incorporate music and movement throughout each class session. Music is integrated into our lessons through books, poetry and nursery rhymes. Rhythm and large motor skills are developed through marches and dances. Music is partnered with sensory objects such as scarves and bubbles to engage all the senses.
 
Additionally, twice-monthly music classes are provided by Music-in-the-Box, a child-centered music education program. Trained Music-in-the-Box instructors use an integrated approach to introduce children to music in a multi-sensory manner.

Art & Art Appreciation
Creative art projects are used to help the children identify colors, shapes and texture, refine small motor skills and develop an aesthetic sense. Children learn to take pride in their accomplishments. ABC Art Projects are used to reinforce letter concepts in an exciting way. For example, when learning about the letter "J" the children may work on a Jingle bell painting, when working on the letter "A" they may make apple prints.
 
Physical Education
Children learn and develop through physical play. Physical activity not only builds strength and coordination, but helps build a positive self-image. The children learn that our bodies are a gift from God and therefore we need to take care of it! Outdoor playground time is common in good weather. Each class also has a weekly gym class scheduled. During this time the children play games, which explore and develop movement, balance and large motor skills. These classes take place in the school gymnasium.
 
Computer Lab/Media Center
Our 4-year old preschoolers are learning to be technically-savvy from an early age! Once a week, they head to the computer lab/media center of St. Joseph Elementary School, where the technology teacher spends time instructing them on the basics of using a computer. They learn basic mouse skills, learn how to find their way around a keyboard, and develop a strong comfort level working with various educational software programs.
 
In-House Field Trips
With our in-house field trip program, the children are exposed to new topics by the people that know them best, without ever having to leave the classroom. Past topics have included Fire Safety with a visit from the Libertyville Firefighters, an architect, Community Helpers led by a Libertyville Police Officer, a visit from a local children's author and All About Trains with a visit from Kohl Children's Museum. The kids have a great time learning about different topics from the experts in the comfort and familiarity of their own space.
 
Classroom Celebrations
We have fun at Little Knights Preschool each and every day - but some days are extra-special. With the help of parents, the children participate in many special celebrations throughout the year. Halloween Parade, Leprechaun Hunt, Pajama Day, Wacky Wednesday, Beach Party and Holiday parties are just a few examples of the fun times the kids have with their friends in school.