Parent: “What did you learn at school today?” Child: “I don’t know…” Do you feel out of the loop about what your child is learning at Spanish Schoolhouse? Wish you knew more about the curriculum? Then help is here!! Read on to learn the inside story…
Curriculum: Our Spanish Schoolhouse Preschool curriculum is developed by Texas-certified teachers to meet all the kindergarten readiness criteria in the state of Texas. The monthly curriculum is posted in the school and in each classroom in a colorful format called, “Look What I Will Learn.” Parents are welcome to stop and take a look at this, take a photo with your phone, and ask any questions. But let’s break it down here.
Themes: Each month at SSH has an overall theme. For example, December’s theme is Christmas. We then break it down into Weekly Themes, such as Christmas around the World, where different traditions are explored. Because we always incorporate the Latin culture into our learning, we also have a monthly Cultural Theme, such as “Music and Dance of Latin America.” These themes guide our learning each month.
Skills: All of the cultural learning is wonderful, but what about skills? Well, yes, we’ve got those covered, too! Each week, we focus on specific skills in the areas of fine motor, handwriting, gross motor, pre-math and science, letters of the week, Spanish vocabulary, phrases, and manners. While the Look What I Will Learn shows the same skills for all of preschool, please be aware that the skills will be introduced at the age-appropriate level for each class.
Fine motor skills develop the small muscles of the hands and fingers, eye-hand coordination and spatial relations. These skills are involved in holding, pinching, gripping, cutting, tracing, stacking, buttoning, zipping, tying, and grasping a pencil or crayon for writing, including using adequate force.
Tools and materials which are used in class to help develop these skills include molding materials, tearing paper, manipulating small objects such as beads (larger for younger students, smaller for older students), using tweezers, building 3D structures, finger painting, touching and experimenting with different textures, smells, and tastes. For example, students may use build a 3D structure using blocks with different shapes or textures, within a defined space. They are grasping the blocks, judging the available space, using eye-hand coordination to place the blocks, determining how much force (gentle vs. forceful) is needed, balancing the blocks on top of each other, and of course, in the end, deciding how to knock them down!
Gross motor skills develop strength in the arms, legs, and torso. They are the focus of our Music and Movement class, and of course are practiced at recess, as well! They can include throwing and catching, balancing, hopping, jumping, skipping, climbing, pushing, pulling, and more. These skills are developed through group games, partner games, obstacle courses, and dancing! Children also learn about rules for sports, rhythms, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Our teachers love to share childhood games that they grew up with in their countries. The Music & Movement monthly curriculum is also posted in the school for parents to see.
Math and Science concepts are introduced at a set time during the day, but are also woven throughout the day. For young children, observation, prediction, classification, counting, comparing, and discovering the world around them are all early math and science skills that encourage exploration and learning. Concepts like full/empty or first/last are discussed and repeated. During Circle Time, classes talk about the calendar. They talk about how many days are in the month, which day today is, which days came before and after, which season we are in, and what the weather is like during this season.
Letters of the Week are introduced, beginning with vowels only (letters and sounds) for the two-year old classes, and moving up to consonants, upper case and lower case recognition and writing, and early sight-words for the older students. For example, students identify classmates whose names begin with the letter, discuss things in the classroom or at home that start with the letter, and then practice writing the letter. They can write it with wooden sticks (lines and curves), or in shaving cream, sand, and, of course, on paper. The Handwriting Without Tears program ties in with the letters of the week, as well as fine motor skill development.
Manners are an important part of early childhood learning, and are strongly emphasized in a traditional Latin education. Skills such as taking turns, covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze, saying “excuse me” if you interrupt, saying “good morning” and “goodbye” when entering and leaving, and respecting our teachers and friends are introduced during Circle Time, and practiced throughout the day. We love to see our little “amigos” using good manners and being respectful!
Wow! That’s a lot to cover during a day, isn’t it? AND, it’s all in Spanish!! Young children are learning constantly through everything they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. In addition to ALL of the above, your children are learning social skills through their constant interaction with their teachers and classmates. Every moment is a teachable moment. Our task is to provide a loving and safe environment, where the students feel free to learn and explore!
We hope this has helped you gain a little insight into the life of a preschooler at Spanish Schoolhouse. We didn’t even touch on the role of our English teachers in the three and four year old classes, so we’ll save that for a future blog post! Don’t forget to look for the colorful “Look What I Will Learn” posted in your school, and check your child’s calendar for monthly vocabulary, themes and activities!