Positive educational experiences at preschool and loving relationships at home provide a strong foundation for academic success. Academic goals and objectives for The Teddy Bear Club are guided by the Early Childhood Program Standards and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks coupled with our own developmental beliefs. Teachers continually observe children and design lessons that both support and extend learning experiences in a safe and secure environment. In addition, our children are encouraged to explore materials at their own levels of interest and development.
The primary objective of our academic program is to capture the child’s natural curiosity and to develop his/her potential as a lifelong learner. Children explore their world through active play, use of manipulatives, strong academic programs, and nurturing guidance. Thematic units are developed and supported through meaningful learning experiences coupled with experiential activities. Opportunities for creative expression and didactic learning experiences are provided in the following areas of the curriculum:
The reading program selected by The Teddy Bear Club includes a research-based, multi-sensory, language approach. Oral kinesthetic (mouth movement) cues, imagery, and mnemonics (memory tricks) from the Telian-Cas Lively Letters Program are used to foster phonemic awareness, as well as reading and spelling skills in a structured format. Letters and sounds are introduced using colorful picture cards, imaginative stories, character letter songs and coloring activity pages. Reading readiness games and activities are designed by our teaching staff to reinforce concepts presented. Emergent reader series are enjoyed in both big book and individual book formats. In addition, children listen to carefully selected stories representing various literary genres. Our extensive collection of books, both in the classrooms and in our French/English library, enables children and teachers to select reading materials that meet learning objectives while facilitating individual preferences. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers create an atmosphere that empowers children and encourages confident, lifelong reading.
Written language skill development begins in our Petit Jardin! Children develop strong foundation skills through experiencing the Handwriting Without Tears Get Set for School curriculum. Multi-sensory teaching tools and techniques in this program are planned to appeal to all learning styles critical to the skill of writing. Large wooden letter sets, Roll-A-Dough Letters, slate chalkboards, sing along recordings and Stamp-and-See screens enable children to vary activities using written symbols. Teachers assist children as they progress from simple hand/eye coordination activities including putting pegs in holes or elastics on Geo-boards, to more complex fine motor control such as drawing circles and lines. As the children progress through the Jardins, they are introduced to letter formation when they begin to write their names, label drawings and recognize the conventions of written language such as leaving spaces between words and using correct punctuation marks.
Communication skills are addressed by providing speaking, listening and performance opportunities throughout the program. Spontaneous conversations and self-expression enable children to communicate their needs and become more self-sufficient. Children use Circle Time to share relevant experiences and practice active listening skills. Teachers plan activities that expose the children to public speaking, improvisation and story interpretation. Weekly dramatic sessions and the spring performances contribute to awaken the children’s innate sense of creativity while encouraging self-expression and the development of self-confidence.
A numerically powerful child develops meaning and looks for relationships among numbers and operations. Our teachers use many Montessori-based manipulatives as well as carefully chosen games, activities and literature when teaching children to reason, calculate, estimate and problem solve. They begin by being introduced to concrete mathematical materials that allow a progression from concrete to abstract concepts through play and experimentation. Problem-solving skills are continually being promoted and reinforced.
Children in our youngest class, Le Petit Jardin, begin to learn the names of numbers and establish one-to-one correspondence. They can also recognize shapes and reproduce simple patterns and designs.
As children progress though the Jardins, they explore the following curricular areas: Number Sense and Operations; Patterns, Relations and Algebra; Geometry; Measurement; Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability. Practical application of skills is embedded into hands-on projects, real life situations and songs. Math literature is selected to introduce, support and/or reinforce concepts taught.
Science is all about exploration and discovery. Our hands-on investigations and experiments take us to the fields of Earth and Space Science, Life Science, Physical Science, Technology/Engineering as well as Health, Hygiene and Nutrition. As with all of our activities, a science activity can be sensorial, manipulative, promote math and language skills, and help the child experience the wonder of discovery! Some of our science projects include observing and recording the weather changes; learning about the characteristics of living things, how they grow, reproduce and need food, air, and water; exploring simple laws of physics while experimenting with simple machines; learning about the human body; or simply finding and studying objects collected during our nature walks.
Environmental awareness is not only an integral part of the science curriculum but also a Teddy Bear Club core value. Our goal is to help our young students understand and respect all living things in our world. By targeting various elements of nature through monthly themes, and by exposing the children to appropriate and specific environmental problems and possible solutions, we encourage them to develop a sense of responsibility and involvement in their community and their planet.
Children are natural-born explorers! Following the steps of Magellan, armed with world maps, compasses and a lot of imagination, children move from understanding the concept of self to the concept of other. They begin to learn about their family, their community, their state, their country and their world.
The children of the Grand Jardin and the Jardin Maternel travel around the world and discover the wonders that our beautiful planet Earth has to offer. The children learn to use a globe, locate the continents and identify many countries and their flags. But more importantly, they become acquainted with other cultures, their traditions and languages. They acquire an awareness of the large multicultural world in which we live through stories, songs, artifacts and visitor presentations.
Diversity is celebrated at The Teddy Bear Club in numerous ways. Children hail from local as well as international origins. Parents are encouraged to join their children in presenting special cultural traditions, foods and paraphernalia from their native countries. Celebrations of holidays from around the world enable all the children to recognize our diverse backgrounds.
Studies have shown that exposing young children to a foreign language increases the likelihood that they will become proficient in that language and have native-like pronunciation. As a result of early foreign language learning, in addition to developing a life-long ability to communicate with more people, children may derive other benefits including improved overall school performance and superior problem-solving skills. Language learners of any age typically understand a foreign language before being able to speak it. This is very true of The Teddy Bear Club children. They learn French without even trying! After just a few sessions, the children are able to understand much of what they hear in French with very little effort. Next, they will begin to produce one- or two-word utterances. We often see by the end of the year that the children are able to form short phrases on their own, sometimes plugging French words into more complicated structures in their first language.
French is introduced to our young students through interactive “French Lessons.” Both French and English are a part of our daily routines at The Teddy Bear Club. Weekly targeted vocabulary words are introduced in interactive lessons through rhymes, props, French books, and group games. Emphasis is placed on auditory comprehension and oral expression.
Drama awakens the children’s innate sense of creativity, encourages self-expression and develops self-confidence. Starting in the Petit Jardin, our teachers design activities to expose the children to public speaking, improvisation and story interpretation. Each month, a special story is selected which highlights a theme or special event. We begin by reading the story a few times until the children are familiar with the plot. Gradually children are encouraged to participate by acting out parts of the story incorporating the use of props, dialogue, music and dance.
During the last term of school, The Teddy Bear Club drama program focuses on each Jardin planning, rehearsing and presenting special performances for their classmates, teachers, parents and family members.
Art is an integral part of The Teddy Bear Club curriculum. Most projects are designed to promote each child’s own creativity through discovery of art materials. While some art activities are teacher-directed, others are child-initiated. This might explain why your child proudly comes home with a blank piece of construction paper lined with dried glue. Although your child might not have glued anything on the paper, s/he may have spent fifteen minutes hard at work and, in the process, discovered how to put the cap back on the glue stick! This, in itself, is an accomplishment. Our primary objective is to encourage self-expression through process art rather than product art.
Music is a language and the body is the first true instrument! We believe children need opportunities to make music spontaneously and informally in addition to scheduled “music times.” Our goal at the Teddy Bear Club is to enhance the natural appreciation that children have for music. We encourage children to use music not only for entertainment and relaxation, but also to assist with routines and to signal transitions. Throughout the year, children will listen to and imitate a variety of sounds with voice, body, and/or musical instruments. Fingerplays facilitate the pairing of words with actions. Children will learn a variety of melodies and rhythmic beats to form musical patterns, imitate sounds and learn new vocabulary through song and instrumentation. Children are invited to share favorite songs with their classmates and proudly teach others about their interests. Specific lessons are designed to include familiarity with musical instruments and their sounds as they relate to classical, folk and jazz themes.
Various types of dance, yoga, obstacle courses and parachute activities provide fun and creative ways for the children to enhance their motor skills. Movement activities foster the children’s development of strong muscles, coordination and spatial orientation. Many children do not realize how long their legs are when they are kicking, or what will happen when they swing their arms. Children acquire an awareness of their bodies in space as they move around a room and learn how to control their bodies.
Sensory experiences are at the core of most preschool activities. They not only provide creative fun but also help the child to develop tactile awareness and foster development of neural pathways. Whether squeezing warm, soapy sponges, pushing little rubber ducks around in the water table, playing with playdough or finger painting, children are encouraged to experience different textures, smells, tastes, and colors.
Physical activity and physical fitness at the preschool and kindergarten level provides an early foundation for wellness in later years. Outdoor play is an integral part of our daily curriculum, all year long and in all seasons. Here, children learn to explore the limits of their physical abilities, problem-solve and develop peer relationships. They develop the large muscle groups which then give needed support to the small muscles in the hands and fingers. Movement activities include work on directionality, balance and following various pathways, e.g., straight lines, curves, zigzags. In addition, use of a variety of manipulatives for throwing and catching as well as for promoting improved locomotor skills (walking, running, skipping, hopping, jumping) and non-locomotor skills (twisting, balancing, extending) are incorporated both on the playground and in our classroom curriculum.
Through Practical Life Skills and Art Activities, children learn to use their fine motor skills to pour liquids, squeeze sponges, sort objects, color and hold a pencil. Great pride is achieved when little fingers learn to button, zip, tie their shoes for the first time and write their names on a piece of paper. By extending a child’s versatility, improvement in physical performance is assured in both fine and gross motor skills.