The early years from age three to age six are a magical time for young children. The young brain is growing and developing at an unparalleled rate, and physical, cognitive and social skills are growing by leaps and bounds. Helping children to develop and channel their natural curiosity and love of learning is a primary focus of the Early Childhood Program at CAPCS. The caring, supportive atmosphere that we foster makes school appealing to both students and parents and provides a stable environment for our students’ growth.
Our Early Childhood Program serves 3-, 4-, and 5-year old children in Prekindergarten 3, Prekindergarten 4, and Kindergarten. A teacher and a teacher's assistant who are trained in early childhood development and experienced in working with young children serve each class. While each campus has a particular curricular focus, our goal is to bring out and develop each child's individual talents and skills, to encourage independence and decision-making skills, and to lay a solid foundation for their school years. We guide children as they become more socially competent through interaction with their peers, helping them to master skills such as cooperation, sharing, taking turns, and conflict resolution. We believe a quality child development program is tailored toward skills and activities that are appropriate to the child's age and stage of development, and allows children more individual choice in how to use their time. This carries over in everything from the way the classroom is set up, to the books and materials used by the children, to the enrichment activities we plan. Academic attention is given to literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, and the arts.
Our curriculum is organized around the Core Knowledge Preschool Sequence, which is aligned with Learning Standards for Students Entering Kindergarten in the District of Columbia and the DC Public School content standards. Some of the subjects covered are Early Literacy Development, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical Education, Foreign Language (Spanish), and Technology. We use the Responsive Classroom social curriculum model to address children's social and emotional needs.
Because we value the diversity in our families and community, classroom teachers work closely with the Special Education service providers who work with our students. Our English Language Learners spend time with their ESOL teachers both in class (inclusion) and in small groups (pull out).
Our participation in the Wolf Trap Residency Program brings area performing artists into the classroom to work with students and teachers as they explore music, dance, drama, puppetry and poetry. Whether it's beating out the syllables of a child's name on a drum, dramatizing a story to improve comprehension, or recognizing the beginning, middle, and end of a story, the links between the arts and emergent literacy and numeracy are numerous. This program, sponsored by the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, culminates in a trip to the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center to participate in a performance designed especially for early learners.
The theory underlying our early childhood program is developmental in nature. We recognize that children go through sequential stages of development in different skill areas. There are several points central to this theory:
Play is the work of childhood. Play is the place where children learn to master their environment. In these early years, play is the most important activity in the lives of children. Sometimes it seems more important than eating or sleeping. Sometimes play is fun; sometimes play is trying hard to do something right. Play is the work, the occupation, of childhood. For this reason, our state-of-the-art environments are equipped with developmentally appropriate furnishings and classroom materials. We give children time to explore, to manipulate, to investigate, and to try out their ideas. We also take advantage of our local surroundings, encouraging children to explore the beauty and wonder of nature and the living things around them.
To keep current on developments and trends in early childhood education, we have an active professional development plan for all teaching staff. In addition to regularly scheduled training sessions, there are opportunities for study at national conferences, local universities, and regional seminars.
We view parents as partners in the education of children, particularly in these early years. We maintain close contact with parents and encourage them to use the services provided by our Parent Coordinators, such as parenting workshops, home visits, social service referrals, etc.
We know that our early childhood program is having the desired effect by the progress our students demonstrate. Clear evidence can be seen as the children move into elementary school. Exemplary teaching and learning in the pre-primary grades has a lasting effect. We appreciate the faith you have placed in us by giving us your most precious possession – your child – to care for and educate.
Amos 1 The CAPCS flagship Amos 1 campus focuses on the humanities. The visual and performing arts, music, and literature are presented in an age appropriate manner to our youngest students. They respond to these experiences through reading, writing, performing and speaking in order to internalize their learning.
Amos 2 Amos 2 is a Reggio Emilia-inspired campus. The Reggio Emilia approach is wonderfully grounded in the Responsive Classroom social curriculum model and facilitates the ability for children to explore, extend, and enhance learning through increased opportunities for self-expression and student-driven projects of interest. We focus on the following key concepts of the Reggio Emilia approach: Materials, Documentation, Environment and the role of Teacher as Researcher / Collaborator and Family Involvement. Within this framework, there is a very strong emphasis on inquiry – asking specific questions to boost cognitive processes, wonderment, thought, problem-solving skills, and the desire to delve deeper into particular areas of student interest, while simultaneously accessing the academic and social standards.
Amos 3 This campus has a science and technology focus. Students explore natural science through hands-on experiences with the world around them. Kindergartners at this campus use the AWARD Reading Program, which is a Balanced Literacy Program that integrates interactive technology and print to accelerate reading.
Butler This campus has a global education focus. Students learn about languages, cultures and customs of countries around the world, and have opportunities for hands-on activities with artifacts from these countries.