Goals & Objectives
The faculty and staff of Our Lady of Grace Preschool and Kindergarten are committed to the education of the whole child -- spiritually, emotionally, academically and physically. In keeping with this commitment, we strive to provide quality care and learning opportunities for the children in an atmosphere where sound spiritual and moral values are evident. We aim to have the children develop self-confidence and feel comfortable, as they make the transition from home to school. We make every effort in providing a nurturing, flexible and calm atmosphere where physical affection is freely given, self-concept is enhanced, independence is encouraged, and expectations are made clear to lead the children to acquire good social skills and build foundations of respect towards others.
The curriculum of Our Lady of Grace Preschool and Kindergarten School is aligned with state standards to create a developmentally appropriate environment that empowers children to be creative, inquisitive, critical thinkers and lifelong learners.
Our Curriculum Components are: Spiritual Development, Personal Development, Cognition, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Health and Development, Language and Literacy, Creative Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
The spiritual development of the child is of prime importance. At Our Lady of Grace, emphasis is placed upon the fact that the child is a creature of God, created in the image and likeness of God, with a soul and body destined for eternal happiness with Him.
In striving for a closer relationship with God, we teach each child the following:
- How to make the Sign of the Cross
- Basic prayers
- Basic tenets of the Catholic Faith
Religious readiness involves the development of self-image in relationship to a loving God. Aside from the examples set by the family and the spiritual life of the school community, we also prepare children in:
- Following individual and group recitations of prayers
- Reading and understanding religious stories
- Singing of hymns
- Periodic visitations to the chapel
Highlights of our liturgical experience include the May Crowning, School-Family Masses at a local parish, the Thanksgiving Food Drive for the needy, the Adopt-a-Family program at Christmas, a recreation of the Nativity story at our annual Preschool and Kindergarten Christmas program, and the Palm Sunday Family Dinner.
The personal development aspect of our curriculum focuses on the development of the child’s self-concept and works to enhance the child’s self-esteem.
Personal development is all about how children understand themselves and what they can do; in other words, it involves self-help skills such as toileting and personal hygiene, feeding themselves, and of course, dressing themselves.
Another important quality of personal development is self-esteem. We strive on fostering self-esteem in the school environment by focusing on the following areas:
- Teaching each child his or her name, birth date, address, and telephone number
- Teaching each child individual characteristics of self
- Recognizing each child’s accomplishments
- Teaching each child to deal with stress
- Being sympathetic to each child’s feelings
- Encouraging each child to talk
- Providing opportunities for further development
Beginning in our Pre-K program, our teachers cover the basics for learning numbers, letters, vocabulary, and speech -- skills that children will need to read in elementary school and be successful in later school years.
Our play-based curriculum provides children with opportunities for structured and free play. Play promotes healthy brain development and helps children build confidence, begin to solve problems on their own, and work with others.
We stimulate cognitive development by:
- Using everyday routines to engage in pretend-play
- Encouraging exploration
- Stimulating critical thinking
- Promoting problem-solving
- Sorting and categorizing by attributes
- Supporting children to finish things they start
Social & Emotional Development
Social and emotional development takes place during a child’s early years. As children experience mood swings, temper tantrums, and rebellion, they must learn more about their emotions as well as those of other people’s.
Emotional and behavioral regulation is the key for children to manage their emotions and reactions to different situations in order to comply with social norms.
At Our Lady of Grace, we talk to children about feelings, and teach them how to model appropriate social behaviors. Self-control is a key concept in our discipline. We teach each child the importance of words, actions, and feelings and how they can affect others.
We encourage the children to learn to do things on their own. We feel that doing so will help them develop self-confidence, so that he or she can accept school responsibilities, can adjust easily to new situations, and can deal adequately with conflicts. We stress the importance of each child organizing and caring for personal property as well. We want each child to play and work well with others and to respect the rights and feelings of others.
Physical Health & Development
From putting pieces together in a puzzle, scribbling on a piece of paper and balancing in one foot or two, to running around in the playground, children demonstrate the development of their motor skills and how well they are using these skills to interact with the world around them.
At Our Lady of Grace, we believe that children need to be fit for the same reasons that adults do: to improve their health and make sure that their bodies can do what they need them to do. We also encourage the children to develop healthy habits by eating well-balanced meals and making sure that they get enough rest.
Our program provides materials, equipment, and opportunities for children to develop through both indoor and outdoor activities. The program focuses on both structured and unstructured activities to:
- Develop large and small motor skills
- Build coordination
- Improve children’s self-confidence
- Improve children’s ability to connect with others
- Promote understanding of teamwork
- Build respect for peers
Our newly-built gym gives children the opportunity to engage in regular exercise, build strong muscles and bones, and develop important motor skills. Through our Fun Fitness and Dance Program, the children also learn to move while music is playing in a developmentally-appropriate, diverse and enjoyable way.
Language & Literacy
Our curriculum includes daily opportunities for children to listen to stories, retell them, and recite simple rhymes. Also, through our Parent Volunteer Reading Program, parents, grandparents and other family members are encouraged to visit Our Lady of Grace and read a book to their child’s class. This promotes both literacy and family engagement.
During Circle Time, children are encouraged to ask questions, share ideas, and make predictions on a story’s plot. By reading stories, children learn to recognize print and express oral language.
Our school promotes language and literacy in other ways, such as:
- By showing interest on what children talk about
- Asking children open-ended questions
- Asking children to tell stories of the day’s events
Furthermore, each child is taught to create scribble stories, basing them on stories and pictures presented or on their own experiences.
In time, each child is also introduced to printing capital and small letters, and to printing his or her own name.
Highlights of our Language and Literacy experience include Italian language lessons for children aged four years and up, and scheduled visits by the Ferguson Library Bookmobile.
Development of Reading Readiness Skills
This area is most important in the child’s intellectual development. Reading readiness includes the following aspects:
- Letter Recognition: The child is introduced to the naming of upper and lower case letters as well as the matching of upper and lower case letters.
- Auditory Perception: The child is introduced to rhyming words, working with the same initial consonants, association of consonant sounds with letters representing those sounds, and discrimination of pairs of like and different words. Phonic skills are emphasized.
- Visual Perception: The child is introduced to the process of discriminating colors, shapes, pictures, letters, and words.
- Directionality: The child is introduced to left and right in relation to his or her own body and is directed to work from left to right in progression.
- Word Meaning: The child is introduced to the naming of familiar objects and to the placing of pictures into classifications, while he or she increases his or her vocabulary through listening and using spoken context as clues for missing words.
- Comprehension: The child is taught to follow oral directions, to listen to a story well, so that he or she can get the main idea of the story, recall its details, and retell the story in sequence.
- Verbal Expression: The child is instructed to interpret pictures, to speak in complete sentences, and to dictate simple stories.
In each of the above aspects, the teacher stresses drill work and repetition of reading exercises. The teacher will also give the child individual help in those aspects when he or she shows some weakness.
The goal of the Creative Arts portion of our curriculum is to develop and nurture each child’s natural urge to create and to integrate his or her artistic development with other aspects of life.
Children are given the opportunity to explore and learn new techniques through the following areas:
- Building with clay
- Creating collages
- Color recognition and mixing
- Modeling and assembling
- Making paper sculptures
- Making prints
- Making puppets
- Story illustration
Our program incorporates Music and Movement, and Drama. Our Music program employs the simplest amounts of materials needed to embody a musical concept. The program consists of songs, singing rhymes and games, rhythms through hand clapping and instrumental play, and ear training and introduction to listening skills. Our Drama program goes hand-to-hand with our Music program and prepares children to use their imagination and to communicate with or without words.
Our mathematics curriculum consists of a sequence of skills taught at all grade levels. In teaching these skills, a spiral learning approach is used. This means that the children master a skill at a basic level as they progress through the grades. As they do so, they have experiences with a variety of materials and approaches.
At Our Lady of Grace, we strive to instill in children an understanding of and insights into the patterns of mathematics through the use of concrete materials. The program is designed to enable young children to understand and deal flexibly with mathematical ideals and concepts, such us numbers and how to use them, counting, patterns, measuring, and shapes.
To better understand mathematical concepts, the children are encouraged to count things, cook together, and determine the size and shape of everyday items, as well as sort, match, compare, and position different materials.
The focus of our science curriculum is on understanding the world around us, including living things, the earth and space, and energy.
The physical sciences segment of our curriculum deals with material objects and encompasses the following:
- Introducing objects and their properties
- Introducing the concept of material
- Experimenting with material objects
Our units on organisms and the life sciences cover the following:
- Observing particular plants and animals
- Describing a series of events in a sequence
As an introduction to these units in science, the children learn through discovery and exploration to use the word “object” to refer to a piece of matter. The properties of objects are emphasized rather than their functions: reference is made to the color, shape, texture, and other characteristics of the object.
The children will also learn that plants and animals are living things, or organisms that need air, light, water and nutrients to survive, and that there is a distinct sequence -- or a life cycle -- that all organisms experience.
Our Social Studies curriculum allows children to understand the world and appreciate their relationships in it. It promotes themes of family, school and community. Our curriculum exposes children to their first community outside the home.
Social Studies learning begins as children make friends and participate in decision-making in the classroom -- and it extends to the school, the neighborhood, and around the world.
Highlights of our Social Studies curriculum include:
- Taking walks around the neighborhood
- Inviting local community helpers to visit the school and share their work experiences with the children
- Learning about important people and holidays
- Learning about places we come from or visit
- Learning about our country and patriotic symbols