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The learning approach at First Presbyterian Preschool is predicated on the belief that children are curious, creative, and capable. Our program philosophy is implemented through project-focused, emergent, play-based curriculum. STEAM concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) are infused in all areas of our curriculum. And the teaching methods in the classroom ensure that students acquire the skills necessary for their next school environment. The goal of our accredited program is to nurture and encourage every child’s positive self-image in an atmosphere of love and caring.

Curriculum planning

All curriculum plans are tentative, and children modify them by their response. Curriculum is always expanding. To carry out this approach, teachers engage in an ongoing process of planning, analyzing, observing, and evaluating the children’s activities, ideas, needs and interest.

Our curriculum planning is driven by three major components: project, scope and sequence, and documentation.

  • The projects are created by the children based on their expressed interests or those initiated by teacher provocation.
  • Our scope and sequence is a “road map” for the teachers to ensure the children are developing the necessary skills to move to their next level of learning.
  • Documentation is a crucial third part, allowing the children’s point of views to be expressed through anecdotal notes, and allowing parents to see the environment, activity and progress through images of not only the project, but of their child.
  • Handwriting Without Tears, Math Their Way, Everyday Mathematics and a Phonemic Awareness program is incorporated into the school day at various age levels

Drawing ideas from the Reggio Emilia approach, children spend the majority of their time at school investigating and learning about the world through many types of purposeful play: building with blocks, dressing up, painting and other artistic endeavors, experimenting with different materials, and exploring the natural world. In all these areas, emphasis is on the process rather than the product. Our calming, naturally appointed classrooms and spaces are considered the “third teacher.” Children are allowed to explore their interests and express their ideas while developing enthusiasm for learning and knowledge.

Emergent curriculum is an approach that permits learning activities to arise out of each child’s interests, actions, or serendipitous events. By observing children’s play, introducing questions, and listening for their interests, a developmentally appropriate and emergent curriculum unfolds. This rich and respectful learning environment considers children’s skills and needs and is informed every step of the way by teachers’ observations of the children as they engage and learn.

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts (creativity), and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. These subject areas are part of our daily life, so it makes sense that children should explore these subjects in an integrated way every day through books, discussions, experiments, art projects, educational games, and more. We introduce children to new skills and concepts when they are developmentally ready, making learning fun and natural. The STEAM model values the learning process as much as the results.

The First Presbyterian science lab is filled with an abundance of interesting and educational materials that support our curriculum. It’s an oasis in midtown Atlanta where our students love to visit and care for the turtles, fish, tarantula, and many other living creatures. The gardening program is also a wonderful support to further the knowledge of how things grow, classification of plants, and how to care for our environment. Our dedicated science and environmental teacher visits all classes each week and conducts lessons and experiments with the children covering all aspects of science and nature..

The art education program supports learning in every area of our play based, Reggio inspired curriculum. From our earliest age groups, children have a weekly opportunity to work with our Atelierista (Art Educator) and to experiment with various art mediums, creating sculptures, drawings, paintings, collages and portfolios. Our art studio provides children with a dedicated resource to explore art expression in a focused and creative environment. The onsite kiln allows the children to regularly explore and work with clay, creating beautiful works of art.

Our teachers participate in professional development at the High Museum in support of our art program. The children enjoy the walking field trips to view exhibits and further develop their appreciation of art and culture.

Every class attends a special music period once each week with our music teacher. Lessons focus on sound, rhythm, melody, and harmony and encourage children to create, share, and observe musical ideas in a small group of peers while playing percussion instruments and learning songs (Christian and secular). Songs and music stimulate the children to be more creative, to express themselves, and to develop an awareness of spatial concepts. The Alliance Theatre affords the children a cultural experience that sparks their creative thinking. The performances they attend advance their artistic development and expand the consciousness of the young audiences.

The Chapel experience is a fundamental and distinctive part of First Presbyterian Preschool. Once a month, children in our older twos, threes, pre-k & kindergarten classes participate in chapel. Parents and friends are always welcome to attend. Classroom teachers stay and participate with their students and use songs learned from chapel in their classrooms. Children hear Bible stories, sing songs about God, participate in discussions and dramatizations, learn Bible verses, and pray. Some of the overriding themes of the chapel curriculum are God’s unconditional love for each of us, communication with God through prayer, and the belief that Jesus is God’s son. In the fall, Old Testament stories predominate. Advent season is a time of great celebration that culminates in Christmas Chapel. In the spring, New Testament stories and the teachings of Jesus are emphasized.