Care-A-Lot is pleased to offer Universal Pre-K! We collaborate with local school districts to offer UPK in our buildings, with the convenience of optional wrap care before and after school! Our UPK classrooms follow all NYSED and district guidelines, provide breakfast and lunch to students, and are fueled by play-based learning that meets NYS Preschool Learning Standards!
The UPK teacher must hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field, and hold NYS Teaching Certification as approved by NYS OCFS and NYSED. The task of the teacher is to continually assess what the children are learning and extend their understanding through enriched activities and experiments. Children are provided with a visual schedule as well as adaptive seating to help maximize participation. The ‘Ages and Stages’ Developmental Screening Tool and Questionnaire is completed in the Fall and Spring to determine each child’s developmental strengths and needs, and assist the teacher in curriculum planning. Teacher will also compile and maintain an educational portfolio on each child, consisting of examples of daily work, photos, and anecdotal observations. You will be given an opportunity to discuss your child’s progress at a parent-teacher conference following each assessment period.
The UPK program follows the school district’s calendar for school breaks and holidays. The school day times vary from district to district. The preschool morning is spent primarily in the academic and play-based learning centers. Each center contains a variety of educational materials that are changed daily or weekly to reflect the current curriculum and maintain children’s interests. During this time teachers are involved in facilitating and extending the children’s participation in activities of their own choosing that meet NYS Preschool Learning Standards. This type of teacher facilitated, child-initiated, play helps the child develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Children participate in morning meeting, learning centers, and small and large group learning activities. Children enjoy active movement exercises, sing group songs, learn finger plays, enjoy stories and participate in a group discussion led by the teachers. Children that are part of the Care-A-Lot UPK program also receive MusicRocks! as part of their curriculum enrichment at no additional cost to the family. Children eat lunch together family style, with a meal supplied by Care-A-Lot, and have a short rest time in the afternoon where they can read, rest or do a quiet activity.
We use the ‘Creative Curriculum’ as outlined by Teaching Strategies, Inc. with our monthly unit curriculum guide. ‘Creative Curriculum’ is supported through encouragement of the children’s ideas, questions and interests. Through this concept we use literacy-based activities, emergent curriculum, social emotional development to prepare children for kindergarten. Literacy-based activities help children develop the understanding that words can be spoken as well as heard and written as well as read, with interest in phonics and syntax naturally emerging providing “teachable moments”. Literacy concepts are also intentionally taught in small group and through learning centers. As children use language to actively explore the world around them, converting early experiences into words, emergent curriculum evolves. Emergent curriculum takes shape week by week with teachers thoughtfully redirecting plans based on the children’s interests and abilities. Teachers constantly observe and evaluate what the children are doing and learning and then arrange materials that extend the child-initiated exploration. Teachers observe interests and use this information, combined with observation and assessment, to implement lesson plans and extend the learning into all developmental skill areas. Daily time spent outdoors is a valuable learning experience for preschoolers and children will have scheduled outdoor time each day. This is the time for hands on exploration of nature, working together as a team, and development of gross motor skills.
Each classroom establishes their own behavior guidelines, with the help of the children. In this way the children understand classroom expectations and how it relates to the safety of everyone in the classroom environment. The guidelines that are established set up expectations to ensure the safety of the children, teachers and the care of the room. The teacher ensures that the expectations and limits are clear and consistent, and appropriate to the ages of the children. When needed, children will experience redirection and/or will be gently reminded of the expectation and its importance to keep everyone in our community safe. When children are able to discuss the expectations, a problem-solving dialogue should take place in which the children involved can suggest possible alternatives, with the support of the teacher.