Children should experience interactions, relationships, activities, and play that would support successful learning and development in math and language and literacy. Social-emotional competencies as well as other cognitive and motivational competencies are required for success in school.
-- California Department of Education

Our mission at Nativity School is to provide a quality pre-school program that encourages children to experiment and explore in a play-based environment. Play is an integral part of our curriculum, and it is through play that our teachers lead children to acquire the skills and knowledge to succeed in Kindergarten.

The classroom is set-up daily by experienced teachers with purpose and intent in provoking learning and growth through the children’s interests and needs. We prepare the child’s environment to encourage exploration and allow experimentation. As teachers, we recognize and respect that each child is unique and learns at his or her own pace. The in-depth learning opportunities foster creativity and make learning fun, lasting, and personal.

Learning is an integrated experience--as children learn to control their impulses (Social Emotional), they also learn to express themselves verbally using correct language conventions (Language and Literacy). While they share classroom responsibilities when they put toys away (Social Emotional), they also learn how to sort, classify, and compare materials (Mathematics).

The main responsibility of a teacher is to assist the children in learning the skills described in the four foundations by:

  1. setting the environment,
  2. supporting the children’s self-initiated play
  3. engaging in instructional activities that uses play

Our goals for the preschool program align with California Preschool Learning Foundation and Common Core standards as well as the San Francisco Archdiocese standards.

Foundations of Social Emotional Development

Play is a central context for social and emotional development in early childhood.

1. Self

  • Growth of self-awareness (confidence in their abilities and comparing favorably with others)
  • Self-regulation (anticipate routines, cooperate with few reminders, can focus at tasks at hand)
  • Social and emotional understanding (better understanding of people’s thoughts and feelings as well as their own; beginning to understand differences in personality, temperament, and background and their importance)
  • Empathy and caring (more competent at responding helpfully to a distressed person)
  • Initiative in learning (self-confident learners who are actively involved in their own learning by asking questions, offering new ideas in doing things)

2. Social Interaction

  • Interactions with familiar adults (longer interactions familiar adults through longer conversations and shared activities
  • Interactions with peers (initiate and participate in more activities with peers towards a shared goal, can suggest simple conflict resolution strategies
  • Group participation
  • Cooperation and responsibility

3. Relationships

  • Friendship (more reciprocal, exclusive, enduring)
  • Attachments to parents (seek support in difficult situations, little difficulty being separated from parents when left in school
  • Close relationships with teachers and caregivers (seek support in difficult situations from teachers, initiates cooperative problem solving ideas

Young children develop social and emotional skills in ways different from how they develop letters and number skills. Socio-emotional competencies emerge through children’s experience in close relationships and the varied activities in relational experience.

Foundations in Language and Literacy

1. Listening and Speaking

  • Language use and conventions (maintain conversation for several turns, make more detailed narrative of an experience, produce narratives that convey causal or temporal sequence of events)
  • Vocabulary (attains variety and specificity of accepted words, verbal categories of words—dinosaurs vs. Tyrannosaurus; use of words that describe relations—under, above, and comparative words)
  • Grammar (learns rules of constructing sentences using phrases and clauses with adjectives and adverbs—It’s almost bedtime and I am still hungry!)

2. Reading

  • Concepts about Print (understands that print has to be read to understand the meaning)
  • Phonological Awareness (blend words and syllables without support of pictures or objects, orally blends onset and rimes
  • Alphabet and word/print recognition (recognize own name in print, match more than half of upper case names with the lower case names in printed form, understands that letters have sounds
  • Comprehension and Analysis of Age-Appropriate Text (retell and reenact familiar story, use information from text to categorize, relate compare, contrast
  • Literacy Interest and Response (takes book for independent reading, enjoys literacy-related activities)

3. Writing

  • Writing strategies (emergent writing skills, write letters or letter-like shapes to represent words or ideas, write name correctly)

Foundations in Mathematics

  1. Number Sense - recite numbers in order to twenty with increasing accuracy, recognize and know the name of some written numerals, identify without counting up to four objects, counting with one-to-one correspondence up to 10, understands cardinality, comparing two groups of up to 5 objects and communicating more, less, same, understanding that taking away one and adding one changes the number of the group by exactly one, understanding that putting two groups together will increase the number
  2. Algebra and Functions - sort and classify objects by one or more attributes
  3. Measurement - compare, order, measure objects
  4. Geometry - identify and use variety of shapes in their environment, combine different shapes to create a picture
  5. Mathematical Reasoning - solve problems that arise in their everyday environment)

Foundations in Spiritual Development

  1. Prayers - start prayers with the Sign of the Cross, and recite prayer before meals; familiar with Hail Mary, Our Father prayers.
  2. Gospel Readings - experience the bible through stories, songs, and role playing using Pflaum Gospel Weeklies