“We need to think of Christian education as a movement or a growth process, directed toward an ideal goal which goes beyond the limitations of anything human. At the same time the process must be harmonious, so that Christian formation takes place within and in the course of human formation. The two are not separate and parallel paths; they are complementary forms of education which become one of the goals of the teacher and the willing reception of the students. The Gospel notes this harmonious growth in the child Jesus.”
~ The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School,
Congregation for Catholic Education, (1988)
Early Childhood Education should be a journey, not a race. On this journey, children travel at a different pace according to their individual development, background of experience and needs. Early Childhood education assists in the development of the total person-spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. Therefore, Early Childhood educational experiences should provide opportunity for unifying all aspects of children’s lives.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES
The age group within the scope of Pre-K and Kindergarten education shall be classified as follows:
- Pre Kindergarten-three, four and five year-olds (must meet entrance dates)
- Kindergarten-five year olds (must meet the entrance date)
- (Pre-First five-year olds
The minimum age for entrance into Pre-K must be 3 years old (meet entrance date) and the child should be able to use lavatory facilities independently.
The entrance date depends on the local school district in which the parish/regional school is located. In Philadelphia, the child must meet the entrance date of September 1. An assessment instrument is never used to exclude or include a child in an Early Childhood program. This is against the philosophy of Developmentally Appropriate Programs. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) opposes using any assessment instruments for this purpose. A school is not required to admit a child as a beginner whose chronological age is less than the school’s established admission age for beginners.
The educational program of Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Pre-first follow the Archdiocesan Early Childhood Guidelines. These guidelines meet the needs of the students, the educational objectives of Early Childhood education and are consistent with the philosophy of Catholic education.
Early Childhood teachers are required to prepare weekly plans that follow the guidelines and incorporate the concepts therein, through appropriate techniques and experiences.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Activities are planned so children participate to the fullest extent possible, most often individually or in small groups. The teacher is available to answer questions or stimulate children’s thinking as they work on their own.
Teachers recognize and use the teachable moment to integrate children’s learning whenever possible (e.g., an unplanned event captures children’s interest, such as the arrival of a tree-trimming crew, so the children go outdoors to watch, talk about why trees are being trimmed, try to figure what will happen to the wood chips, listen to the sounds of the equipment, smell the freshly cut wood and go back indoors to dictate or write about the experience.)
Children and adults move about the classroom from learning center to learning center as they complete activities and talk with each other in informal but respectful ways. Children are motivated to learn because what they are doing is so interesting and builds upon their natural curiosity.
All areas of learning are integrated in meaningful, natural ways so children can see the usefulness of their emerging skills; (e.g., children make a shopping list for a cooking project, distribute cups to each child for snacks and care for plants or small animals, keeping charts and records that use newly developing pre-math, pre-writing and pre-reading skills.) Children are given a number of educational options regarding activities, and their choices are respected within the limits of space.
Program of Instruction
Learning experiences, both informal and planned shall include:
Religion Activities | Gross Motor Skill Development and Dramatic Play
Fine Motor Skill Development | Language Arts Activities | Mathematical Activities Perceptual Activities | STREAM Activities | Fine Arts including Music, Dance, Art |
Social science and Intercultural | Nutrition | Health and Safety | Free Play/Outdoors
The purpose of assessing Early Childhood students is to discover what programs are suitable and to make instructional decisions to meet the needs of each student. Decisions that have a major impact on children should be based primarily on information obtained from observation by teachers and parents, not on the basis of a single test score. The assessment of children’s progress and achievement is to be used to plan curriculum, identify strengths and weaknesses, communicate with parents and evaluate the program’s effectiveness. Data obtained from Terra Nova Standardized Testing is used to determine program effectiveness and establish baseline scores for students.
It is the professional responsibility of administrators and teachers to critically evaluate, carefully select, and use assessments only for the purposes for which they are intended and for which data exist demonstrating validity. Accurate interpretation of assessment results is essential. It is the obligation of teachers to become informed about measurement issues, to use results responsibly and to administer the instrument within proper time limits. Teachers should interpret results without making undue claims about their meaning or implications.
The testing of students and the interpretation of results must be conducted by individuals who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to the developmental needs of young students. The teachers should be qualified to administer the tests. The testing must recognize and be sensitive to the individual diversity of the students.