Building Brains for Success Through Play and Connection: NHCS Early Childhood Year in Review

by NHCS Early Childhood Education Department

During the 2017-2018 school year, the NHCS Early Childhood Education Program (NHCS ECE) served over 870 children ages 3 and 4 in 50 public and private school classrooms across the county. Preschool children are growing rapidly and their thirst for knowledge is almost unquenchable! Our preschool program uses the Creative Curriculum system which places emphasis on learning in Interest Centers and hands-on investigation of study topics. Young children learn best through intentional play based experiences. Nearly every interaction in a preschool classroom provides an opportunity for a developmental or content based learning objective. Now you know why we take naps :)

Preschool children use literacy and drawing skills to write about their emotions.

In addition to our state approved curriculum, we utilize the formative assessment called Teaching Strategies Gold (which is part of the Creative Curriculum system). This formative assessment process requires teachers to collect data points on 38 researched based objectives three times a year. The 38 objectives for development and learning are predictors of school success and are based on school readiness standards. We feel so proud about implementing this curriculum which is the most widely used preschool curriculum in the state.

This past year, we have strengthened our partnership with 10 private sites which serve NC Pre-K children. Our department has provided curriculum resources and professional development for every private site teacher and directors. This past year, private site teachers filled out the Kindergarten Transition Card in alignment with our public preschool classrooms. For 2018-2019, every single elementary school will have NHCS Preschool graduates!

We are exceptionally proud of our implementation of the social and emotional learning  program Conscious Discipline, which trains teachers how to view children’s behavior in a neuroscience informed way.  In our classrooms, teachers use strategies to teach prosocial skills and develop foundational executive skills with our preschoolers. In our classrooms, you will see Baby Doll Circle Time, Feelings Buddies, Safe Place, Brain Smart Start and Wish Well.

Preschool child practices active calming by using breathing techniques with her baby doll.

In NHCS preschool classrooms, we are building young brains through play and connection. We are reminded of a quote from Ghandi, “To reach real peace in the world, we will have to begin with the children.”  We believe we are investing in our society by collectively raising our children to have empathy and be problem solvers and we know our children will have lasting positive effects on the Wilmington community.

We are proud to showcase the data of our children throughout our Pre-K classrooms.

Our children have shown incredible growth this year as assessed in 6 domains of learning: 4 developmental domains of Social and Emotional, Language, Physical and Cognitive and 2 content domains: Math and Literacy. In each domain, our preschool children have shown growth: at the end of the 17-18 school year 87% of children were meeting or exceeding the widely held expectation for Social and Emotional domain learning, 82% of children were meeting or exceeding in Language, 94% were meeting or exceeding in Physical development, 87% of children were meeting or exceeding in Cognitive development, 81% were meeting or exceeding in Math, and 87% were meeting or exceeding the expectation for Literacy development.

Kudos to our youngest learners and the teachers who support them!

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