An Overview of Children of The Woodlands
The facilities for Children of The Woodlands Methodist School are housed on the campus of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. Security of the students is of our upmost importance. Individuals must check in with the receptionist before entering the locked doors. Classrooms are organized by age. Classrooms are large and inviting, and filled with age-appropriate materials. The playgrounds are designed with the different age groups in mind. The toddlers/twos playground has low climbing structures and ride-on toys. Playgrounds for older children have more room to run and have swings and larger climbing structures. Each classroom has a bathroom attached.
Special care is given to the social and emotional development of our Toddlers and Twos. Teachers lovingly guide students as they work on separating from parents, awareness of others (empathy), self-control, making transitions, listening, and self-expression. We develop large muscles in daily activities such as climbing, running, jumping and dancing. Fine motor skills are developed through fun activities including puzzles, using play dough with various tools, painting and drawing. Classroom activities are designed to foster creativity, imagination, problem solving skills, exploration and experimentation. Children develop their language skills through singing, listening to stories, dramatic play, vocabulary development and speech enhancement. Starting with their own names, children begin to learn about letters and words. Teachers take dictation so children can see their own words in print. Basic and early math concepts are introduced through hands-on activities. Our children are taught counting songs such as “The Ants Go Marching One by One” and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” We use our most portable manipulatives, our fingers, for these songs. They are learning about the world around them through play.
Children in Threes classes are learning independence and cooperation while discovering play-based academics. During circle time, children are sharing, listening and participating with others. At centers, children play independently and in small groups. For 3-year-olds, we focus on understanding and respecting personal space. Teachers encourage students to use their words to work out problems. Children are immersed in language. Books with rhyme and rhythm allow children to play with language and focus on hearing differences and similarities in language. Nonfiction books increase knowledge and provide information about the real world. Singing songs, finger plays and class discussions further add to language learning. We build math skills throughout the day. Children count daily. They count everything from the number of children in line to how many people are on the swings. Children participate in calendar time, sorting activities, graphing, shape and number recognition, and problem solving. Science skills are developed through observing, exploring, experimenting and predicting. Many of our games and centers encourage hands-on concept development. We provide a Christian environment with daily activities that allow children to grow in awareness of the love of God.
The Fours curriculum provides a smooth transition from skills learned in the 3-year-olds classroom to meet the more complex needs of 4-year-olds. At 4, children are becoming more aware of language, both oral and written. Their increased attention span allows them to listen to stories more discriminately. They begin to compare stories, understand fiction and nonfiction, and make predictions. Most children are now experienced in dramatic play, which translates to story writing. We provide opportunities for the students to express themselves through puppets, take home journals, drama, daily sharing such as show-and-tell, and class-made books. We encourage children to write their names on their artwork and use the Handwriting Without Tears approach to learn correct letter formation.
Children in Fours classes are continuing to develop an awareness of numbers and acquire ideas about size, space and position of objects. Children are encouraged to use math vocabulary to express these ideas. They are developing concepts of graphing, patterning, one-to-one correspondence, ordinal numbers and recognizing numerals 1-10.
Children build confidence with their ability to follow routines independently and know what is expected of them. Self-management skills are encouraged such as packing and unpacking their backpacks; handling their own buttons, snaps and zippers; opening their own lunches; and cleaning up. Fours are also beginning to solve their own problems about sharing and differences of opinion. Teachers encourage these budding skills through teaching, encouragement and modeling.
School readiness is not magically achieved on a child’s fifth birthday. Readiness is built over the years of experiences that support the development of a child’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language skills. Before children can master academic tasks, they need time to pretend, build, climb, play, draw, question and observe.
It is important to look at children from a development perspective when considering school year placement. Developmental readiness considers chronological age, social and emotional stability, physical abilities, and cognitive understanding. Children of The Woodlands offers a Transition class (a class after 4-year-old preschool and before kindergarten) that provides children extra time they may need for the maturation required to be successful in school.
Circle time in the Transition classroom is rich in literature and phonemic awareness. Students need to have a strong foundation in spoken language in order to be successful with written language. Songs, finger plays and games encourage children to manipulate sounds and “play with language.” Early reading skills are built through Shared Reading which is an interactive reading session involving the whole class or small groups.
Students have many opportunities to write and develop early writing skills. Transition students also participate in the Handwriting Without Tears program. This program helps them develop visual discrimination and necessary fine motor skills they will need to be successful in kindergarten. Transition students learn about shape and size discrimination, spatial relationships, balance, cause and effect, counting and patterning through various activities. The science centers offer opportunities such as exploration, discovering, investigating and problem solving. Students attend chapel weekly, pray before snack and lunch, and review Bible stories and verses.
We provide a stimulating environment where children develop a solid foundation for further learning and a positive attitude toward school. We teach a love of learning. Our classrooms are filled with play-based, hands-on learning experiences. This is how children learn best! All components of our program are based on developmentally appropriate practices. In essence, that means that we meet the needs of each student at his or her own level and build upon his or her strengths.
Children participate in daily activities to help them grow in awareness of the love of God. Activities include thanking God for His many blessings, learning about the wonder of God’s creation, hearing Bible stories and other Christian based stories, and singing Christian songs. In addition, all classes attend chapel (outside of the classroom) weekly.
Children learn independence and cooperation through classroom activities. Sharing, listening and participating with others are encouraged. Children learn self-confidence as they gain skills and learn routines.
Each teacher plans activities throughout the day to promote development of both fine and gross motor skills. Children play outside every day (weather permitting). Daily music and motor classes help children develop muscle strength, coordination and cooperative play.
Every child at our school is exposed to and engaged in a literacy-rich environment. We strive to create an atmosphere where children are explorers, problem solvers and critical thinkers. We desire for children to become lifelong learners who love to read! We use a research based, balanced approach to literacy.
In order to be successful readers, children first need a strong foundation in phonemic awareness and oral language development. At all levels, you will find children engaged in chants, rhymes, songs and many other opportunities to “play with language.” Because it holds such meaning for a child, we use a child’s name to first introduce letters and sounds. From there, we use a variety of materials and methods to reinforce learning and make connections to new learning.
Our classrooms are filled with authentic purposes for reading and writing. You will find inviting library centers where children can read and well-stocked writing centers where children can write letters, stories, lists or anything they have in mind. Through read-alouds and shared writing, teachers are intentional about modeling strategies for learning. Shared reading is an opportunity for the teacher and students to interact with a text together. Teachers use this time to help students learn about elements of text and to build a foundation for reading skills. Likewise, shared writing is an interactive experience where students can help generate a message or story and even “share the pen” to help write part of the message themselves. These are excellent opportunities to learn about how letters and words work.
Children build a solid conceptual understanding of math concepts through concrete, authentic experiences. At all levels, you will find children counting, sorting, building, graphing, measuring and problem solving. Teachers help children advance these skills using a developmentally appropriate sequence.
Science and Social Studies
Science provides an opportunity to appreciate living things, improve observation skills, develop vocabulary, and foster children’s natural curiosity. Social Studies topics broaden children’s knowledge of the world around them. For both subjects, our emphasis is on hands-on learning and exploration. Children will also interact with and learn from nonfiction texts.
Creating art is a positive, tactile experience which encourages expression of ideas and feelings. In child initiated art, emphasis is placed on the process rather than product. Rather than completing a predetermined “craft,” children become the sole owners of their art as they explore various media (paint, shaving cream, play dough, etc.) using a wide variety of applicators — everything from their own fingers to tree branches to feathers. Process art helps children develop critical-thinking skills as they plan and organize their artwork.
Children have free time at a variety of centers. These provide opportunities for children to develop social skills, set goals, make decisions, use individual learning styles, develop creativity and communicate ideas. Centers include dramatic play, blocks, sensory table, science center, library center, writing, art and manipulative centers. Activities vary within these centers.
Children develop and acquire skills through a predictable sequence of stages. We provide a learning environment that allows a child to build upon existing skills. Children accommodate new information by interacting with concrete materials and experiencing the environment through their senses.
Curiosity is an important method of learning for young children. Children can learn best when they are given the opportunity to ask questions and find different solutions to a problem.
Repetition and imitation are necessary for learning to occur. As children repeat actions, songs, words and routines, they increase skills and understanding. Children observe and imitate others who model attitudes and actions.
We provide an atmosphere where a child feels loved and accepted as a special person created by God. Parents and teachers working together can support each other in providing positive learning experiences for our children. When this is accomplished, we both can look forward to the promise of Proverbs 22:6 (NIV): “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not return from it.” Children experience God’s love and build a sense of self-worth through love and acceptance.
Each child is recognized as a unique and special person with the potential to grow and learn. Our developmentally appropriate environment is designed to provide learning opportunities for a wide spectrum of abilities. Depending on facilities and resources, we make every effort to accommodate special needs. In certain instances a child may require an aide to “shadow” them throughout the school day; this aide must be provided at the parent’s expense.
We reserve the right to request a formal professional evaluation in order to better serve our students. Because providing the best possible care for all our students is a high priority, a copy of the results should be mailed directly from the specialist to the director within seven working days of the diagnosis.
The library provides a welcoming environment where students, faculty, staff and parents can locate information in a variety of formats to assist in their academic, spiritual and recreational pursuits. Library goals and objectives target activities that develop lifelong learners, encourage love of literature, and promote independent seekers of information. The librarian visits classrooms regularly for story times and for lessons that teach children the skills necessary to be effective users of information in all its forms.
Music and Motor
The music and motor program is taught by the staff from Boni’s Dance and Performing Arts Studio. A classroom teacher also attends with the students at all times. Gross motor skills are enhanced through fun, age-appropriate movement activities. Children attend music and motor everyday.
Our children have an opportunity to attend chapel each week. The Children’s Ministry team presents age-appropriate Bible stories with songs and activities. Chapel details are posted online for continued learning and family communication.