Sheltering Arms Curriculum
The Sheltering Arms curriculum is based on our philosophy of early childhood education:
1. the goals for children's development and learning,
2. the experiences through which they will achieve these goals,
3. what staff and parents do to help children achieve these goals,
4. the materials needed to support the implementation of the curriculum.
Sheltering Arms bases our instructional or educational program upon guiding principles set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Every experience plays some part in the growth and development of a child's personality. Therefore our educational philosophy is not complete without clarifying our principles of positive guidance:
The Sheltering Arms curriculum revolves around a comprehensive system of...
The Sheltering Arms Infant Curriculum, designed by our team of experienced early childhood professionals in collaboration with local universities, recognizes that learning for infants is everything the child experiences - arrival, dressing and undressing, diapering, hand washing and feeding. Research tells us that 90 percent of all learning occurs in the first three years of life. The Sheltering Arms Infant Curriculum takes advantage of this by providing planful, stimulating activities designed for individual children to maximize their language, cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Routines are viewed as the heart of the curriculum, with teachers understanding that infants rely on all their senses for learning. Teachers talk, snuggle, giggle, tickle a tummy, or sing a song as they change a diaper or feed a bottle to help infants discover the relationships between their body and the environment. A simple, flexible, daily schedule allows for relaxed routines and individualized eating and sleeping opportunities. Each infant is assigned a primary caregiver who does the majority of the care for the child, provides lots of physical affection, shows excitement and admiration, helps infants recognize and express emotions appropriately, sets appropriate limits, and is able to bond with both infants and parents. The primary caregiver does a weekly assessment of the infant's physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional skills. Individualized planning is based on this on-going skills assessment, and assessment results become learning objectives. Objectives are identified weekly for each child and teachers plan activities daily to reinforce these objectives. Cognitive objectives include object permanence, cause and effect, use of tools, an understanding of space, imitation, and learning schemes. Activities are introduced as appropriate and reinforced informally throughout the day based on individual developmental progress. Music and reading are integral parts of the curriculum, and sensory activities with water and simple art media enrich the curriculum for older infants. All infants are given "floor freedom" to explore their environment. Teacher training includes classes about the unparalleled growth of infants in all areas of development, how a young child's brain is a "work in progress," and the dramatic growth of the brain, which establishes patterns for lifelong learning.
While our Infant Curriculum is totally individualized, our Toddler Curriculum begins to include some "small group" planning. The assignment of primary caregivers keeps the individualized focus and the addition of simple planning through a relaxed, flexible schedule gives some order to the day and expands learning opportunities. Flexible schedules let us capitalize on those moments that arise when children discover something that interests them. They allow us to extend a play period so the children gain maximum satisfaction from what they're doing. The daily schedule includes a short music and language group time to which toddlers are invited but never required to participate. Child-selected activities continue to predominate. Teachers select developmental goals for each child in their bonding group based on individual assessments. Lesson plans are created that include items of interest to toddlers, such as balls, cars, boxes, and apples. These simple, specific, hands-on topics are the vehicles for learning the physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional skills appropriate for each child as determined by ongoing assessments.
Activities are planned to challenge, but never frustrate, the child. Feelings of self-worth are gained as children successfully master developmentally appropriate tasks. Children are encouraged to initiate their own activities in an enriched environment, divided into learning centers such as home living/dramatic play, blocks/large motor, art, manipulatives, math and science, sand and water, and a cozy book corner. Duplicates of durable materials are attractively displayed in low, open shelves to encourage independence and self-help skills. The Toddler Curriculum is everything that happens in the course of the day - all the child's experiences, planned and unplanned, as they are actively involved with people and materials from arrival to departure. Our emphasis is on children's interests and involvement in their learning, and on their growing ability to make constructive choices. Teachers set up an enriched environment, plan activities based on children's individual developmental assessments and then observe, evaluate, and extend children's learning. As children play, they reveal their skills and understanding, their misconceptions and difficulties, providing cues for teachers to engage with them in meaningful ways. At the heart of our Toddler Curriculum are these responsive, nurturing relationships with each child.
Parents are actively encouraged to become involved in the program through weekly parent involvement forms and personal invitations from teachers. Our curriculum is at its best when we have parent input and work together in partnerships that put children first.
The theme approach guides our developmentally appropriate planning for three, four and five year olds. Teachers select topics of interest to their children and use these ideas to reinforce developmental objectives for each individual child. As with the Infant and Toddler Curriculums, goals for each child are determined from the ongoing assessment. Teachers create individualized lesson plans based on the theme and incorporate language, math, science/sensory, small motor, large motor, creative, social and emotional objectives.
The classroom arrangement into clearly defined and well-stocked learning centers sets the framework for our Preschool Curriculum, where learning through play is emphasized. As with the Toddler Curriculum, the daily schedule allows for an appropriate balance of active and quiet, large and small group, child-initiated and teacher-facilitated activities, and the curriculum is seen as everything that happens in the course of the day- all the children's experiences, planned and unplanned, as they are actively involved with people and materials from arrival to departure. Our emphasis is on children's interests and involvement in their learning and on their ability to make constructive choices. Teachers set up an enriched environment, plan activities based on children's developmental assessments and then observe, evaluate and extend their learning.
One of our center directors explains the basic strategy of the theme-oriented, activity-based classroom program this way:
"When we were children, we did a lot of one-dimensional, rote learning, like coloring a picture of an apple and tracing the letter 'A.' Now if we do a unit on apples, we bring in apples and let children taste them, count them, cut them up, cook them -- so they will not just remember that apple starts with 'A,' but also the tastes of different varieties, sizes and shapes, and how a Granny Smith apple is bright green."
The children are encouraged to be curious, capable learners taking initiative and building on prior knowledge and experiences. As children play, they reveal their skills and understandings, their misconceptions and difficulties, providing cues for teachers to engage with them in ways that will be meaningful. Parent curriculum involvement forms are completed weekly to keep parents informed of classroom activities and to encourage their involvement.
Our Preschool Curriculum has been approved by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning for use in Pre-kindergarten classrooms. Unfortunately at this time it is not available for purchase.
Summer Camp (Ages 5-8)
Sheltering Arms Summer Camp is designed to be relaxing, recreational, educational and tailored to the interests of school age children. Our curriculum offers a rich range of daily activities, long-term projects, special events and celebrations, field trips and enrichment activities, and a unique science component that is stimulating and discovery oriented.
Creative arts and crafts include fabric dying, papier-mache, sand art, and clay sculpting. Integrated art opportunities feature exploration of creative expression through music, drama, and writing. Field trips to destinations such as the zoo and aquarium, museums, library, puppet theatre, bowling, roller-skating, and movies are designed to be both fun and educational. Outdoor activities include swimming, water play, organized sports and games, and gardening. We offer a strong literacy component in which children read and are read to daily and are encouraged to keep a written journal of their activities. Our special science focus includes daily exploration of basic biology, chemistry, and physics concepts, which give children opportunities to hypothesize, investigate, perform experiments and document their findings. Children are involved in weekly cooking activities.
Our summer campers are exposed to a myriad of activity choices while involved with supportive, nurturing, professional adult instructors trained to meet the needs and interest of school age children. Group size is limited to 20 campers, with 2 instructors per group. We offer exciting challenges in a relaxed setting with many opportunities for success.
Activities vary from location to location; so contact your nearest Sheltering Arms center for details on their summer line-up. Our 10-week curriculum is organized into 2-week camps built around themes such as:
**Please note, lesson plans are not currently available for purchase.