Early Childhood

Early Pre-kindergarten - Kindergarten

At Christ Episcopal School we value early childhood education and understand the tremendous impact it has on life outcomes. At the Early Childhood Campus (ECC), our program is child-centered, and our curriculum—with a high student-to-teacher ratio and highly educated, well-trained professionals—is developmentally appropriate and differentiated to meet each child’s needs. This is a place that understands each child is unique and special. We embrace the whole child, fostering and accepting differences. Our philosophy allows children to approach situations and problems confidently for the rest of their lives.

Everything is Our Size

Here, we are three, four, five, and six. Our chairs are small, our socks get lost, and we like to go outside. We aren’t grown-ups. We are little. And we go to a school that understands about being little. Here everything fits us–the water fountain is low, the paper towels are in our reach, the work shelves and cubbies are perfectly stationed, and the playground is HUGE. We can be independent—both in our care and our explorations—because this place was prepared for “little.”

The Day Revolves Around Us

Here our schedule prioritizes creativity over rigidity. We are building ramps out of boards and tires and racing balls along different inclines–working together, figuring out an intuitive physics. Our teacher sees and doesn’t interrupt even though the schedule says we should go inside. She adjusts the schedule to fit us. Five minutes later we have a breakthrough. Five minutes means the world when you are little.

We Get Messy

Here it’s often a big mess. Painting in the corridor, manipulatives on the rug, pouring and measuring real liquids that spill–oops, it did–on the counter. Some of us are sprawled out. Some of us are standing, moving around, carrying out our work independently and individually, literally all over the place. That means we may all be doing something different. At the same time. And that sometimes makes grownups uncomfortable–like we lack order. But see it from three feet tall! We are using our whole bodies in a disciplined, self-directed, engaged, and invested pursuit. If that’s not order of the highest order, what is?

We Learn to Think

Here we are learning to be in a place and role, to use the right tools correctly, to carry out complicated processes all on our own. To think on our own in our own time. This is our work–this messy, jostled, trial and error, creatively beautiful work of little hands. And it is at its best, its most instructive, and its deepest when it is spontaneously self-directed. Here, they believe that; they don’t mind the mess–they say “get to work little ones.”

Play is Serious Business

So, if you walk around here and it looks like play, that’s because it is. Here play is a very serious matter–the most vital work of childhood, they are always saying. It is where we learn to be friendly. Brave. Compassionate. Curious. Helpful. Inclusive. Relaxed. Passionate. But most of all, kind. Kindness is learned here every day, because it is through our imaginations that we learn to be our best version of ourselves. They see that here. They teach that here. They love that here.

Content written by CES parent Alison Six.

ECC Curriculum

Academics
Enrichment
Traditions

Our program is focused on the development of expressive and receptive language and on fostering emergent reading and writing skills. Attention is placed on the enhancement of listening skills and vocabulary growth, acquisition of alphabetic principles, introduction to phonemic awareness, and early literacy skills. Literary experiences support studies of genres such as nursery rhymes and fairy tales and also incorporate story elements, sequencing, and dramatic expression. CES recognizes the importance of instilling a love of reading and writing in all children and is committed to meeting the needs of children with different learning styles.  Teachers model strategies of good readers and writers, and as the students proceed through our curriculum, they learn to recognize sight words, decode words, and put their thoughts on paper in large groups, small reading groups, and during individual conference time. Creative writing is included across the curricula to reinforce the skills of inventive spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure; word building and segmenting; and sequencing and story elements.  The children regularly write in personal journals and collaborate with teachers and peers in creating class books, as well as participate in creating a print-rich environment. Our program is hands-on and integrated into other subject areas quite naturally throughout the day.

The math program consists of hands-on, investigative activities that help our children understand the world of numbers and shapes, giving concrete meaning to abstract mathematical concepts. From a playground that slopes, climbs, steps, slides, rolls, and bumps to the shapes of the trees, birdhouses, churches, and gardens that surround us, our campus is conducive to exploring mathematics in our environment. The program presents children with concepts of mathematical vocabulary, number and shape recognition and identification, counting, place value, sorting and patterning, problem solving, comparison of quantity, charting and graphing, measurement, estimation, higher order thinking skills, adding and subtracting, making sets, and tallying.

While our science program invites curiosity, investigation, and trial-and-error discovery, observation and exploration provide the foundation for thematic units of study. Wonder and inquisitiveness is valued and embraced, and it is from here that the curriculum takes shape.

Whether following leaves as they fall and blow through the playground, inspecting acorns to find similarities and differences, or using binoculars to watch birds at the feeder or squirrels scamper on the playground, children are encouraged to explore and experiment. Teachers ask open-ended questions and children are urged to ask their own questions and use the scientific method to discover answers.

The social studies program invites community both within and outside our campus, providing the children with a sense of local and global awareness. The routines and structures of the classroom environment help the children understand how they parallel real-world situations, encouraging independence and a sense of community. We teach respect by modeling respect.  We ask questions about Louisiana, our town, our school, and the people who work and live in our state. We explore maps and globes, and we teach economics, government, history, and cultures. We emphasize what is necessary to live and work in a community. Children are viewed as valued members of the school family who are integral to the day-to-day success and positivity of our environment. We become involved in the communities of our classroom and school, our town, our state, and our world.

P.E. activities are presented in a way to encourage a lifelong love for exercise and physical fitness. During full-body warmup routines, students are provided with a foundation of general body awareness and motor skills for future sports and fitness programs. Group activities and traditional games strengthen cooperation and listening skills. The children have many opportunities to develop strength, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, agility, and cardiovascular strength during curricular units. (Twice per week – once in a small, half-group of five-eight children and once in a full group of 10-16 for 30 minutes)

Lessons are filled with games, puzzles, songs, chants, and simple coloring and writing activities.  In this way, we help our youngest students engage in a foreign language with excitement and enthusiasm. Our goal is to foster our students’ awakening and understanding of what it means to be a part of a global community. Lessons provide exposure to the concept of what it means to be a child in another culture, complete with a different language, vocabulary, clothing, architecture, music, food, holiday traditions, folk and fairy tales, and history.  By offering a consistent foundation of Spanish vocabulary to a variety of learning styles, the children are introduced to basic vocabulary, greetings, songs, prayers, and common expressions.  The introduction of foreign language provides many opportunities to enhance opportunities for critical thinking.

Beginning in pre-kindergarten and continuing through fifth grade, students take part in Godly Play. The Godly Play curriculum engages what is most exciting about religious education: God inviting us into—and pursuing us in the midst of—scripture and spiritual experience. Godly Play practice teaches us to listen for God and to make authentic and creative responses to God’s call in our lives. Children hear the stories of God’s people and are encouraged to wonder, make meaning, and develop their own voice and language to describe and nurture their spirituality

The art program promotes art appreciation and vocabulary. Students work on correct use of materials and mediums and discrimination between color, shape, shade, texture, size and space, quantities and weights. The program also helps students develop their skills in sequencing, arranging, and flexibility. While in their creative element, they are also learning to be independent problem-solvers with big imaginations and strong self-esteem. They also practice their listening skills, cooperation, planning, following instructions, and self-direction.

In addition, students will understand the application of media, techniques and processes, and structures and functions. They will also learn about visual arts and how it relates to history and culture and make connections among other disciplines. We also work on understanding, reflecting, and assessing characteristics and merits of artwork.

The music program at the ECC exposes children to seasonal, spiritual, and thematic songs.  Classical, folk, and local music are introduced in addition to traditional children’s songs.  Students prepare for various school performances and church services and are provided the opportunity to become familiar and creative with musical instruments such as drums, rhythm sticks, bells, and recorders.  Sound is explored through singing, moving, listening, and playing these instruments.  Aspects of sounds, including loud and soft, rhythm, high and low, and duration, are discovered.  Children also engage in group dance exercises and dramatic play activities.  Class lessons develop community building, cooperative skills, self-discipline, and improved self-image. Music enrichment is held once a week in small groups of five-eight children for 30 minutes.

Our Busy Bees take a trip to the pumpkin patch, present the Petit Monde Festival, celebrate their mothers with a picnic, have a Thanksgiving Feast while enjoying the Native American Village, and participate in Breakfast with St. Nicholas.  You also never know when these Busy Bees will have an impromptu second line, umbrella parade, or transportation day!

Once in pre-kindergarten, the children take a field trip to the parish fair, enjoy a visit from local firefighters, listen to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, prepare and share a Thanksgiving feast,  participate in Breakfast With St. Nicholas, Christmas carol at Christwood Retirement Center, help hatch alligators at Instagator, visit The Barn at the Christwood Boulevard Campus (CBC), enjoy a Mother’s Day Tea, and canoe in the Bogue Falaya River, right in our own backyard!  If it’s been raining, pre-kindergarten students can be found creating rivers, lakes, and waterways on the playground.

Kindergarten students wrap up their unit of study about fish with the annual Fish Fest and fishing trip, enjoy Native American fun and games with their seventh grade buddies, create gingerbread houses at Christmas, celebrate with their mothers at the Butterfly Ball, have a morning with dads at Birdhouse Breakfast, and have a fiesta to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. They end the year by creating and performing in their very own circus!