At Presbyterian Day School, teachers are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to make sure children are progressing through the standards set by the state of Florida to guide instruction.
The standards were developed by breaking down all of the components students will need to be successful in kindergarten, and we make sure each of our classes meets the appropriate objectives to build on prior learning and be highly ready for kindergarten at the conclusion of VPK. The curriculum we use at PDS to help facilitate this process is Pinnacle, which is a research-based early childhood curriculum based on the works of Piaget, Gardner, and Erikson.
Pinnacle provides teachers with lessons and activity ideas that involve children in developmentally appropriate activities that help them learn the standards in an engaging way. Teachers are given proven ideas and activities for a base, but they also have flexibility to use their own creativity and knowledge of child development and the actual children in their current classroom to be able to best meet all children’s needs and bring them to the next level. We are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and work to keep the child at the center of all we do.
Pinnacle curriculum is based on a thematic approach, with different themes chosen to integrate with the standards in a fun way. We use a thematic approach to help with deeper learning so that children are better able to retain new ideas and knowledge and really get the opportunity to interact with it. Children learn best through play, which is really the main work of a preschooler. Teachers intentionally organize activities so that children are able to progress and grow, and have fun doing it while learning in many different ways. Choice is always important, and students have the opportunity to choose and develop activities to to best help them meet the next step in their own individual development.
Class time is structured around small group and large group activities interspersed with choice time at different stations in the classroom. We also have outside time every day in the outdoor classroom which offers more opportunities for growth. Teachers always look for ways to intentionally incorporate participatory and active learning using different learning modalities; it is common to see the younger children on a shape and color walk while also searching for lizards, or the older students investigating science principles by manipulating levers and drains at the water table or playing with loose parts. Our classes are small and our child/teacher ratios are kept very low to best meet children’s needs.
In addition to regular Chapel Time, our Christian faith is interwoven throughout the thematic units. Children will experience and celebrate God’s love for them as they go through their school experience and will leave school knowing how much God loves them.