Newark Public Schools preschool program is offered in 4 district Early Childhood Schools, 26 district elementary schools and 61 community-based child care centers, (a total of 441) classrooms in SY 2014-2015. The program recognizes the value of developmentally appropriate practices that focuses on the growth of the whole child in a nurturing and safe learning environment. It is designed to promote experiential learning that is authentic and sequential. The major goal of the preschool program is to create a positive learning environment that nurtures each child’s growth, independence, and a love of learning. The Office of Early Childhood takes on this endeavor by building the foundation for success in preparing all students for college, work and life.
The use of a Department of Education approved, research-based, preschool curriculum, The Creative Curriculum, has enhanced and ensured positive preschool learning environments. The assessment component, Gold is being used in all preschool classrooms. This strength-based assessment tool focuses on objectives for learning in the content areas of literacy, mathematics, science, technology, social studies and the arts as well as objectives for development in the social-emotional, physical, oral language & cognitive domains. Based on the documentation collected, teachers are able to guide curriculum planning and instruction for the class as a whole as well as for individual children.
Since the development of young children involves not only the cognitive/language domains, but also physical and social-emotional well-being, the Teacher coaches provide in class technical assistance to all district pre-k classrooms and community-based child care centers staff in Newark. Structured classroom observations conducted by the Teacher coaches help our staff determine the specific strengths and needs in the classrooms. Ongoing differentiated professional development is facilitated to assist teachers in transforming research and theory into best practices.
The Office of Early Childhood also provides health-related screenings and services for all students. When indicated, students identified as at risk for health related complications are provided with health interventions and on-going related support throughout the year. The provision of a safe and healthy environment is monitored by OEC Nurses Team who conducts routine site assessments that ensure our classrooms are clean and safe in order to minimize and prevent illness and accidents. Nurses also educate children, parents, and staff about safety, nutrition, and appropriate health topics.
The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team (PIRT) members provide assistance to teachers and families of children experiencing difficulties in learning and/or behavior. In collaboration with teachers and families, assistance is provided via classroom interventions, referrals to outside agencies, and parent information and support. Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum is utilized to teach social-emotional skills, and is also implemented as a global classroom strategy for four-year-old children. Socially competent children cooperate, show consideration for others, manage their feelings appropriately, and show success in solving problems.
The Family and Community Engagement Team collaborates with educators, parents and community agencies to provide ongoing social services and outreach initiatives. Through the forum of the Early Childhood Advisory Council, parent workshops, and city-wide registration and recruitment, the ECS assists with expanding and strengthening the “Community School” Model and provides supports to families so that they are informed and become involved with school and provides additional opportunities for our youngest learners.
The Office of Early childhood is excited about the service we provide to the youngest learners and their families. Collaboration, knowledge and passion regarding the well-being of our children will help to make a big difference in the Newark community! We look forward to a great school year!