Our Educational Philosophy
First Discoveries Child Development Center strives to enhance children's growth and development. We believe that children learn best in a caring, supportive environment in which they have opportunities to make choices and interact with teachers, with other children, and with interesting materials. We know that the early years create a lasting foundation upon which all future learning will be built.
Our teachers understand the importance of play for young children. It is through play that children develop an understanding of the world around them as they explore materials and interact with other children and with caring teachers. According to Lev Vygotsky, in play a child stands "a head above himself." When playing, young children are motivated to try new experiences, work more cooperatively, and focus their attention for longer periods of time. As children build with blocks, they experience shapes, textures and colors, and when they play in the housekeeping corner, they develop critical language and social skills. Because play is so important to children's development, our program devotes time everyday for children to work and play in a variety of learning centers.
We also understand that as children grow and develop, they benefit from activities that are planned to enhance their development. In our infant/toddler program, most planned activities occur one-on-one or with one or two peers because our teachers understand that very young children need individualized attention. They also focus on finding "teachable moments" throughout the day to enhance language and social development, because they understand that every moment is an opportunity for learning.
For our preschoolers, group times such as circle time and story time become increasingly important. Our circle time features familiar routines (greeting songs, and the pledge of allegiance) because we understand that routines help young children focus their attention and participate in group activities. Our teachers also understand the importance of individualized activities for our preschoolers and they plan small group activities to target emerging skills and enhance children's development.
Many parents are concerned that their children leave preschool "ready for kindergarten" and we share this goal. We want each child who attends our program to be curious, eager learners. We also understand that the early years are an important developmental time, and our teachers focus on enhancing children's development in fun and engaging ways. Stories and songs provide a chance for children to explore language and literacy in a fun, interactive way. Art and music encourage children to use their senses and develop their creativity. Center time provides many opportunities for children to share materials and cooperate, building critical social skills. Children use puzzles and games to develop early math skills, they use the writing center to create letters and pictures that are meaningful to them, and they explore plants, insects and other interesting materials in the science center. Every day is rich with many opportunities to enhance all areas of development, from early literacy and math skills to important social and emotional skills.
As a parent, you are a valued partner in your child's education. Our teachers are experienced, caring professionals who understand the growth and development of young children. You, too, are an expert, an expert on the special needs, interests and dispositions of your child. Working together, we can create a program that meets the developmental needs of all the children enrolled in our programs and ensure that,
A lifetime of learning
begins with a child?s
Curriculum and Assessment
Our Preschool and VPK classes use the Creative Curriculum, which focuses on using art, music and play-based experiences to enhance all areas of children's development. Early literacy, math and science experiences are parts of the daily routine as children listen to stories, create pictures and stories, count during art experiences, and enjoy small group activities with the teachers. During weekly cooking experiences, children follow directions, use measurement tools such as measuring cups, learn new vocabulary and explore important science concepts, such as how matter changes. Our supplemental curriculum materials include Active Learning (skills based activities that enhance physical, social, cognitive and language skills), as well as Beyond Centers and Circle Time (a framework for planning meaningful play based activities).
Preschool and VPK children are assessed throughout the year through teacher observations, and work samples are saved to create individual portfolios that children take home at the end of the year. Assessment is guided by the Creative Curriculum's Developmental Continuum and VPK Learning Standards. As teachers observe and assess children, they use the data they have collected to create activities that are meaningful for each child enrolled in the program.
Our Infant Toddler classrooms use the Infant Toddler Planning Guide and the Active Learning Series to create developmentally appropriate early learning experiences. The Infant Toddler Planning Guide offers engaging thematic activities that incorporate books, songs and play-based activities. The Active Learning Series provides skill-based activities that enhance children's cognitive, language, social and physical development. Each day, teachers spend time watching and observing the infants and toddlers and these informal assessments help them plan their daily and weekly curriculum.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is developmentally appropriate curriculum?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children defines "developmentally appropriate curriculum" as learning experiences that meet the individual needs of each child by enhancing children's cognitive development (problem-solving and creativity as well as literacy, math and science), physical development (fine motor and gross motor), socio-emotional development, and language development. Developmentally appropriate programs are based on child development research and theory, with the learning experiences reflecting both the individual needs of each child as well as the cultural diversity of each family.
Is your program a "daycare"?
First Discoveries is a child development center focused on creating early learning experiences for young children. Our staff is highly trained, with degrees in early childhood, elementary education and psychology. We use professional curriculum materials and child assessment materials.
If you enroll at First Discoveries, your child isn't enrolled in a "daycare" ... they attend child development classes taught by experienced, highly trained teachers who are dedicated to the developmental needs of each child.
Our two year old class enjoys singing about the ocean. Using a big book during music enhances early literacy experiences, while singing about lots of different ocean animals helps children learn new facts while being engaged and excited about learning.
During our interactive summer camp, the children visited the Suncoast Bird Sanctuary. We saw a wide variety of birds, including herons, owls and storks. We learned that the sanctuary helps take care of injured animals that can't take care of themselves.
Our students learn how to make choices during center time, such as choosing an alphabet puzzle and word cards to "build" words.
They also learn how to clean up their materials when they are done working.
The Florida Aquarium visits our school during the summer, brining live ocean animals for the children to touch and observe.
Real-life, hands-on experiences help children build the strong vocabulary that they need to be successful in kindergarten and throughout life.
According to the NCRECE
(National Center for Research
on Early Childhood Education):
"Children's general understanding of their world was the strongest predictor of later reading and science, and along with early math skills, was a strong predictor of later competency in math."