The Brain-Based Difference Curriculum
VDOE Approved Brain Based Learning Curriculum
Brain Based Learning is implemented at Blue Ribbon Results Academy. VDOE approved this curriculum recently, and now Virginia preschools, daycares, and home schools can use it!
The Brain Based curriculum includes Virginia’s Early Learning and Development Standards, Birth-Five Learning Guidelines.
Blue Ribbon Results Academy’s (Child Care Center) instructional program utilizes knowledge of 12 Brain-based principles and 7 high-yield strategies to create a holistic learning experience for our students. Our Brain-based curriculum is learning in accordance with the way the brain is biologically designed to learn. Jensen (2008b) said, “Brain-based education is best understood in three words: engagement, strategies, and principles” (p. 410). Hence, the 12 Principles of brain-based learning are the foundation, the core philosophy upon which Blue Ribbon Results Child Care was created. All instructional practices are derived from how God created our brains to think, to see the interconnected whole, to process information by analyzing and synthesizing, and then to use that new-found knowledge as a means of adapting to the forever changing world we live in.
As teachers, parents, and educational researchers have discovered, Brain-based learning not only helps young children excel in language and cognitive learning but also promotes independence, curiosity, decision-making, cooperation, persistence, creativity, and problem solving — the fundamental skills that help determine success in adult life. This is what we mean by The Brain-Based Difference.
The Preschool Program
In individual classrooms, each day begins with a brief service of worship. Students participate in and learn to pray, and memorize the story specific scripture for the month that sets the tone and expectation for the day. Then students gather for Circle Time where they are engaged in a variety of songs and movements. Students focus on one bible story per month as they learn what a righteous character looks like in the eyes of God and how to put it into practice. Throughout our activities, we work to inspire love for the Lord and one another. Music, art, role play, and non-linguistic representation are the primary strategies used to deliver and reinforce the lessons.
Students are engaged daily in the five components of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. Each month we introduce 5 to 6 “focus” letters of the alphabet and provide at least 5 different opportunities throughout the day for students to recognize, become engaged, and have adequate practice. These opportunities may occur during Calendar Math, Shared Reading, Bible Talk and Small Group Time, and Stations. Students learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet, the letter sounds, elements of a book, reading from left to right and top to bottom, and understand the difference between pictures and text. In addition, students are exposed to the pre primer through kindergarten sight word list and are encouraged to read them in real life situations. Before naptime, first grade and kindergarten students take pleasure in finding a “reading buddy” one of our two or three-year-old students to read with and practice their skills in a non threatening environment.
At Blue Ribbon, oral language development comes from modeling, listening and speaking, and practicing new experiences encountered throughout the instructional day. Show and Tell is one of the children’s favorite ways of practicing public speaking with a familiar audience.
Coloring is an essential part of preparing students to write. We begin by having students trace and color the four basic shapes which help to form the letters of the alphabet. To prepare for the pencil grasp, students engage in tearing paper, picking up objects with tongs and tweezers, and kneading and rolling playdough to strengthen the muscles in the hand, fingers, and wrist. Students learn to compose by drawing pictures and dictating their stories before being able to write them. This is the students’ first exposure to composition writing. Formal writing instruction begins with practicing horizontal and vertical lines and letters of the alphabet that are formed with those lines. Then diagonal, semi-circle and circles. Letters with those strokes are practices as well. Care is taken throughout the language arts curriculum that each child may learn at his/her own skill level. This allows children to gain confidence in their abilities and to see that each person has his/her own strengths. Students learn to encourage and support one another.
Calendar Math is the preferred instructional tool used to expose students to numbers and number sense, counting forward and backwards, days of the week, months of the year, shapes, colors, geometry, nonstandard and standard measurement, patterns, functions, and algebra, money, probability and statistics, computation, reasoning and word problems. In small groups and 1:1, students are engaged in math games, understanding math terminology, using technology, learning songs and poems about numbers, solving stories with numbers, writing numbers, counting, creating mind-maps, and using mathematics in many different, real-world situations.
Our science curriculum provides many opportunities to explore and emphasize the wonders of the Lord’s creation. Students learn that scientists use their 5 senses to explore the world. The bible serves as the overarching understanding for everything God created. Science investigations and experiments are conducted weekly. The following topics are explored: Scientific Investigations, Reasoning,and Logic, Matter/Physical and Chemical Reactions, Life Processes: The life cycle of the animals and plants, Force, Motion, and Energy: Gravity: push and pull, slow vs. fast, Magnets, Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems, Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change, and Resources.
Social Science Exploration
Our social science curriculum is intimately connected since humans are the Lord’s greatest creation. We help the students expand their awareness of their families, friends, communities and the world around them, both living, nonliving and historical. Social Science is a spiraling curriculum: the topics are taken up again in elementary school in deeper and expanded ways to accommodate growing minds. Over the course of the year, the following topics are explored: Economics/World of Work, Making Choices and Earning Money/Civics/Citizenship/Geography location and descriptive are explored.
Nutrition, rest, and physical exercise are essential for a child’s brain health. Hence, nutrition, rest, and physical education are a part of the daily schedule. Daily, students are engaged in at least 1 hour of physical activities and 30 minutes of nutrition and brain rest. Throughout the week, the following topics are explored: Skilled Movement, Movement Principles and Concepts, Personal Fitness, Responsible Behaviors, Physically Active Lifestyles, Health Knowledge and Skills, Health Information Access and Use, and Community Health and Safety. Weekly, Kindergarten and First Grade students receive 45 minutes of instruction in required SOLs.
Instead of teaching art as a separate subject, we integrate artistic activities throughout each day. Students work with various media to enhance studies in all subjects. Some of the media used include paints, clay, recycled boxes and paraphernalia, crayons and pencils, fabric, and weaving. (This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of the variety of exposure.)
Kindergartners and First Graders follow the state curriculum and have formal art instruction for 45 minutes once a week. All other students experience artistic activities throughout each day. Students work with various media to enhance studies in all subjects. Over the course of the year, the following topics are explored: Visual Communication and Production, Art History and Cultural Context, Analysis, Evaluation and Critique, and Aesthetics.
Music has a big part to play every day in our classroom. Students learn songs for worship and to increase memory of letters, rhymes, numbers and other concepts. The following topics are explored: Music Theory/Literacy, Performance, Music History and Cultural Context, Analysis Evaluation/Critique, and Aesthetics. Students in Grade 1 and kindergarten have at least one hour of formal music instruction once a week based on the SOL curriculum.
Character development happens throughout the day as the children learn to interact with others. For some students, this is the first experience of being part of an organized group. Teachers help guide students in making good choices and solving basic social problems when they arise. The Bible is used as the standard for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness. The children learn that the Lord loves them always, and his first and second greatest commandments are “You shall love the Lord your God… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-40. Throughout the year, the following topics are explored: Approaches to Learning, Interaction with Others, Self-Concept, Self-Regulation, and Social Problem Solving. Students in Grade 1 and Kindergarten receive at least 2 hours of instruction based on the SOL curriculum.
Children engage daily in outdoor play as the weather permits and provided the weather air quality and environmental safety conditions do not pose a threat. Outdoor play is structured for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, then children choose activities and equipment designed to develop their large muscle skills, get exercise, be active, and learn to have genuine experiences in solving social problems. We use the Child Care Weather Watch guidelines produced by Healthy Child Care Virginia to determine if the Wind Chill Factor or Heat Index is safe for outdoor play. In cases when we cannot go outside (due to weather conditions) children are given the opportunity to use indoor equipment for similar activities inside and are supervised at the same level as outdoor equipment. For example, balance beams and teacher created obstacle courses may be offered for large motor development.
Water Play – POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 CDC GUIDELINES
There is a water table in the classroom for children to engage in learning activities through play. During water play, children are involved in active experiences with science and math concepts. Children with sores on their hands are not allowed to participate with others in the water table to ensure that non-infectious diseases are spread. Children are not allowed to drink water during water play activities. When the activity period is complete, the water table is drained and refilled with fresh water before a new group of children comes to participate. Outdoor water play is limited to tubs and buckets or containers as well as the water table. We do not participate in swimming pool activities. Staff supervises all children by sight and sound in all areas with access to water in tubs, buckets, and water tables.
Quiet time provides some down-time for the students. In kindergarten, students choose what they would like to do for 30 minutes. All other students are required to take a brain break or rest quietly on their mats for 30 minutes both quieting their minds and their bodies so that they may recoup physical and mental energy used during their busy morning. Prek 2 & 3 students rest for approximately 90 minutes. After 30 minutes, if a child chooses not to rest, quiet activities are provided for students to engage in without disturbing their classmates.
Following are brief descriptions of special events and times throughout our school year:
- Octoberfest – A fall festival to bring the school, families, and community together.
- International Thanksgiving Feast – An opportunity to demonstrate gratitude and respect for all cultures.
- Christmas Program – A time to show our knowledge and appreciation for the birth of Christ.
- End of Year Promotion Ceremony – A time to celebrate moving on or up!
- Field Trips – A time to enhance the absorption of concepts and skills taught in the classroom. We will take virtual trips, walking trips, and bring organizations into the center throughout the year. Kindergarten students will participate in at least one field trip per quarter.
We endeavor in our students’ first years of formal learning to offer a happy experience so that children will believe that learning is fun, and can be used to enhance their lives and the lives of others.
Community Service – POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 CDC GUIDELINES
Kindergarten and First Grade students visit Senior Centers to bring Christmas cheer through songs, dance, and role play, and collect food and supplies for the homeless. During the summer camp, students engage in fundraiser activity and decide what charity they would like to donate to the homeless or armed forces.
Before & After Care
The Extended Day (before and after care) program is designed to meet the needs of working parents. Extended Day provides the opportunity for children to arrive at 6:30 a.m. and to remain engaged until 6:00 p.m. for no additional charge.
The Extended Day program is staffed with highly qualified teachers who are trained to meet the needs of individual children. The morning session provides students with a choice of resting, reading, music and movement, and crafts. The after-school session includes snack time, STEM, Music and Art Appreciation, Technology, homework, receive tutorial services in the core subjects (reading and math), and enjoy indoor/outdoor play. At Blue Ribbon Results, Extended Day allows working parents to provide for their families while knowing that their child is having an awesome experience in a loving and nurturing environment.
Morning Extended Care
6:30 am – 9:00 am
Quiet Time / Prepare Snack / Role Play / Crafts / Table Games
After School Care
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Organized Group Games / Evening Snack Time / Role Play / Crafts / Music and Movement