First Step Brochure
FIRST STEPS Some features and ideas you will see and why we do what we do. Creativity is at its peak during the early childhood years of birth through age five. Social-emotional well-being is wired in the brain between birth and age four. Imagination play helps to organize more complex mental and emotional patterns develops between ages 2 and 5. Interactive communication accelerates the development of creativity. Between birth and five is the most fertile time in life for development of vocabulary and is the most receptive for hearing sounds. Math, music, and spatial skills are related to one another and located in approximately the same location in the brain. Seeing patterns in math activities develops more rational understanding of math. Math by rout memorization is stored in the lowest functioning part of the brain. Singing increases oxygen levels, alertness, and memory fixatives in the brain. Dancing, singing, and musical movement activity positively affect patterns, language, meter, tone, and tempo experience and knowledge, as well as self-confidence while providing opportunity for reinforcing all areas of the curriculum. Motor development becomes wired in the first two years with refinement between ages 3 and 5. Gross motor develops first in arms, legs, and torso followed by fine motor development about age 4. Physical movement supports the mental processes. Young children have a strong tendency to be natural scientists eager to discover all they can about the world in which they live. Exploring, manipulating, asking questions, cause and effects relationships, consequences, and problem solving; all these investigative activities to learn how to gather information, express results, as well as make informed decisions. “ How” and “ Why” of everything comes into science study. The study of science does not come in isolation, but fully integrated with all areas of a curriculum and life itself. The brain “ feeds” on problem solving and is constantly searching for patterns. Problem solving and self-esteem go hand in hand. Cause and effect, and problem solving are primary cognitive goals during the pre-school years. Transition activities and time allow the brain time to adjust from one focus to another. A reasonable time standard is around five minutes in pre-school for a normal active pre-schooler. To give you an idea what we do in FIRST STEPS, these are some of the research based data which we used to develop and adapt our FIRST STEPS curriculum and activities to meet the needs of the Khmer pre-schooler. This is why we do not just copy a text or program which is based in and on another cultural setting different from what we have challenging before us here in Cambodia. Ultimate goal: To have success in each student’s educational pursuit. Advantages of a Pre-K program like FIRST STEPS FIRST STEPS is based on sound experience and research of Pre-K programs in the United States for over fifty years, adapted to fit the specific experience and needs of pre-school Khmer children. The one standout feature is student participations in a “doing” atmosphere and learning environment. The following examples of research data shows how well a well-run and involved activities program where students participate continuously all throughout the school day benefits educational excellence and predicts continued educational success throughout a student’s life. From longitudinal studies* we learn results which far exceed the costs. Some of the results from the research show the advantage of programs like FIRST STEPS as opposed to non-participating students as follows: Short term gains: • Vocabulary scores 51% higher gains. • By third grade student are 3 months ahead • Print awareness – 85% increase (letter recognition, letter sounds, book concepts) (print awareness is not writing alphabet letters) • Math gains – 44% • Reading for first grade 81% vs. 60% for non-participation. • Applied problem-solving 54% gain vs. only 6% • 82% higher scores on third grade readiness Long term gains: • 24% vs. 16% passing literacy and math tests • 24% to 60% less special education placement • graduation rates female 84% vs. 32% males 65% vs. 45% *Data from longitudinal studies: High/Scope Perry Preschool Project (over 40 years); Carolina Abecedarian Earl Childhood Project; and Chicago Child-Parent Centers
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