Academic Philosophies

Heartland Child Development offers a theme-based curriculum that meets Iowa's Early Learning Standards and national ITERS or ECERS benchmarks.  Lesson plans, art/writing and center activities/materials are focused around a designated theme (and letter of the week for the PreKindergarten classes).  Themes change every one – two weeks.

Academic programs include:

Developmental Care programs include:

(Class placement is determined by age and/or development. Class placement is determined by directors.)

Heartland strives to:

Research proves that children learn through play.  It is our role and responsibility at Heartland Child Development to provide children with appropriate activities/materials and to guide them through organized centers to promote an educational experience.

Free Play – Free play provides opportunities for learning and social interaction.  Self-directed centers of interest are set up to allow children to independently choose activities that help them separate and adjust to the beginning and transition from structure at the end of the day..

Group Time – Group time consists of a more structured group setting where children are asked to practice self-control, increase attention span, and develop listening skills.  Children participate in discussions by listening first, then responding by taking turns, show & tell (develops language, cooperative skills and builds self esteem), Pledge of Allegiance, sing songs, fingerplays, listen to stories and talk about the theme of the week.  PreKindergarten children take part in calendar time (rote counting and number recognition) and letter of the week (visual and beginning sounds).

Activity Centers (as appropriate for the class level) – The activities described here are available during center times.  These areas provide opportunities for many types of creative and educational play.  Some center materials are rotated daily … some weekly.

Language – Language Arts is an integral part of every activity during the preschool day, but not necessarily a center on its own.  A whole language approach promotes verbal and written contexts in all aspects of the curriculum.  Children are encouraged to tell stories about their art work, their activities and their feelings.  Written stories and journals in scribble form are the beginning of a positive attitude toward language.  Teachers strive to help children expand their vocabulary, proper usage of words and enunciation.

Math – Math activities are opportunities for children to become familiar with numerical concepts such as counting, number recognition, one-to-one correspondence, more or less than, and grouping objects into sets.  Projects are designed using concrete objects to ease understanding of concepts which prepare children for future math learning.  (Typically, math concepts are incorporated into all centers, activities and group time.  It is not an independent activity center.)

Science – Science projects allow children to explore, touch, examine, question, take risks and discover. 

Small Group Activity/Writing – Teachers work with students in small groups on planned projects.  At this time, children work to develop fine motor skills such as holding a paintbrush/pencil/marker/crayon and cutting paper.  Students also work on following simple, multi-stepped directions and writing/recongnizing their name in print.

Creative Art – This center allows children to work independently expanding their creative expression and imagination, as well as discovering aesthetic pleasure from art itself.  Students are provided with materials to create in their own way, in their own time. Some art may appear to have an "unclear" identity.  Ask the "artist" to explain his/her masterpiece.

Sensory Table – Sensory perception is encouraged by use of water/sand tables that may be filled with pasta, rice, beans or even potting soil.  Children learn about the physical world by pouring, comparing, measuring, experimenting and introduces them to the wonders of math and senses.

Large Motor – The skills developed in this area involve large muscle control during running, climbing, and pulling activities.  This takes place inside and outside the classroom.  Balls, tricycles, climber, sandbox and playhouse are also a part of the outside play experience.

Block and Carpet – Constructive play allows the children to create structures of their own design while developing concepts of size, numbers, shape, and weight.  Eye-hand coordination and a sense of accomplishment are also fostered in this area.  Other carpet activities may include materials that promote imagination, language skills, and social/emotional development.

Books/Library – This area introduces students to literacy and the love of books.  During this quiet time, the child develops cognitive learning and language skills.

Cooking – During cooking activities children measure, count and follow directions.  A very basic introduction to math.

Dramatic Play – This area promotes creative expression and imagination, social role play, problem solving, self-esteem, verbal skills and storytelling.

Small Motor Manipulatives – These table-top activities further allow children to develop manipulative skills, fine motor control and eye-hand coordination.  Some examples of small motor activities include play-doh, lacing cards, stringing beads, geoboards, and puzzles.  Students also further develop their knowledge of shapes, colors, numbers and letters.

Clean Up/Snack – During this time children share in responsibility for cleaning up the preschool.  Self-help skills such as washing hands, pouring milk, and cleaning up after themselves are developed.  Snack is also a social time where children learn tables manners and visit with each other and the teachers.

Show & Tell – While children share their own special items from home during this activity, it is also a learning experience.  Show and Tell allows children to develop language and cooperative skills in a familiar social context. 

Music – Music activities are designed to help children explore sound and experience enjoyment through singing, listening and moving to music.  Auditory memory and discrimination are increased while language development is enhanced by using instruments, recordings and voices.

Student Assessments and Conferences – An initial observation is completed at the beginning of the school year.  A formal evaluation is completed at the end of the calendar year and again at the end of the school year.  Parent/teacher conferences are conducted in January and allow teachers to visit individually with families to discuss developmental strengths and challenges of each child.