NCA believes children are active participants in the learning process. Teachers guide hands-on experiences that foster creativity and experimentation in a natural environment.
In developing our approach to learning, we utilize a variety of influences based on research and assessment.
NCA’s Approach to Learning utilizes the following:
- Emergent Curriculum
- Developmentally Appropriate Practices from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- Reggio Emilia approach
- Arizona Guidelines and Early Learning Standards
NCA utilizes the Arizona Early Learning Standards as a framework to ensure children are prepared success in Kindergarten. Each experience is intentional to reinforce learning concepts and practice of needed skills.
We provide materials and opportunities for children to learn and explore that will enhance growth in all the developmental domains as well as prepare them to for the future.
NCA’s Learning Domains include:
- Social and Emotional Development
- Literacy and Language Development
- Cognitive Development including Math, Science, Social Studies
- Physical Development including Fine and Gross Motor Skills
- Health and Safety
- Creative Expression
In partnership with the standards, we use an emergent curriculum. This is a way of planning based on the children’s natural curiosity and interests along with their teachers’ guidance. In this way, children learn the needed skills through ideas that are important to them. When teachers see a child’s interest “emerging,” they observe, document, and brainstorm how to include all the learning domains.
Recent brain research shows children learn through play and hands-on experiences as opposed to rote memorization and drills. Through play, children learn to solve problems, interact with their peers, develop hypotheses and conclusions, practice skills, and learn self-regulation. These aptitudes are essential for later success in school and life.
NCA is a Reggio Emilia inspired program where children and teachers explore the learning process together. This approach to learning encompasses children using all their senses to learn about the world around them. Creativity is fostered in every aspect of our program so children can learn to express themselves in many different ways. We believe children are competent, strong, inventive, and full of ideas in regards to learning. We try and bring the natural world into the classroom to make it feel warm and inviting.
At Natural Choice Academy the Teacher, the Child, and the Environment are all educators. This daily collaboration prepares our children for kindergarten and the future.
Teachers observe children to identify and assess their level of development and to adapt the environment to meet the needs of the children in their classroom. By focusing on quality interactions, teachers create nurturing, respectful, and caring relationships that foster the development of healthy self-esteems while supporting the learning process.
NCA also utilizes Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), a research based developmental and social-emotional screening for children from one month to 5 ½ years. ASQ looks at strengths and areas of improvement, educates parents about developmental milestones, and incorporates parents’ expert knowledge about their children. The American Academy of Neurology also uses ASQ as a high quality developmental screening tool.
CLASSROOM INFORMATION AND SCHEDULES
Recent research has shown that strong, supportive relationships are essential to fostering learning in young children. NCA incorporates many strategies so children have the opportunity to bond with their teachers and their peers. It is best for children to develop their social and educational skills as a class that advances together.
Children remain with the same teachers and children for an academic year until “promotion” in the fall rather than changing classrooms on their birthday. Each August children move as a group to the next classroom to progress through their learning journey. Similar to elementary school, children’s ages at the start of the fall school year guide what classroom is best for their growth and development.
We offer 2, 3, and 5 day a week schedules. Our full-day program is available for all our children, infants through pre-kindergarten. Our half-day program is available for our 2/3, 3/4, and pre-kindergarten classes.
Children enrolled in our 2 day program come on Tuesdays and Thursdays while children enrolled in our 3 day program come on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
As the toddlers begin to sprout their need for independence, the teachers help foster this growth. In the toddler classroom, routines help create stability as self-help and socialization skills develop.
As the children grow, so does their wonder about the world. The two and three year old teachers guide sensory exploration, motor skills, and problem solving ability. As language skills bloom, teachers are challenged to continuously answer …”Why?”.
Imagination and creativity grow by leaps and bounds at this age, as do children’s physical abilities. Teachers help to foster these along with early writing, reading, math, science, and decision making skills.
Reading, writing, science, and math concepts are learned through structured activities as well as play, exploration, and experiments guided by the teachers. Upon graduating, your child will be socially, emotionally, physically, and academically prepared for Kindergarten.
"My husband and I picked Natural Choice Academy after visiting many nearby preschools. We loved how clean and organized the grounds were. We also loved knowing our son would be…"-Lia T. | Phoenix
"My daughter is excited to go to her classroom each week, and loves talking about her teachers and the friends she is making. We feel comfortable knowing she is in…"- Kari R. | Phoenix
"Since starting at NCA two months ago, my daughter's language skills, coordination, and all around "happy meter" have sky-rocketed. She was attending a different preschool prior to NCA and the…"- Laura M. | Phoenix