Preschool Update

Berkeley Township School District

Berkeley Township School District welcomes three and four year old full day preschoolers

On September 4, 2019, Clara B. Worth School, H & M Potter School and Bayville School welcomed three and four year old preschool students into our new preschool classrooms within the district. Students were greeted by Principals, staff, teachers and classroom assistants.

What do preschoolers do all day?

Berkeley Township School District provides a developmentally appropriate preschool program for its youngest learners. Every part of their day is aligned to the NJ Preschool Teaching and Learning standards and the NJ Preschool Program Implementation Guidelines.


Our preschool program uses a state approved curriculum called The Creative Curriculum. Students have access to interest centers in the classroom everyday and learn through 6-8 week long hands on studies. Every classroom provides a full hour of play within the interest centers.


The Creative Curriculum includes developmentally appropriate goals and objectives for children within four main categories of interest: social/emotional, physical, cognitive and language. Our preschools use exploration and discovery as a way of learning, enabling children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills. The Creative Curriculum is inclusive of all children—those developing typically, children with disabilities and English language learners.


The interest centers you will find in every classroom are:


  • blocks
  • art
  • music
  • writing
  • sand/water
  • library
  • science
  • dramatic play


Preschoolers also get outside gross motor time on the playground everyday. Every playground has climbing equipment and a playground full of gross motor materials such as tricycles, hula hoops, balls, basketball net, jump ropes and much more! Preschoolers also receive a scheduled gross motor lesson everyday!


In addition to all this, preschoolers have breakfast, lunch, rest time and many learning activities built into their day.

Elements of High Quality Preschool

There are many elements of a quality preschool program that are provided to preschool students in Berkeley Township.


Support Staff

  • Amy Coppinger, Early Childhood Supervisor
  • Heather Ettari and Danielle Austin, Preschool Master Teachers
  • JoAnn Donachy, Preschool Intervention and Referral Team Specialist
  • Alyssa Mancini, Preschool Social Worker


Performance Based Assessment

Teaching Strategies GOLD is an authentic, ongoing observational system for assessing children from birth through kindergarten. Teaching Strategies GOLD is based on 38 objectives for development and learning that include predictors of school success and are based on school readiness standards.


Professional Development

All preschool teachers are trained in the Creative Curriculum and the performance based assessment- Teaching Strategies GOLD. Master teachers and PIRT specialist receive ongoing training through the Department of Education seminars.


The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team

The Preschool Intervention and Referral Team (PIRT) is in place to assist preschool staff in addressing children’s challenging behaviors. Through the development and implementation of an intervention plan and positive behavior support plan, teachers are given strategies and interventions that address a variety of persistent challenging behaviors in young children. The primary role of the PIRT is to provide support and suggested interventions to teachers so that all children can succeed within the classroom.


Screening

Preschool program regulations require the administration of a developmentally-based early childhood screening assessment. Berkeley Township preschool program administers the Early Screening Inventory-Revised to each child upon entry (first 6-8 weeks) into the preschool program.


School Nurses

The school nurse is a health services specialist who assists students, families and staff in attaining and maintaining optimal health. School nurses strengthen and facilitate the educational process by improving and protecting the health status of children and staff. Nurses who work with preschool children and their families provide the following services:

• Conduct health screenings (vision, hearing, dental, height, and weight screenings)

• Monitor and follow up on individual child health records

• Document and communicate with staff and parents about allergies or other health issues

• Assist parents in locating appropriate medical and health resources

• Provide health-related training to staff and parents


Preschool Social Worker

The preschool social worker collaborates with the classroom teachers, master teachers and is community parent involvement specialist. The preschool social worker communicates with our families to determine individual needs, provide advocacy services and help obtain available community services. The preschool social worker sends family surveys in order to design and provide family workshops based on identified needs and topics.

The history and future of Preschool in Berkeley Township

Preschool has been offered in Berkeley Township for the past 20 years. In 2015, Berkeley Township received the four year Preschool Expansion Grant providing income eligible families free full day preschool. In 2018, Berkeley Township received Preschool Education Expansion Aid providing free full day preschool to four year old students in Berkeley. For this school year we expanded to 28 classrooms providing three and four year old Berkeley residents free full day preschool.


The New Jersey Department of Education has very specific guidelines and standards that must be upheld in our district classrooms and any future partnership which would include:


  • New Jersey state certified teachers

  • New Jersey approved preschool curriculum

  • 750 square feet of teaching space

  • Maximum class size of 15 students


Continued Expansion for 2020-2021 School Year


Next year it is our plan to continue a free full day preschool program for eligible three and four year old children who reside within Berkeley Township.


  • We will continue our collaboration with Head Start.
  • Potential partnerships with private preschools will continue to be explored.

  • The Berkeley Township School District has no plans to eliminate, modify or reduce any current services.

  • During the 2020-2021 school year, we will evaluate our three and four year old preschool population to determine if additional space will be required in the future.

Where are the worksheets?

All of our classrooms are diving into their curriculum studies! However, many parents ask our teachers many times in the beginning of the year "where are the worksheets?" Our answer is simply that worksheets do not provide meaningful experiences for young learners. Worksheets do not ask higher order thinking skills or teach what a child is developmentally ready to learn.


By using a hands on approach to learning, we give kids the opportunity to test the concepts in different situations, so they can understand how this concept can be applied to different areas of their life. Hands on learning gives children the opportunity to use and refine their problem solving, creativity and critical thinking skills.


The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) released a Developmentally Appropriate Practice position statement you can find here.