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Learning Without Tears on Academics in Early Education

Learning Without Tears on Academics in Early Education

This past week at Joshua Early Childhood Center (JECC), two of our early childhood educators hosted a training on the curriculum Learning Without Tears (LWT). The Buell Foundation generously funded JECC with a grant to attend a full day training on the curriculum. Scout, our general education teacher in Joshua Academy, and Allie, one of our early childhood special education teachers in Joshua Early Intervention, attended the training and brought back their recommendations on how to include some best practices into our programming at JECC.

Learning Without Tears is a curriculum that focuses on providing developmentally appropriate instruction in handwriting, literacy, and math for students from Pre-K through 5th grade. The early learning portion of the curriculum has suggestions for dozens of academic activities to implement in the preschool classroom. For example, teaching children to write their own name and the names of friends before targeting specific letters can facilitate greater interest in writing.

LWT also recommends using smaller, broken crayons to help develop grasp for early writers.

All of our teachers agreed that making learning fun is one of our primary focuses for our typically developing students and our students with disabilities: this proved to be our biggest interest in the training.

In the name of fun, Learning Without Tears uses paint, sand, and other sensory tools to teach handwriting, literacy, and math skills when teaching young children.

They also have interactive games such as Mat Man where students can learn how to draw a person with the help of a catchy song and some visual aids.

Another engaging feature of the curriculum is all of the materials provided! There are wooden block pieces that children can put together to create letters, magnet boards to draw letters, and workbooks with pages and pages of ideas for teaching and lesson planning.

A big takeaway for all of our teachers was learning more about what’s expected for children academically at different ages. Below are some basic guidelines when looking to see if children are on track academically.

Some important things to note when looking at this chart are that all students develop at different rates, students with disabilities will often need greater support in various areas depending on their needs, and that every student is a unique individual with strengths in a variety of areas! Our founders said it best in one of our original Joshua School Philosophies: “honor each unique mind, body, and spirit,” because every child is different and learns at her own pace. Also, remember that a child’s chronological age and developmental age can be different, especially if a child has a developmental disability. If your child is not hitting these milestones, you can always talk to your child’s teacher if there is not already a learning plan, education plan, or treatment plan in place for your child. Just remember: it does NOT mean your child needs early intervention if they are not hitting these milestones. These are a guideline and not a rule.

Developmental Progressions for Academics




How Can Parents Help Support?

3 Year Olds

- 40-200 words

- 3 word phrases

- Counts to 10

- 4+ piece puzzles

- Holds writing utensil in palm

- Copies vertical & horizontal lines

- Read aloud!

- Sing songs with your children

- Build motor skills with playdough

4 Year Olds

- 200-400 words

- speaking in sentences

- Counts to 20

- Recognizes #s 1-5 in any order

- Emerging mature grasp

- Copies lines, crossed lines, & circles

- Use smaller crayons to support grasp

- Count objects during play

5 Year Olds

- 1,500+ words

- speaking in longer sentences

- Counts to 50+

- Recognizes #s up to 20 in any order

- Mature grasp

- Copies circle, cross, square, triangle

- Writing backwards is still typical

- Talk about words in the environment

- Encourage oral storytelling

For example, some children might not have the strongest writing skills going into Kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean we need to pressure them to develop those skills overnight or correct all of their writing mistakes. All children are in the process of learning at their own rate, and parents and teachers alike here to help them!

Here is a beautiful quote to illustrate this point:

The Joshua Early Childhood team had so much fun learning about this new resource, and we are excited to get some new ideas, lessons, and activities rolling in our classrooms. Look out for an update later this month on how we’re doing!

Read more blog posts on The Joshua Early Childhood Blog Page.

Please leave any comments below! We’d love to talk more about curricula, academics, and developmental progressions with you!

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