Never too young to start learning.
Middle Country, unlike most Districts across Long Island, offers a free Universal Pre-K (UPK) program to every four year old in our District. In Middle Country, our half-day UPK program is available to all District families without restriction. A “lottery” is used for our full-day UPK program. Thanks to grant money, well over 400 four-year olds are able to experience our full day program the most on Long Island. There are four buildings across our District that house our UPK students: Hawkins Path, Bicycle Path, North Coleman, and Unity Drive. While each building strives to be unique in its own way, the core aspects of the UPK curriculum and programs are consistent across buildings.
In Middle Country, the UPK curriculum has been developed as a fully integrated part of the overall learning paradigm offered our students. Referred to as “little scientists,” Middle Country preschoolers learn to observe and note changes through discussions of the weather and through “outdoor gardens,” where seeds are planted and grown. Building upon our hands-on approach to learning, our little scientists then harvest what they planted, which could include beans, spinach, and lettuce (maybe we should also call them “little farmers!”), getting to enjoy the fruits, or vegetables, of their labor.
The UPK curriculum is structured based upon the NYS foundation for the Common Core, which includes math, ELA, and social development. We teach your children how to write through a program called handwriting without tears. For youngsters with English as a new language, there is a full immersion program. Items in the classroom are labeled and those just learning English are given special attention. All the UPK standards are age appropriate. For us in Middle Country, the most important aspect of our UPK program is that we are teaching these young children the love of learning while having fun, too.
Some other wonderful learning experiences our preschoolers have include watching the birth cycle of chicks, ducks, stickbugs, ladybugs, and butterflies. Music and movement sessions allow our preschoolers to get up and dance, providing a break in the lessons. Preschoolers are also introduced to singing, drawing and acting. Outside partners come in to provide entertaining and educational programs. Stony Brook EMT volunteers offer the “teddy bear boo boo” program where preschoolers get to patch up their teddy bears and learn not to be frightened of paramedics. Sweetbriar Nature Center offers an animal interview to teach these young learners about wildlife, and Benner’s Farm holds a puppet show. In other words, in Middle Country, the UPK program is exciting, entertaining, always evolving and inspiring inquisitiveness and establishing a solid educational foundation for your children.
Parent involvement is a huge part of all students’ educational experience, especially at the pre-kindergarten level. Field trips to the public library provide an opportunity for both students and parents to learn about the resources the library has to offer and helps encourage a young person’s love of reading. Parent advisory boards meet twice a year to discuss upcoming programs and ideas for improvement. Class moms serve as guest readers and help with activities in class.
With the involvement of parents and community, Middle Country UPK students are immersed in a tight-knit network of caring adults and peers that fosters a thirst for knowledge and a sense of connection. In Middle Country, this support system doesn’t end with your child’s pre-kindergarten experience, but continues, growing and evolving with your child’s needs throughout their Middle Country public school years.