Learning Enrichment at an Accelerated Pace (LEAP) serves as a bridge class between kindergarten and first grade. This class is comprised of two different groups of students. One group includes students who have completed kindergarten and need another year for academic growth or maturity before moving on to first grade. The other group includes students who have completed preschool or Pre-K and have already mastered the concepts needed for the kindergarten class. The curriculum for LEAP is more challenging than our kindergarten program. Since LEAP students do not have a rest time in the afternoon, the entire day is spent focusing on academics and social interaction.
A Biblical Foundation for Early Childhood Education is published by YWAM’s University of the Nations. It was designed to speak to the heart of young children by nurturing their relationships with God. The purpose of the curriculum is to instill Biblical values deep into a child’s heart, to build a Biblical foundation precept by precept and to create an environment where children are loved and valued. Four major units are taught: Knowing God Our Father, Knowing Jesus and God With Us, Knowing Jesus Because of the Holy Spirit, and Training in Righteousness. This curriculum leads nicely into the curriculum used in grades 1-5. Weekly Kindergarten/LEAP chapels also help instill a desire for worship.
LEAP students participate in guided reading groups using the Wright Group’s Gear Up! guided reading series and the Wright Group’s Take-Two’s reading series. These series provide a good balance of fiction and non-fiction selections using leveled readers. Students experience learning in small groups with individualized attention. The five components of reading are taught explicitly with this curriculum. Phonics, phonemic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency are all addressed. It is our policy at Northland to provide opportunities for students to excel in areas where they are ready to be academically challenged.
In the first 9 weeks, LEAPsters use the Neuhaus Reading Readiness curriculum. It places students into small groups for direct instruction in English alphabet. Word play, patterns, and hands-on activities are utilized to ensure all students master the skills of the alphabet which is the foundation for reading.
Northland recently adopted the Wright Group’s Fluency First program to be used during the fall & spring semester of LEAP. This program is based on The Fluency Development Lesson, which was highly researched by Drs. Timothy Rasinski and Nancy Padak of Kent State University. Daily lessons use simple and brief reading selections that students practice multiple times before performing for their peers. Teachers assess students on reading rate, accuracy, expression, volume, clarity, eye contact and gestures. Vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and word recognition skills are the focus of this fun and motivating curriculum.
Northland recently adopted the Houghton Mifflin English program. This program is very age-appropriate. Students are taught skills that form the basic foundation for writing and communicating. Parts of speech, rhyming words, listening, and basic sentences are introduced. LEAP students use writing curriculum incorporated from the Houghton Mifflin English program. Students are provided with multiple examples of excellent writing by published authors of children’s literature. Various genres are taught throughout the year through the use of guided instruction. Touchstone texts, mini-lessons, feedback and assessments give students the best environment possible for the Writing Workshop experience. Students produce a “published” book at the end of the year.
Northland recently adopted the McGraw My Math First Grade curriculum for LEAP. Students are guided to an understanding of patterns, shapes and relationships to build a foundation for higher math. Manipulatives provide a developmentally appropriate method for reinforcing the concepts being taught.
LEAP students use the Scott Foresman Science Diamond Edition published in 2008. Units of study include life science, physical science, and earth science. Science is taught from a Christian perspective using labs and hands-on activities.
LEAP students use the MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Social Studies curriculum. A basic introduction to life in our society comes through the use of bulletin board activities, songs and games. Students are able to grasp basic social concepts that are taught using all learning modalities.
In Kindergarten/LEAP music class, students are encouraged to find their different voices such as singing, speaking, whispering, and shouting. The Musicplay curriculum uses nursery rhymes and traditional songs to help students find the beat and express themselves through song. Kindergarten/LEAP students perform in a Christmas musical, Western Day square dancing, and a spring musical.
Art is taught by an experienced at instructor two times per week. Students learn basic lines, shapes and colors. Art is also integrated into the regular classroom curriculum. Bible crafts and seasonal art projects allow students to be creative on a weekly basis. Students enjoy making Christmas crafts during the holiday season. Special projects include Rodeo Art drawings for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The elementary Physical Education program was developed by SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) and is taught by two highly-qualified coaches with many years of teaching and coaching experience. PE classes are designed to develop skills that enhance learning in the classroom. All students participate in 30 minutes of PE classes daily. Classes are taught in the school’s gymnasium and are highly structured in nature. At Northland we believe that daily physical activity is essential for good health and well-being. LEAP students continue to hone large and fine motor skills through various games and activities.
Northland integrates the use of computers and technology into the regular curriculum. LEAPsters have access to iPads in the classroom as well as a fully equipped iPad lab, providing an iPad for each individual. Accelerated Reader and other educational software and websites are incorporated into the curriculum.