Schools and childcare centers that want to improve the language-skills curriculum for preschoolers will be interested in SMU’s pre-school teacher training program which is offered on a contract basis. The SMU program uses the Language Enrichment Activities Program (LEAP) curriculum which is designed specifically for the unique education needs of preschool children. The program was developed in response to a request to create a language-rich reading program for a pre-school in Dallas, Texas.
LEAP was developed by SMU’s Learning Therapy program based on extensive research, classroom experience, and field work with preschool children. LEAP consists of teacher training, teaching by volunteers, and take-home lessons to be completed with the help of parents. At the heart of the program is reading aloud from books and including a variety of language-related activities on a daily basis. Other aspects of LEAP include games and photographs used to build vocabulary and expressive language skills.
Teachers incorporate fun learning activities throughout the day such as counting and word games, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. Teachers are also trained to speak to the pre-schoolers as often as possible throughout the day using correct grammar and a rich vocabulary. Studies show that children learn long-term written language skills best through the use of an interactive, sequential, phonological approach such as LEAP.
LEAP’s primary goal is to prepare pre-school children for kindergarten at an emotionally, socially, and academically age-appropriate level of development. The skills developed in LEAP increase a child’s chances of succeeding in kindergarten. Each pre-schoolers progress is documented with pre & post LEAP assessments.
The pre-school children who have been through the LEAP program have shown significantly higher than average scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. And the pre-school children who completed the LEAP program in Dallas have performed better than their peers in kindergarten. Furthermore, studies have shown that children who excel in kindergarten are very likely to continue that pattern of success throughout their academic careers.
SMU’s Pre-school teacher training program teaches the LEAP program on a consultation basis to teachers, schools, and child-care centers. The program can be taught either in a three credit hour college course or in a 20 hours abbreviated workshop over 3 days. The minimum class size is 10 participants. Each school or child-care center that contracts to be taught the LEAP program is required to purchase one set of LEAP materials for each classroom represented.
It’s vital that preschool children are able to identify primary colors, know the alphabet, and demonstrate the ability to count to 20. These skills are all precursors to the development of reading & writing skills and critical success indicators for academic achievement through out high school and beyond. Literacy is vital to success in life no matter what career path is ultimately chosen