Curriculum And Assessments At Walnut Creek Academy

Child development is never a constant. Each age needs new ideas. New experiences. And new challenges.

Walnut Creek Academy doesn’t just emphasize academic excellence. We foster it through programs such as our award winning Creative Curriculum ® program for Preschool and our innovative Bible Project. But whether it’s teaching your children about the positive values of creative expression or recognizing them through our monthly Student Spotlight assemblies, we know that children need a foundation based on both a healthy self esteem, imagination and physical development in addition to their academic experience.

Age Structure & Ratios

Our infant, toddler and preschool age programs follow a unique structure designed to mark specific milestones in your child’s development. They’re divided into seven specific categories:

  • Little Dreamers:  6 weeks to 12 months

  • Explorers: 12 months to 18 months

  • Discoverers: 18 months to 24 months

  • Imagineers: 24 to 36 months

  • Creators: 36 to 48 months

  • Inventors (4): 42/48 months-60 months

  • Inventors (5): 60 months until Kindergarten (Walnut Creek Academy does allow testing for early Kindergarten enrollment. Please consult with your child’s teacher if you feel they are both academically and socially prepared to do so.)

In addition, each age program is staffed by a ratio of teachers and assistants to students in compliance with state regulation:

  • Little Dreamers, up to 1:4

  • Explorers, up to 1:5

  • Discoverers, up to 1:9

  • Imagineers, up to 1:11

  • Creators, up to 1:15

  • Inventors, up to 1:18

  • Kindergarten – 5th Grade, up to 16 (Maximum class size is 16 students)

  • (During nap times and other group activities the ratios may differ but will not exceed official licensing standards.)

Curriculum And Assessments

Little Dreamers (Infants 6 Weeks To 12 Months)

Walnut Creek Academy welcomes infants as early as 6 weeks old. While it may not seem like there’s a lot which can be done to introduce academics at this age, the key to educational development means recognizing that a solid foundation must be laid first. And while babies need the most love and encouragement, they also need mental and creative stimulation. We provide both in a fun and nurturing environment, with plenty of music and songs. We also introduce sign language at this age to help make communication clear, accurate and easily understandable.

What can you expect from our Little Dreamers program?:

  • A nurturing environment focused on love, trust and bonding
  • Baby sign language to gain a headstart on early communication
  • Daily activities to help support healthy and natural physical development

You’ll find some of the basic milestones we use to assess developmental readiness below. Please note that all children progress at their own pace. An infant lagging behind in any of these areas is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Motion

  • Raises head and chest while laying on stomach (3 mos.)
  • Pulls to sitting with no head lag (5 mos.)
  • Transfers objects from hand to hand (6-7 mos.)
  • Gets to sitting position without assistance (8-10 mos.)
  • Crawls forward on belly (8-10 mos.)
  • Gets from sitting to crawling or prone position (10-12 mos.)
  • May walk two or three steps without support

Vision

  • Watches face intently (2-3 mos.)
  • Follows moving objects (2 mos.)
  • Tracks moving objects with ease (4-7 mos.)
  • Grasps objects dangling in front of them (5-6 mos.)
  • Looks for fallen toys (5-7 mos.)

Language

  • Distinguishes emotions by tone of voice (4-7 mos.)
  • Responds to sound by making sounds (4-6 mos.)
  • Syllable repetition begins (5-7 mos.)
  • Responds to simple verbal requests (4-6 mos.)
  • Makes simple gestures (8-10 mos.)
  • Babbles “dada” and “mama” (8-10 mos.)

Cognition

  • Finds partially hidden objects (6-7 mos.)
  • Explores objects in many different ways (8-10 mos.)
  • Finds hidden objects easily (10-12 mos.)
  • Imitates gestures (9-12 mos.)

Hearing And Speech

  • Smiles at the sound of voice (2-3 mos.)
  • Cooing noises and vocal play (3 mos.)
  • Responds to sound (1-3 mos.)
  • Startles at loud noises (1-3 mos.)

Social And Emotional

  • Begins to develop a social smile (1-3 mos.)
  • Enjoys playing (may cry when playing stops) (2-3 mos.)
  • Interested in mirror images (5-7 mos.)
  • Shyness with strangers (8-12 mos.)
  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys (8-12 mos.)

Explorers (Toddlers 12 To 18 Months)

At this age, a healthy physical development is not only normal in toddlers but encouraged. They have a lot of energy to burn off and need to support it by special emphasis on nutrition and diet. But they’re also developing new mental activity. Impressions are growing sharper and more focused. Associations are forming which demand extra guidance and attention. They’re taking their first steps towards the next developmental level, both physically and cognitively. And it’s precisely at this transition period where the introduction of a basic curriculum is being introduced. Our Explorers program includes:

  • Our Creative Curriculum® program for Toddlers. This is part of the foundation for our classroom environment and zll lesson plans. It consists of interactive learning games promoting early childhood learning through play and daily activities.
  • Our toddler sign language program, where teachers encourage vocabulary through teaching and sign language.

You’ll find some of the basic milestones we use to assess developmental readiness below. Please note that all children progress at their own pace. A toddler lagging behind in any of these areas is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Motion

  • Walking alone (12-26 mos.)
  • Pulling toys behind them while walking (13-16 mos.)
  • Carrying large toys or several toys while walking (12-15 mos.)
  • Beginning to run stiffly (16-18 mos.)
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture unsupported (16-24 mos.)

Dexterity

  • Scribbling spontaneously (14-16 mos.)
  • Turning over container to pour out contents (12-18 mos.)

Language

  • Saying several single words (15-18 mos.)
  • Following simple one-step instructions (14-18 mos.)
  • Repeating words heard in conversations (16-18 mos.)

Discoverers (Toddlers 18 to 24 Months)

At Walnut Creek, we know that independence is a positive thing in a child’s life. Without it, there’s neither growth nor challenge. But independence needs to be nurtured proactively by a gentle and guiding hand. Too much independence and they’re likely be in over their heads. Too little and they’ll never learn the value of self discovery. Our Discoverers program is designed to encourage a toddler’s newfound sense of self determination, but always safely. And at this age, they’ll likely encounter no small number of emotions which are strange and which they can’t always express adequately. Our teachers guide them through this new and unusual emotional spectrum and help them express themselves constructively. Our Discoverers program includes:

  • Our Creative Curriculum® program for Toddlers. This is part of the foundation for our classroom environment and zll lesson plans. It consists of interactive learning games promoting early childhood learning through play and daily activities.
  • Our toddler sign language program, where teachers encourage vocabulary through teaching and sign language.
  • The Gospel Project. Our introductory biblical curriculum, combining interactive songs of worship, biblical stories and hands-on activities designed to instill an early understanding of the gospels in children

You’ll find some of the basic milestones we use to assess developmental readiness below. Please note that all children progress at their own pace. A toddler lagging behind in any of these areas is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Motion

  • Climbing up and down from furniture without assistance (16-24 mos.)
  • Learning to catch or throw a ball (18-24 mos.)
  • Walking up and down stairs with assistance (18-24 mos.)

Dexterity

  • Building a tower of four blocks or more (20-24 months)

Language

  • Pointing to an object when prompted (18-24 mos.)
  • Recognizing names of people or objects (18-24 mos.)
  • Using complex sentences of two or more words (18-24 mos.)

Cognition

  • Demonstrating an increased sense of independence (18-24 mos.)
  • Mimicking the behavior of others (18-24 mos.)
  • Beginning to sort by shapes and colors (20-24 mos.)
  • Showing enthusiasm towards other children (20-24 mos.)
  • Playing make-believe (20-24 mos.)

Imagineers (2 Year Olds)

It’s an incredible odyssey for a two year old. They’ve learned to express themselves in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible just six months ago. Their mental curiosity is boundless. And both their sense of creativity and their self esteem has been molded like a piece of clay. But their next challenge still lies ahead of them. Preschool. And that’s an adjustment that can be difficult to make. And it certainly isn’t always smooth sailing. But our Imagineers program can guide them there, navigated by patience and understanding. The program includes:

  • Our Creative Curriculum® program for Preschool. As part of the foundation for our classroom environment and all lesson plans, children learn through discovery and exploration with an emphasis on stronger self esteem and social skills. In addition, it offers daily opportunities for teachers to individualize plans, creating a program that is flexible, creative and never stale or boring.
  • The Gospel Project. Our introductory biblical curriculum, combining interactive songs of worship, biblical stories and hands-on activities designed to instill a deeper understanding of the gospels in children
  • Personalized activities designed to boost self-certainty and confidence
  • Hands-on activities encouraging creativity, exploration and problem solving

You’ll find some of the basic milestones we use to assess developmental readiness below. Please note that all children progress at their own pace. A two year old lagging behind in any of these areas is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Mobility

  • Running with ease (24-26 mos.)
  • Climbing with ease (24-30 mos.)
  • Bending over without stumbling (24-30 mos.)
  • Walking up stairs using alternating feet for support (24-30 mos.)
  • Riding a tricycle with assistance (30-36 mos.)

Social And Emotional

  • A heightened maturity in emotional range (24-36 mos.)
  • Objecting to changes in routine (24-36 mos.)
  • Parting from parents without distress (by 36 mos.)

Dexterity

  • Screwing and unscrewing jar lids (24-30 mos.)
  • Turning book pages one at a time (24-30 mos.)
  • Building a tower of more than 6 blocks (24-30 mos.)
  • Holding a pencil for writing (30-36 mos.)
  • Making vertical, horizontal and circular strokes (30-36 mos.)

Language

  • Using pronouns such as I, you, me or we (24-30 mos.)
  • Understanding most basic sentences (24-40 mos.)
  • Identifying most common objects (26-32 mos.)
  • Knowing and saying their name, age and gender (30-36 mos.)
  • Their words can be easily understood, even by strangers (30-36 mos.)

Cognition

  • Completing puzzles with three or more pieces (24-36 mons.)
  • Playing make believe with dolls, animals and people (24-36 mos.)
  • Understanding basic math, such as the concept of two or three (26-32 mos.)
  • Sorting objects by color alone (30-36 mos.)

Early Education (Pre-K3, Pre-K4 And Pre-K5)

There’s no time like the present for you to become involved in your child’s education. The formative years of a child are the most critical. And at Walnut Creek Academy we believe in giving every parent the opportunity to actively engage with both your child and their teachers over which curriculum is appropriate for their development⁠—and what isn’t.

The Creative Curriculum ® For Preschool

Our Creative Curriculum® for Preschool is an award winning program designed to provide your preschool student with the necessary tools to unlock their full potential. It’s comprised of fine volumes which make up our core values and form the base of our knowledge and classroom activities. Richly embedded with teaching guides, practical activities and solutions and daily advice, it helps our teachers guide your children on the path to  confidence, creativity, and lifelong social skills.

Why Our Creative Curriculum© For Preschool?

  • It’s based on 38 uniform objectives fully aligned with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework, as well as early learning standards for every state

  • It combines both knowledge-building skills and practical resources to allow our educators to understand intuitively the “what” “why” and “how” of early childhood education

  • It’s flexible enough to allow for individualized instruction, helping our educators meet each child’s personal learning needs

  • It incorporates all areas of learning including math, technology, social skills and art throughout the course of the day

  • It’s designed to help educators assess the results in your child’s education through direct observation

  • It offers complete support for both English and bilingual learners, as well as guidance for working with both advanced learners and children with disabilities

  • It’s fully aligned with Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Frameworks, as well as state early learning standards

By working in harmony with different objectives (physical, mental, social, creative and problem solving development), our curriculum seeks to fuse these aspects to forge a more holistic understanding for both teachers and students of personal goals and needs.

Bilingual Resources

Walnut Creek Academy values diversity on both our curriculum and the children we teach. It’s one of our guiding principles. That’s why we teach basic Spanish vocabulary to all our children throughout the day. Not just as a core competency, but as one simple way they can learn to develop an appreciation for the diversity around them.

Infant Sign Language

We teach sign language to infants as early as six months to help strengthen a much deeper, non-verbal bond with parents and caregivers. More importantly, sign language gives toddlers a tool to make connections and associations before they even learn to speak, setting the stage for a much more appreciative learning experience in the future.

Faith Based Curriculum

As part of our commitment to faith based learning, Walnut Creek hosts The Gospel Project, a Christ-centered initiative that follows biblical narratives over a timeline. Through it, your child will:

  • Learn a deeper understanding of how the gospels interact with the passages they study
  • Understand the Bible in a creative multimedia environment, using video and apps
  • Be immersed in the gospels through direct interaction
  • Be provided with the building blocks that allow for a much deeper and transformative biblical experience

Lower School (Kindergarten – 5th Grade)

Academics should mean more to your children than a competitive atmosphere. It should embrace a values oriented worldview and a practical understanding of real world solutions. Unfortunately, both are often overlooked in many lower school environments as the focus is based more on standardized knowledge assessment and not on the particular needs of a student.

At Walnut Creek Academy, we believe that knowledge is a living entity. It must have deep meaning in order for it to become an organic part of your child’s life. Our teachers don’t simply read from a textbook. They make lessons come alive, informed by the values of the gospels and the word of God.

Our lower school curriculum covers a wide ground including phonics-based literacy, mathematics, science, history and the bible. But it also enriches through technology, music, art, physical education and Spanish. Once a week, we host age appropriate chapel services blending praise songs and hymns with biblical stories designed to inform moral character—all designed to nurture your child’s mind, creativity and spirit.

But we also nurture their self esteem. Through our monthly Student Spotlight Assemblies, teachers reward and recognize students for their achievements in a variety of categories so that no one is excluded. We also celebrate each child’s birthday and host playful, non-exclusive competitions as a way of relaxing and letting off some steam.

Private school education shouldn’t have to be dull. Let your child grow in a supportive and creative academic environment informed by Christ’s word.

Before And After School Care (Kindergarten – 12 Years Old)

At Walnut Creek Academy, we recognize that after school programs aren’t a question  of convenience for parents. They’re a necessity. But we also realize that your time at home should be quality time with your kids—not just with their noses to the grindstone. That’s why our before and after school program emphasizes education, in addition to daily activities with their friends.

But our program isn’t just about continuing structured academics. We provide a free choice learning area where a child can decide which subjects are best for them, sparking their own creativity and nurturing their own curiosity. And in doing so, discovering more about themselves.

But it also gives our teachers a chance to observe your child even more closely, learning about their real motivations and their real passions. Doing so allows them to come to a true understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses; and more importantly, how they can better help them.