Although teachers within the Child-Parent Centers used a variety of classroom curriculum, the centers all used supplementary instructional activities within the Chicago EARLY project (Early Assessment and Remediation Laboratory). This project contains elements to assess children's development level and to provide instruction. The first element is the assessment tool that is used to identify strengths and weaknesses of individual children. The second element is the curriculum component that teachers could use to remediate or advance developmental skills for students.
The EARLY curriculum uses an activity-based approach that includes instructional guidance within the major developmental areas of body image/gross motor, perceptual-motor, arithmetic, and language (Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 1988). The instructional guide provides a flexible design so that teachers can transition between and within activities to meet the individual needs of the students. An investigation showed that 66 percent of CPC teachers used the EARLY activities more than three times per week (Naron & Perlman, 1981). Further, the activities are to be used as a supplement to regular classroom activities. Body image and gross motor activities are intended to increase body awareness thus increasing a child's self-concept (Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 1988); activities may include body part recognition, balance, and body exercises. Perceptual-motor activities focus on fine motor and visual discrimination; activities include pre-mathematic skills including color and shape specification, matching and sorting, and completion tasks. Language activities focus on both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening and understanding) communication; activities include sound discrimination, sentence building, story comprehension, and verbal problem solving.
Most activities are recommended for small group activities; however, many of the gross motor activities can be used with the whole class. It is suggested that teachers provide opportunities within EARLY activities for children to develop school readiness skills "such as paying attention, as well as self-help, and socialization skills" (Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 1988, p. ix). Teachers are encouraged to use positive reinforcement during activities and to design activities within each child's developmental level so that children learn to succeed within each new skill area. In addition, because the EARLY is used within already existing programming, teachers can incorporate activities to meet the needs of individual students within the classroom. Further, the flexibility of the program is extremely beneficial because teachers can use the various activities regardless of the teaching curriculum (e.g., Bank Street Model, DISTAR, developmental approach, eclectic approach, etc.) implemented within the classroom.
Board of Education of the City of Chicago (1988). Chicago EARLY Instructional Activities for Ages 3-6. Educational Teaching Aids: Vernon Hills, IL.
Naron, N.K. & Perlman, C.L. (1981). Chicago EARLY Program.: Initial implementation of a preventive prekindergarten program. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Los Angeles, CA, April 13-17, 1981. ERIC Document ED 201 382.