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Curriculum Approach

We believe that children learn best in an environment where they feel safe and accepted and where learning is fun.

We accomplish this by:

  • Differentiated instruction to meet each student’s individual learning needs
  • Integrated, multidisciplinary approach to engage students and make learning more meaningful
  • Embedding skills learned through Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, and Counseling sessions into student’s learning experiences and environment
  • School-Home Partnership Program including:
    • Parent/Caregiver Support Groups
    • Parent/Caregiver Workshops
    • Sibling Workshops
    • Grandparents’ Day Workshop
  • Adherence to the New York State Common Core Standards
  • Implementing the HighScope approach where active learners have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, and events that encourage them to think, imagine, and problem-solve. They construct an understanding of their world and the people around them as they make choices based on their interests and follow through on their plans and decisions.
  • Promoting a healthy body and mind by emphasizing healthy snacks and lunches, appropriate hygiene, and exercise in our sensory gyms, rooftop playground, the playground at Asphalt Green (School-Age students only), as well as other parks in the community.
  • Curriculum Enrichment
  • Support Services

Preschool Curriculum

Preschool Curriculum

Gillen Brewer approaches preschool education through the programs listed below. Teachers provide a rich language-based curriculum that enables children to engage in "hands-on" learning that is developmentally appropriate and socially engaging. Therefore, we value play and real life experiences as essential to learning.

Reading/Writing

  • Sounds In Motion is a phonemic awareness program that incorporates a kinesthetic approach to target pre-reading skills. Movements are taught for each sound (phoneme) to assist students in hearing and identifying the sounds in words and the number of syllables in words. Letters are also used to emphasize the sound-letter correspondence necessary for decoding words.
  • In addition to reading in the classroom, Gillen Brewer has a school-wide Reading Policy of having all students read with an adult for 20 minutes each day at home
  • Although Gillen Brewer does not formally teach letter formation in the preschool years, teachers incorporate components of the Handwriting Without Tears multisensory, developmentally-based curriculum emphasizing writing readiness skills. The program develops hand dominance, coloring, drawing, and body awareness through the use of music and multi-sensory activities.

Art and Music

  • Art and Music classes are held twice a week.

Science

  • Discovery-based Science lessons held in the classroom twice per week.

School-Age Curriculum

School-Age Curriculum

The Gillen Brewer School-Age Program's curriculum adheres to an individualized learning program that meets the educational needs of each student. Teachers strive to integrate all content areas to make learning more meaningful. Field trips and child initiated projects are an integral part of this approach.

Reading/Writing

Developmentally similar School-Age classes have reading and writing groups at the same time. Students are placed in reading groups within their homeroom unless their needs can be better met in a different group. The reading/writing program consists of five main components:

  • Sounds In Motion is a phonemic awareness program that incorporates a kinesthetic approach to target pre-reading skills. Movements are taught for each sound (phoneme) to assist students in hearing and identifying the sounds in words and the number of syllables in words. Letters are also used to emphasize the sound-letter correspondence necessary for decoding words.
  • As part of the Letter of the Week curriculum, our youngest School-Age students engage with the Letter People Puppets. Each week a new letter puppet is introduced with its corresponding sound in motion. The letter puppets provide high motivation and an animated way to introduce the letter and its sound, helping students to develop phonemic and phonological skills concurrently.
  • When the students have established a strong foundation of phonological and phonemic awareness skills, they are introduced to an Orton-Gillingham phonics-based multisensory program called Preventing Academic Failure (PAF). The PAF program is a highly structured program that teaches decoding, handwriting, and spelling concurrently, so when children are learning a letter, they are learning its sound and how to write it. For those students who are fluent readers, PAF is used to teach letter formation, spelling, and grammar rules.
  • Once students are reading with more fluency and comprehending what they read, they are moved into an appropriately leveled Guided Reading text, where the focus shifts to comprehension and development of higher order thinking skills in both fiction and non-fiction books.
  • Young children use drawings, letters, and words to express themselves through print. Once children develop these necessary skills, they begin to work at the sentence and paragraph level where their goals are to raise the linguistic complexity of their sentences and improve the organization of their compositions. Teaching Basic Writing Skills is the writing program used in our upper school-age classes. This program is designed to teach students how to become effective expository writers.
  • When teaching handwriting to younger students, emphasis is on pre-writing skills and hand-strengthening activities. A modified version of the Handwriting Without Tears program as well as other developmentally appropriate activities are utilized to teach these skills. When children are developmentally ready, the handwriting component of the PAF program is formally taught. When it is determined a student in the upper school-age classrooms is ready, cursive writing is taught using the PAF program.

Math

School-age classrooms use the Math In Focus: Singapore Math Program. Math In Focus is an authentic Singapore Math curriculum with problem solving as the center of math learning.

Social Studies

Follows the New York State Common Core Standards for Social Studies and the New York City Social Studies scope and sequence while also emphasizing the social and emotional aspect of our everyday lives. Early-elementary students study the concept of family and community needs. Students then move on to learning about communities in New York City along with how communities grow and change over time. The sequence continues to expand with middle-elementary students learning about world communities in the present and past.

Art/Music

Art classes are held twice per week and Music is held 1-2 times per week depending on class.

Science

Discovery-based Science lessons held in the classroom twice per week.

Sports Program

Gillen Brewer staff and Asphalt Green coaches are partners in our comprehensive sports program that promotes team building and good sportsmanship through the teaching of direct skills in at least three cooperative games, including swimming, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, martial arts, yoga, floor hockey, and baseball.

Homework

All students are required to read for a minimum of 20 minutes with an adult or independently (when appropriate) each day/night, weekends included. Reading should be recorded on the Weekly Reading Log. In addition to reading, students may also have math homework and/or social studies homework nightly (weeknights). Homework, with 20 minutes of reading included, may take anywhere from 30 minutes (for the youngest school-age students) to one hour (oldest school-age students) to complete. The Gillen Brewer School Rockin’ Readers Challenge motivates students to read at home.

Technology

Students learn keyboarding when they are physically and developmentally ready through the Mavis Beacon program. Other skills such as navigating the Internet and doing research are directly taught by teachers on a class-by-class basis.