Where Should I Start?

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The Official Grace Community School Blog (you’re on it now!) has been running since 2015. We’ve got a lot of content. If you’re new to the blog or haven’t poked around here in awhile you may be asking, “What should I read?”

We’ve put together a list of some of our best articles from the blog archives, sort of our “greatest hits.” Just click the links below.

The Good Stuff

Your Child Deserves This!

How to Sign Up for Special Classes at Grace Community School

What is Grace Community School?

15 Reasons Why You Should Give Your Kids Music Lessons

Why Did Grace Community School Build New Playgrounds at Every Location?

Boost Your Child’s Learning With This One Thing

What Will Your Child Learn at Grace Community School?

Should Young Children Be Taught to Read?

Grace Community School Kindergarten

The Joy of Reading

Get More From Your Grace Community School Education

Helping Your Child Succeed in Child Care and Beyond

Unlocking Success at Grace Community School

Why I Love Grace Community School Photos

How to Get $100 and Follow the Golden Rule

More for Your Money at Grace Community School

Daycare or School: What’s the Difference?

Take Your Pick: Your Preschooler Reading Real Books… or Not Reading at All

What Are Reading Circles?

Success Through Early Literacy at Grace Community School

All About Math Circles!

If you find anything here useful or interesting, please click one of the share buttons and let your social networks know!

Your Child Deserves This!

What if You Could Give Your Child a Head Start?

The good news is, you can!

We all want to be better parents. We realize that there is nothing more precious than our children. In them, we seem to see all our hopes and fears realized. However much we do for our children, we would like to do more.

If you ask any parent, they will likely have a list of things they want for their child. There are limits to what we can do, but surely there are some things every parent can agree on. We want our children to succeed. We want our children to have the best we can give them. We want to give our children the tools they need to be self-actualized. They need a firm foundation, a head start.

So How Do You Do That?

The big question is, how do you do that? There is no better way than a great early childhood education! While people try to rank daycares and preschools in many different ways, usually in a haphazard way, the essential measurement is this: do the kids learn?

Since 1986, Grace Community School has a proven track record of measurable success. Other Pre-K programs use vague and arbitrary “success indicators” to supposedly measure whether or not the school is successful. But we use learning as our standard, and the results are impressive! Grace Community School students routinely score multiple grade levels ahead of where they “should” be. Children are capable of so much more than we usually give them credit for, if we only give them the opportunity and the tools they need!

Grace Community School students are frequently put in gifted classes when they enter public schools, and for a good reason. Our students, working at multiple grade levels ahead of where they would be in the public school, are frequently bored when they enter “regular” school; the material they already know entering Kindergarten will not be taught until years later in the public school!

The Skill Your Child Must Have

Of all the things children need to learn, it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of reading. Reading is the skill upon which all others are based. If you can read, you can learn almost anything! More, teaching kids to read well is the best way to instill a love of reading in children. You wouldn’t enjoy doing something you couldn’t do well, would you? Unfortunately, millions of American children find reading to be a struggle. It should be no surprise that many kids don’t want to read – it’s hard! Children who learn to read early are more likely to become active readers when they are older. It also boosts children’s self-esteem; kids are justifiably proud of themselves when they can do something so monumental as reading.

Our Preschoolers Can Read!

The first five years of a child’s life are by far the most important developmental years — don’t waste them! The education given to a child in these birth-to-five years is the most far-reaching he or she will receive. Play is important, but so is guided learning. Grace Community School is far more than just babysitting!

Children at Grace Community School learn at their own pace. Because of this, they never become bored, and the level of instruction is always at the child’s developmental level; there is always something new to learn! Grace Community School does not teach “reading readiness,” only actual reading, with phonics. The one-on-one attention given to students during Reading Circles is key to the success of this program.

Foundations for Life

Students can continue their Grace Community School education by enrolling in our Kindergarten program. Our test scores indicate that bright students graduate their Kindergarten with as high as a fifth-grade reading level!

For children to succeed, they need a firm foundation, not only of academics but morality. The non-denominational Bible program at Grace Community School provides this. In addition to daily Bible Time, morals, virtues, and manners are incorporated into the curriculum. Children learn the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This moral learning is just as important for children’s development as the academic material; moreover, moral learning is the framework for social-emotional development. Kids are better able to learn when children behave courteously and work together in a safe environment.

Better playgrounds mean better learning!

The Grace Community School educational program also extends to children’s physical well-being. Physical development and learning about health are part of each day. Optional dance and karate programs are offered as well. Did I mention the free food? Healthy, USDA-approved meals prepared in an on-site kitchen help kids stay healthy and happy; kids who eat better, learn better. This great nutrition is brought to your children at no cost to you! Free food and time not spent packing lunches means more family time at home.

Get Paid to Help Your Friends!

Essentially, what Grace Community School does is give kids a big head start in life! You as a parent can give your child a great advantage that no one can take away, something they will always have with them — a great education. You would think that for a parent to give this kind of an advantage to his or her child would cost a fortune. At Grace Community School, the answer is no! Not only does Grace Community School offer a better education than any other preschool program you will find, but they also do it at the lowest cost to you! Even more, the Grace Community School advantage is something you can share. Right now, refer your friends and family to Grace Community School, and you will receive a $100 referral bonus! Instead of daycare, why not school? With your child at Grace Community School, you will experience the peace of mind that our more than twenty-five years of experience brings. As Southwest Florida’s leading childcare center, they are ready to serve you and your children.

Download the Grace Community School Guide to Choosing Your Perfect Childcare Center. If you’re not sure what to look for in a childcare center, or just want resources to help you out, this is the guide for you!

What Will Your Child Learn at Grace Community School?

Grace Community School has a variety of advanced learning programs to help your child succeed!

Nothing sets Grace Community School apart from other childcare centers more than our learning program! We want to give you a brief overview of the learning programs here at Grace Community School. Our program starts at age six weeks and continues through kindergarten, and so does the learning. First and foremost, we are far more than a daycare.

Instead of Daycare, Why Not School?

Most people think of daycare as mostly babysitting with some social interaction thrown in for good measure. This is pretty much true, but not here. That’s why we are Grace Community School, emphasis on school. Instead of just daycare, we are an educational facility. But that doesn’t mean we’re boring. Many people think that play and learning are mutually exclusive. This isn’t true!

Learning can be fun, and it has to be — for children to learn, they need to be interested.

Learning can be fun, and it has to be — for children to learn, they need to be interested. We do all our teaching with interactive games and fun activities. Each game and activity goes along with the week’s theme.

Infants and Toddlers

Grace Community School’s learning program for infants and toddlers starts with the foundation of helping the child know he or she is loved and will be taken care of. Safety — both physical and emotional — is our priority. This is the basis for our infant and toddler educational program. Our caring and loving caregivers use developmentally appropriate techniques to aid in growth and stimulation of our youngest students.

Our youngest students are learning, too!

Activities for infants and toddlers involve:

  • story time
  • music and movement
  • verbal interaction
  • physical activity
  • visual stimuli

These activities help the students:

  • feel secure
  • learn to communicate verbally and non-verbally
  • develop gross and fine motor skills
  • build eye-hand coordination
  • develop socially and build trusting relationships with their caregivers
  • build problem-solving strategies
  • express their independence
College really can begin at two!

As children grow and develop, they are ready for more advanced educational activities.

College Can Begin at Two

For children two years and older, we have our unique curriculum, College Can Begin at 2! This curriculum includes a special theme for each and every week of the year, and features dress-up days, parties, special events, art projects and themed learning activities.

College Can Begin at Two. Really! We start teaching kids as young as two years of age the basics of reading and math. The first group of letters our kids learn is the vowels — A, E, I, O, and U. But our students don’t just learn the letters; they learn the sound that goes with each letter along with a clue word to help kids remember everything. Once they learn the vowels, they tackle the next letter group and progress through the alphabet.

Learning certificates inform parents of their child’s accomplishments and help celebrate them!

There is basic math instruction, too. Our kids learn their basic shapes like circle, triangle, rectangle, star, and heart, along with their colors. Our curriculum covers positional words like up, down, inside, outside, and so on. As students get older and learn, we introduce more concepts. Learning progresses at each student’s personal pace.

Physical activity is important for child development!

Kids at this age continue to build their social and emotional skills, learning about feelings and how to resolve problems. They develop relationships with other children and the adults in their lives, including their caregivers. They are getting better at controlling their bodies. They need practice with writing and drawing. Daily directed writing practice is part of the College Can Begin at 2 program.

Children are learning to speak more and increasing their vocabulary. Story time, poems, and conversations with their classmates and teachers build language skills.

Some of the things integrated into the College Can Begin at 2 Curriculum are:

  • manners training
  • non-denominational Bible Time
  • art projects
  • letters and numbers of the week
  • work sheets and coloring pages
  • interactive learning experiences
  • individualized phonics and math instruction sessions
  • take-home learning certificates and books so parents can keep track of their child’s progress

Our Preschoolers Can Read

This isn’t just a catch phrase! When developmentally-appropriate teaching methods are combined with one-on-one phonics instruction, the result is kids who can read. That’s right; we use phonics. It works! We send books and certificates home to keep parents informed of their children’s progress and help them celebrate their achievements.

Check out this link for a more detailed look at our phonics program.

Mathematical Excellence

Similar to Reading Circles, Grace Community School Math Circles provide students with mathematical instruction. Just as with reading, we start with the basics. The “1’s Family” introduces children to the numbers 0-9. We build from there and add counting to higher numbers, object sets, and more advanced math concepts.

Click this link to learn more.

Special Classes

Our extracurricular classes are available, too:

The core Grace Community School learning programs, along with these special classes, make for a whole-life curriculum!

Find Out More

You can get more Info about our curriculum, learning goals, special classes, theme weeks, at www.gracecommunityschools.com.

Preparing Your Child For Success

Should Young Children Be Taught to Read? (Part 2 of 2)

In part 1 of this 2-part series, we talked about the need for childcare programs to go beyond just talking about early literacy and to teach kids to read using proven time-tested methods, especially phonics. In part 2 we’ll discuss “whole language” and how Grace Community School sets our students up for success.

The Whole Truth

Whole language sounds good. It is supposed to be a holistic approach to learning to read and write, taking words, sentences, and books and dealing with them as a whole, rather than breaking words down into phonetic parts and learning to read those before moving on to bigger parts of language. Unfortunately, in practice, the emphasis in whole language instruction is on getting kids excited about reading and reading aloud to children, without formal direction. With whole language, kids are supposed to learn how to read and write by being exposed to and getting excited by these manifestations of language. Here’s the thing: enthusiasm isn’t a substitute for teaching how to read!

Whole language does not work as a method of reading instruction because it does not give kids what they need to be able to read. The English language encodes the meanings of words in the sounds that make up the words. Phonics lets kids “decode” the letters in a word, so they know what it is! Grace Community’s reading program (“Reading Circles”) starts at the most basic level, with the vowels. Teachers add other letters in small groups as the kids progress. Children learn the name of each letter, as well as (most importantly!) the sound of each letter, and a clue word. “A says ă as in apple.” “E says ĕ as in elephant,” and so on. After the individual letters are learned, the kids learn to blend them together, and then to make words. It’s a natural, developmentally appropriate progression that works for all children.

Adults reading aloud to children is a wonderful thing. But we can’t forget that the goal is for children to be able to read for themselves! And learning to read doesn’t work like osmosis – kids won’t “soak up” the ability to read like a sponge. This is exactly how whole language is supposed to work. Unlike learning to speak, learning to read doesn’t “just come” with experience. We must teach reading, and this is what Grace Community School does.

Actions, Not Just Feelings and Good Intentions

Whole language attempts to create enthusiasm for reading without giving the skills needed to read. While enthusiasm for reading is very important, you need skills, too! The child who knows how to read will have fun reading. The child who does not, will not. The better they read, the more fun they will have. It’s that simple. Reading will not be enjoyable for a child unless they have the skills to do it easily. Would you enjoy bowling if you rolled a gutterball every time? Unlikely! That is what it is like for the child who cannot read well. Reading becomes a chore, frustrating and hard. Not enjoyable. You don’t want that!

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Progressive educational experts believe something similar with handwriting. Just as exposure to books and printed words is somehow supposed to turn into literacy in children sometime down the road, they claim that writing will spontaneously emerge from a child’s scribbles. Not so – kids need instruction and practice! Children learn to write best with lots of practice, worksheets, and direction from teachers.

Our Preschoolers Can Read!

Grace Community School uses a proven phonics-based method of teaching reading. Our Reading Circles provide individualized instruction to students that is always right at the child’s level. The result: kids who can read! Even in a technological society like ours, reading is still vital. Readers are leaders! Much has been made of the importance of getting kids to read fluently by third grade. It is an important indicator of future success in school and life. “Third-grade reading proficiency is crucial for continued academic success and to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.” We want out students to read, and Grace Community School gives them the tools they need to do that.

Your children deserve so much more than what typical childcare offers!

We also celebrate the reading accomplishments of our students in several ways. Certificates and reading books make each step in the learning journey special. We also send home framed photos of the kids holding their new reading books. You will never find happier children than the ones in those photographs! In addition, we recognize our Reader Achievers on our social media.

Reader Achievers are our students who have gone above and beyond the usual excellence!

At Grace Community School, Our Preschoolers Can Read, and we couldn’t be happier about it! If you found this article useful, please click one of the share buttons below and tell your friends.

Grace Community School Kindergarten

Kindergarten at Grace Community School! It’s never too early to start planning ahead.
Are you ready for kindergarten? It’s never too early to start planning! The pre-K year goes by so quickly. Finding a kindergarten program for your child can be stressful. Let us help! Good news: Grace Community School has kindergarten! Don’t worry about going to School Choice; your child can continue with Grace Community School in the safe, friendly environment your child is used to. Why should you choose our kindergarten program?

Is Learning Important to You?

Grace Community School students graduate pre-K reading — something public school students often don’t achieve until the 3rd grade, if then. The Grace Community School kindergarten program has demonstrated results. If learning is important to you, and you want an uncompromising education, this is the way to go. This is an advanced program! The phonics instruction at Grace Community School gives kids what they need to succeed, in reading and other areas. Students who have attended our school since they were young graduate our preschool program reading multiple grade levels ahead of public school kindergarteners. Our kindergarten graduates are reading at a third-grade level. The average public school kindergarten graduate cannot even be tested for reading skills! That’s why we have to give our kindergarteners a 1st-grade standardized test.

Grace Community School Kindergarten is an advanced program that will help your child excel in every area!
The Grace Community School math program continues into kindergarten, too. Your child will move seamlessly from the pre-K Math Circles right into the kindergarten levels. Our kindergarten students learn their addition and subtraction families, story problems, and more. Get a comprehensive list of what is learned here.

Our musical graduation program is a highlight of the school year!
It’s more than just academics. All our learning instruction is done with fun games and interactive activities, including our famous theme weeks. There are parties, dress-up days, and special events throughout the entire school year. Get weekly photos including digital photo copies through the GCS Memories program. Grace Community School kindergarten finishes in a musical program complete with graduation ceremony and diploma presentation.

What Does Grace Community School Kindergarten Include?

Grace Community School Kindergarten includes:

  • all care 6:30 am to 6:00 pm, including before and after school care
  • breakfast, lunch, snack and drinks
  • yearbook
  • Bible instruction
  • the advanced reading and math program
  • weekly photo program
  • spring and Christmas programs

Music Classes — along with Karate, Dance, and Art Classes — are available to our kindergarten students.
And of course, our special classes — Art Class, Dance Class, Karate Class, and Music Class — are also still available.

How Much Does it Cost?

Here’s the really awesome part! Everything is just $85 per week. That price stays the same throughout the whole school year, including many days that public school is closed.

What Do I Need to Do?

Let us know you want your child to stay here for kindergarten! Sign-up forms are available at your Grace Community School location.

Your Child Deserves the Best

Your child deserves the best education possible! Grace Community School Kindergarten makes that dream a reality.
For more than thirty years, we’ve been providing the ultimate in early childhood education. We want to make things easier and better for you and your child. You can find out more about Grace Community School’s learning programs at our official website.

Do you know someone else who might be interested in Grace Community School kindergarten? Click one of the share buttons below to share this post and let them know!

The Joy of Reading

Reading is one of life’s great joys! The best way to instill a love of reading is to make reading easy and enjoyable.

How Do You Get Kids to Love Reading?

I love reading. I have ever since I was a child. A love of reading has been a part of my life for so long that sometimes I feel like it’s always been there. This isn’t actually true.

I came from a very literate family. My mom and dad are both readers. As I grew up, we always had books everywhere. I knew reading was something I was supposed to do. I picked books off the shelves at home and made an attempt to read them. It wasn’t as easy as my parents made it look! At school, I also tried to read. I was met with frustration until my kindergarten teacher showed us something that made everything easier: words are made up of sounds. You can look at the letters in a word, and know that these letters represent the sounds you need to say to make the word. If you can decode the words into their component sounds, you can read the word!

All of a sudden, reading clicked for me. Instead of frustration, it was fun. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning to read using phonics much as the students at Grace Community School learn.

One story that happened soon after illustrates how this translated into my love of reading. My family went on a camping trip, and my mother brought along the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia. I considered this a big grown-up book. She started reading it to my brothers and me. I was very interested in it and kept begging mom to read more. When my mom didn’t read to us from the book as much as I wanted, I took the book myself and looked at the pages. To my surprise, I found out that with phonics, I was able to read most of the words! I soon completed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and raced through the other Narnia books.

I haven’t looked back. Reading has been one of the great joys of my life. If I weren’t a good reader, that would not be true.

Kids don’t have to wait until kindergarten or elementary school to learn how to read!

Our modern early childhood education system has moved away from the proven phonic methods of reading instruction and substituted things like the “whole language” method and the “print-rich environment.” Current educators have this idea that you can just surround a child with books and magazines and printed labels and posters (that’s the print-rich environment) and they will just naturally become literate. That did not work for me. It took someone who cared enough to show me the right way to read. To teach me. The environment didn’t teach me to read, a teacher did! You can’t learn to read by osmosis; it just won’t work. Reading to your child is good and can help instill a sense of wonder. There is something about hearing the written word spoken aloud (I also enjoy audio books!), but this can’t replace having the skills necessary to read. As a consequence of abandoning phonics, children don’t learn to read until elementary school, if ever. We don’t need to wait!

Instill a Joy of Reading the Grace Community School Way

Reading is something anyone can learn to do, but they need the correct tools. Now as a grown-up, I help kids learn to read at Grace Community School. We start with the basics, just like my teacher and later my mother did.

Unlike me, kids don’t have to wait until kindergarten to learn to read! Grace Community School students as young as two years of age learn that each letter of the alphabet has a sound. The alphabet is broken down into five groups. Vowels are the first group. Once the vowels and their sounds are learned, the children move on to the next until they master the entire alphabet and its sounds.

Learning certificates celebrate children’s achievements and keep parents informed.

This is all at an individual pace, so it doesn’t matter if your child just started at Grace Community, they will begin at the beginning — and we don’t hold kids back, either. They can go as quickly or slowly as they need to. After this the kids learn to put the sounds together (these are called “blends” We send certificates home to help you celebrate your child’s achievements.

Grace Community School’s own letter book program is next. There are 32 books covering all the alphabet, each with blends for the letters the book covers. This book system along with one-on-one phonics instruction produces children who can read fluently, and who as a consequence love reading!

The joy of reading lasts a lifetime. Unlock your child’s full potential and create a life-long joy of reading with a Grace Community School education. Find our more about the GCS Reading Program here, and if you enjoyed this article, please click one of the share buttons below. We appreciate it!

 

What Kids Need in Child Care

At Grace Community School, we know the parents of our students want the absolute best for their kids; so do we!

Helping Your Child Succeed in Child Care and Beyond

Every parent who drops a child off at child care has certain expectations of what will happen to that child. Each parent hopes that the child care experience will be a positive one, giving the child what he or she needs to grow, learn, and be happy.

These things include the basics: being kept safe from harm, fulfillment of physical needs, comfort, opportunities for friendship, fun. Most parents would also be happy if their children could learn something while away from home. These things aren’t the only things a child needs from child care!

Achieving Full Potential

Child experts agree that for the child to achieve his or her full potential – to rise above the median, to accomplish what is called “self-actualization” – the child must have more than the basics. You, as a parent, would no doubt like your child to do more than just survive – you want your child to thrive!

Unfortunately, if you bring your child to just any child care center, you will likely get just the basics – only the basics. It will be babysitting, for the most part. There is something not on that list of basics: love! It is not enough to merely take care of a child, the child who will thrive needs love, both at home and at school.

Remember: love is not just an emotion, it is also action! At Grace Community School, we know the parents of our students want the absolute best for their kids; so do we! Love means giving kids the best education possible.

Instead of daycare, why not school?

Why Not School?

Here is where we see the very big difference between a daycare and a school; one is merely a place for children to bide the time where their parents are at work, the other is a real educational facility. Grace Community School is a school. We like to say, “College Can Begin at Two.” When children have the capacity to start genuine academics as young as age two, why not let them? Learning is fun! Let us take a look at some of the ways Grace Community School goes “beyond the basics.”

First, Grace Community School provides instruction in an area often neglected in child care: morality. You will not even see it listed as a domain in articles about child development. A truly great education must be built on a moral foundation. Virtues or character traits like self-control, diligence, and deferred gratification – characteristics of highly successful people – are actually all a part of moral training. A Grace Community School education includes moral training, both in our Bible instruction and integrated throughout the curriculum. Grace Community School kids learn the Golden Rule, as well as other Biblical principles like the Ten Commandments, and put them into practice. You cannot overemphasize the long-term importance this makes in the lives of children!

Our Preschoolers Can Read!

Second, Grace Community School teaches real reading! Reading is simply the most important academic skill you must learn in school; nothing else comes close. Society and technology have changed vastly in nature in recent decades, but the importance of reading has not diminished. Daycares might teach “reading readiness” or “emergent literacy,” but not Grace Community School. Our students learn the real deal. Accept no substitutions! Since reading is so vital to a child’s future, what better way to show love to a child than teaching him or her to read!

Our Math program is also second-to-none. Just as in the Grace Community School reading program, math students work at their own pace achieving various milestones and learning different skills. Children move on to the next Math Circle level when they master their current level. We celebrate both Reading and Math Circle achievements by sending home certificates and books with the kids so they can show off what they have learned! We put photos of students who have reached special milestones on our social media, too.

There’s More!

For children to perform at their best, their physical needs have to be met. Grace Community School provides FREE and nutritious breakfast, lunch, snack, and drinks for all students. Meals are prepared fresh onsite daily. Better nutrition means kids who are better able to learn. You can check out our USDA-approved menu any time on our website www.gracecommunityschools.com. Not only does the free meal program benefit students at school, but family life improves at home since parents do not need to spend time and money packing lunches. It’s a win-win situation!

We have a variety of extracurricular courses available for our students (ask your Grace Community School office how to sign up today!) The Grace Community School karate program is another program that benefits children both physically and mentally. Children ages three years and up have an opportunity to learn martial arts from an experienced American Kenpo karate instructor in a fun environment. The most important skill learned in karate is self-discipline. Self-discipline is sometimes called the “master virtue” because of its importance in everything a person does, and its use as in indicator of success later in life. More self-discipline leads to more success!

Along similar lines, our dance program enhances the lives of children in many ways. Children learn techniques of jazz and ballet while experiencing the joy that comes from moving their bodies to music. The kids are having so much fun they don’t even realize that they’re exercising and enhancing motor skills!

Piano and group music lessons are also available at some locations. Students learn both the theory and practice of playing piano as they progress through beginner’s piano lesson books, play games, and participate in fun music drill. The benefits of music lessons are many, even going so far as to boost SAT scores! Returning again to the topic of self-discipline, there is something about the immediate feed-back in playing music that improves discipline like nothing else. It’s a wonderful way to earn an instrument as well as increase overall self-control.

We also have Art Class! Each week our Art Class students create a special art project during thirty-minute lessons. It’s a different project each week (that goes along with our special theme weeks) that they take home. See why Grace Community School Art Class is one of our most popular extracurricular activities.

The various Grace Community School learning programs let children progress at their own pace combined with an orderly environment full of routines creates a comfortable, loving environment that makes kids feel safe. Parents need assurance, too! Updates via our social media pages and email list let you stay informed about what is going on at school, upcoming special events and theme weeks, and lots of other news. Also, our photo program lets you take home a printed photo of your child from school each week.

Set for Success

That’s a lot of extras! We know you love your child and want nothing but the best! That is exactly what Grace Community School gets you – the best possible education at the lowest cost, including the most important thing your child needs to succeed: love demonstrated through action. We are happy to have the privilege to serve you and your child. Don’t forget to tell your friends! Right now Grace Community School has an awesome referral program. Refer a child to any Grace Community School location and get $100! Find out more here or ask your location’s office for details.

Grace Community School goes beyond the basics to deliver a safe and caring environment, an unparalleled learning experience, and more extras than you will find at any other child care center in Southwest Florida. Most importantly, it sets your child down on a path that leads to success in child care and beyond. Find out more about Grace Community Schools and its programs at www.gracecommunityschools.com

Learning Certificates Celebrate Achievement!

Real learning is something to celebrate!

If you’ve been to Grace Community School, you’ve probably seen the colorful, exciting learning certificates hanging on the wall, certificates that say things like “I’m a Reader Achiever.”What is all that? These are not things you will find in other childcare centers, nor are they mere participation awards. These certificates celebrate learning, real accomplishments. Our students are learning a lot, and learning is what sets Grace Community School apart from everyone else! We want everyone to know about our students’ scholarship, especially our parents. Our students are justifiably proud of their work. They can’t wait to show their parents what they have learned, and the certificates help them do that.

Learning Certificates Aplenty

There are a variety of accomplishments certificates can celebrate, such as:

Printing all those certificates each week takes a lot of time, as well as paper and ink. So why do we do all of this?

  • It informs parents of their child’s progress
  • Students love getting them and taking them home
  • It recognizes our students’ achievements
  • We want parents to have something to show their friends and coworkers
  • It’s fun!

Demonstrated achievement is the greatest self-esteem booster. Grace Community School kids don’t just think they are special; they know they are special because of all the things they can do. The certificates just remind them. We want our students to be able to believe in themselves and be proud.

Math Achievers get learning certificates, too!

Real Learning = Real Self-Esteem

There is a lot for our students to be proud of! Grace Community School students often get into gifted classes when they go to public school, after having working multiple public school grade levels above their public school counterparts. Now it is clearer than ever that getting kids to learn to read early in life has dramatic importance for success later on. This success is what GCS students have to look forward to. Our Reading Circle program begins teaching children as young as two years of age the phonic sound of each letter and moves on from there to blends, words and reading books. There is no stopping them!

A common misconception is that kids can’t learn to read until elementary school. This is simply not true! At Grace Community School, children learn to read as young as three years of age.

The GCS Math Circle program is similarly advanced. Math domain concepts are split into different levels. Math learning certificates go home when a level is mastered, and the child moves on to the next level.

Grace Community School Math Circle certificates go home to keep parents informed of their children’s mathematical accomplishments!

Some of our longtime students have a hard time adjusting to government schooling because the material they already know entering kindergarten will not be taught until years later in the public school! (that is one reason why Grace Community School offers a kindergarten program for just $10 in tuition per week!)

Demonstrated achievement is the greatest self-esteem booster.

Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! Refer your friends and coworkers! We accept students from 6 weeks up through kindergarten for school, and up to age 11 for before/after school and summer camp. Show them some of your child’s certificates, and make sure they write your name down on the enrollment form as a referrer so you can get your $100!

Daycare or School: What’s the Difference?

Originally published in the September 2015 issue of The Whale’s Tale.

Sometimes when people call us on the phone they ask, “Are you a daycare or a school?” The short answer is that we are both. The long answer is that there are a lot of important differences between daycares and schools. These are differences that many people might miss, but are actually very important. What’s the big deal? Let’s go back to the beginning.

Grace Community School was founded in 1986 to be something different. We stood out from the crowd. Southwest Florida had daycares, but what it was missing was a place where young children could come to get an uncompromising education – this was not available. An education that was focused on learning and actually taught reading, while at the same time being fun and inviting. What came about was an extraordinary learning center – a true school. Schools are traditionally educational facilities, but not all are created equal. There is a difference between “schooling” and “educating.” Grace Community School is a school in the traditional sense in that education is in the forefront. At its simplest, a school is defined as “an institution designed for the teaching of students.” The key thing here is “teaching.” What you teach the students, and how you do it, is extremely important. These days people use catch phrases and fancy-sounding terms like “early literacy,” “emergent literacy,” and “reading readiness.” These things may not mean what you think! Daycares do not teach reading. Believing in the abilities of our students, Grace Community School from the beginning has taught real, actual reading. Children are capable of so much more than some people give them credit for. The learning program at Grace Community School has expanded to become a whole-life curriculum including music, physical education, martial arts, non-denominational Bible study, individualized math instruction, and more. Nearly thirty years have gone by, and we are still different!

Kids who read are happy kids!

What about daycare? If school is about providing a real academic program, daycare is about babysitting and basic care. In daycare, education is optional. There are no requirements, for example, that daycares teach actual reading. Sadly most daycares skate by with some “reading readiness” and a lot of toys. We have to do better for our children! Daycare programs are designed to prepare children for the public school, at best – which does not require literacy. Grace Community School students often graduate pre-k reading at a third-grade level. There is a very good reason one of our slogans is “College Can Begin at Two”! Our bright kindergarten students graduate reading at the fifth-grade level. Every child can learn to read — you just need to give them the tools. What are these tools? Phonics, individualized instruction, practice, and more practice! Grace Community School Reading Circles break the alphabet down into smaller groups so the kids can master one level before moving on to the next. After the alphabet and its sounds have been learned, then come the books. The result is preschoolers who can read! You won’t see this at ordinary daycares.

Math Circle certificates celebrate our kids’ achievements.

We now also have Math Circles at Grace Community School. Similar to Reading Circles, Math Circles help our students master mathematics one concept at a time, starting with basic geometric shapes and progressing to counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, and more. Certificates are sent home for both Reading and Math Circles to celebrate our students’ achievements, and the names of these students are printed in this newspaper. We are proud of our students, and we know you are as well. That’s a lot of learning! Ordinarily, care and education at this level would cost more, but not at Grace Community School. Our low prices, special introductory rates, no registration fee, financial aid programs, and free food help keep costs reasonable. We know that is important for our families. Grace Community School has nine convenient locations throughout Southwest Florida. From Port Charlotte to Lehigh Acres and Golden Gate, there is a Grace Community School near you. Don’t forget about our referral program! Tell your friends and coworkers, and you can get $100 for referring a family to any of our nine locations. You can get more information about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com, and why not start referring your friends today by clicking one of the share buttons below?

What Are Reading Circles?

Our Preschoolers Can Read, and that’s a fact!

What are Reading Circles? Let’s find out! In a sentence: Reading Circles are the heart and soul of Grace Community School’s reading program. The powerful combination of phonics, one-on-one attention from a trained teacher, and the breaking down of the alphabet into small sections makes for fluent readers at an incredibly young age.

A common misconception is that kids can’t learn to read until elementary school. This is simply not true! At Grace Community School, children learn to read as young as three years of age. We’re not talking about memorizing sight words here; we mean actually being able to read new words by “sounding out” the letters phonetically. This makes it possible for the child to read even a word he or she has never seen before! The confidence this instills in kids is incredible. They start to believe that anything is possible.

In Reading Circles, we break the alphabet down into easy-to-learn groups of letters to help the children learn faster. Image: Canva

Reading Circles start with Grace Community students as young as two years old. Reading Circles start at the most basic level, the alphabet. The alphabet is divided into five sections, beginning with the vowels. Students learn not just these letters, but more importantly the sound that goes with each letter, along with a clue word to aid retention. By breaking the alphabet down into smaller sections and providing one-on-one time with the teacher each day, children learn quickly and progress through the Reading Circles at their own pace. Once one group of letters is learned, the child moves on to the next group until all twenty-six letters and sounds have been learned. Children receive certificates suitable for framing after each Reading Circle level is passed.

Next comes a series of beginner books called “Little Books.” In these books, “blends” are introduced: putting consonants and vowels together. After this, simple one-vowel words are taught. Once the students have mastered the Little Books, more advanced series of books are begun, leading all the way up to the kindergarten reading books and more complex words.

Because the kids learn at their own pace, they are never pushed too fast or held back; the instruction is always right at the child’s personal level. The result: kids who read! The certificates and books the kids take home keep parents informed of their children’s progress, and the kids love them! We hear all the time about how they read their books over and over at home. Parents can barely believe that three and four-year-olds are reading actual books!

We love to hear about the excitement parents have when they realize their child is truly reading. Maybe it’s in the grocery store when their child starts reading the label on a jar, or in the car when their child sounds out the words on a street sign. It’s a great feeling — there is nothing more precious than a child’s learning.

Nothing builds self-esteem for a child better than being able to read!

The A Beka phonics program that we use is at least two grade levels ahead of the public school. Each year, many of our students graduate from the pre-K program already reading the A Beka kindergarten books. This means they are reading at a third-grade level, something quite common with our students. It is not unheard of for our kindergarteners to graduate reading the second-grade reading books. Our students not only learn to read, they learn to read fluently. For a fluent reader, reading is not a chore, it’s a joy!

Teaching reading is what we do, and we’ve been doing it for nearly thirty years in Southwest Florida. We are excited to have the opportunity to be a part of your child’s life! You can find out more about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com. If you are a Grace Community School parent, here’s a question for you: when and how did you first learn your child could read? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Facebook!