Approaches to Learning: InvestiGator PreK promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, including behavioral self-regulation and executive functioning. For example, the Teacher Guides offer guidance on classroom organization, effective classroom management strategies, and multiple ways to support children during transitions throughout the day. The Teacher Resource Guide describes how to establish positive rules and consistent routines. Learning experiences based on stories in which the curriculum's characters (e.g., Manny Salamander, Bruno Buzzbee) face a dilemma and portray a range of feelings foster the development of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation skills. The daily schedule includes opportunities for children to choose Learning Centers that support their behavioral regulation (e.g., taking turns, following directions). However, aside from the abovementioned stories, InvestiGator PreK does not provide direction on how to support children's emotional regulation. The Social and Emotional Development Kit is offered by the publisher for an additional cost, or as part of the The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System (Just for Threes) curriculum. This kit provides guidance on how to support children's emotional regulation. An additional limitation is that the curriculum lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and those that promote open-ended exploration.
Social and Emotional Development: InvestiGator PreK promotes research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as establishing an emotionally supportive environment. The Teacher Resource Guide includes related guidance in the "Social Emotional Development" and "Establishing a Community of Learners" sections. For example, these sections suggest teachers create a climate of kindness and generosity, speak respectfully to children, and respond to them with sensitivity and patience. The curriculum offers structured opportunities for teachers to use language to foster social and emotional development (e.g., stories and discussion about the curriculum's characters). Daily routines and activities, as described in the Teacher Guides, offer many formal and informal opportunities for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills with their teachers and other children (e.g., Opening Circle Time, Small Group, and Learning Centers). However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to build secure, trusting adult-child relationships. Additionally, InvestiGator PreK lacks an intentional sequence of learning experiences to promote social and emotional learning and guidance on how to support children as they learn to regulate their emotions. However, this is provided in the Social and Emotional Development Kit, offered for an additional cost or as part of the Just for Threes curriculum.
Language and Communication: InvestiGator PreK consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication skills. Daily routines and activities (e.g., Opening Circle, Small Group, Learning Centers) provide many ongoing opportunities for rich oral language experiences as well as formal and informal opportunities for children to engage in social conversations with adults and peers. Whole-group literacy lessons offer daily opportunities for interactive read-alouds using dialogic reading, a research-based practice for promoting children's oral language development. To support children's vocabulary development, the curriculum suggests ways to use theme-related vocabulary throughout the day. In addition, Everyday Literacy and Small Group times incorporate learning experiences which use the sounds of language to develop children's phonological awareness.
Literacy: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support learning in this domain, including concepts of print, emergent writing skills, and alphabet knowledge. Daily Routines, Learning Centers, Everyday Literacy, as well as Small and Whole Group Literacy activities provide varied and meaningful opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials. For example, the curriculum offers activities such as Reading and Writing Learning Centers, shared reading of Flapboards and theme-based books, and shared writing. Activity plans for read-alouds include multiple strategies for developing critical literacy skills (e.g., asking questions about letters, words, signs, and labels; modeling reading conventions; and retelling to aid comprehension).
Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Daily lesson plans for Small Group and Whole Group include intentionally planned math learning activities, and Quick Minutes suggest ways to incorporate learning about numbers and counting throughout the day. The curriculum provides guidance on how to introduce children to key mathematical skills and concepts and offers many opportunities for practice (e.g., Quick Minutes, Learning Centers). In addition, it promotes a mathematically rich learning environment (e.g., manipulatives, blocks) and math vocabulary is introduced explicitly and utilized in suggested math learning activities. While some learning experiences offer opportunities for children to use math for a purpose (e.g., counting snacks, measuring the height of each plant), most math experiences do not involve everyday problems during routines and play, or engage children in activities that promote inquiry and creative invention.
Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development of scientific reasoning. InvestiGator PreK provides hands-on science learning experiences through Science Center, Small Group, and Investigation Launches that facilitate the development of inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. For example, the first unit focuses on what it means to investigate, and each subsequent unit has one central investigation that follows the same structure: look and ask, try it and try it again, think about it, and make meaning. Throughout these experiences, children are encouraged to document and share their findings (e.g., share verbally, draw a picture). A limitation is that many science activities, even within the Science Learning Center, have specific instructions for children to follow, leaving little room for teachers to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation.
Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development in this domain. The Teacher Resource Guide and Many Languages, One Classroom provide guidance for creating safe indoor and outdoor areas that promote children's movement and physical activity. Curriculum resources (e.g., Quick Minutes related to Music, Gross Motor Skills, and Outdoor Play) describe activities that foster the development of locomotor and gross motor skills. The curriculum also supports fine motor development through daily experiences in the Learning Centers, such as Writing, Math, and Art. The Teacher Guides offer specific guidance for health and nutrition in the Daily Routines. Quick Minutes offer the only direction for physical activity, and teachers may or may not choose to use Quick Minutes in this domain. Thus, the frequency of moderate to vigorous activity and opportunities to practice new physical skills is unclear. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can intentionally scaffold the development of children's physical skills (e.g., suggestions for modeling or specific feedback).