Apprentice Program: A Developmental Curriculum

Autism | Down Syndrome | Development Delays

Age: 3 to 6 years old

Program Description
Language Production and Comprehension

Language production is the process by which we communicate verbally and non-verbally our needs, feelings, and thoughts in our social environment. A comprehensive knowledge base is necessary for one to develop this communicative ability. This knowledge base extends beyond the act of labeling and classifying objects, people, and events. Effective communication is considered meaningful only when what is communicated by one person (the speaker) is understood by another (the listener). In this module, young learners develop strong language and thinking skills. Each lesson is designed to teach common vocabulary words, sentence forms and structures, sequencing, pronouns, asking and answering questions, classification, comparisons, and concepts necessary for building a solid foundation for verbal reasoning and reading comprehension.

Cognitive Development Through Play

Play is a critical component in the formation of children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Through play, children test hypotheses, engage in social interactions with adults and peers, and develop linguistic skills as they direct and narrate their play activities. This module teaches the learner specific cognitive, self-regulative processes, and communication abilities by engaging in various developmentally appropriate play activities.

Cognitive Organization and Planning

The development of cognitive organization and planning behavior is crucial for the development of learning abilities. The inability to organize and plan may have a direct effect on the learner’s ability to perform tasks and function efficiently in daily life. In this module, the learner explores and focuses attention on details through games, stories, and construction play. Through these activities, the learner is introduced to the process of developing a plan, organizing thoughts, setting goals, carrying out the activities to execute the plan while monitoring progress and making necessary adjustments to reach the goal.

Temporal and Spatial Awareness

The ability to sequence items and events assists in building cause-and-effect relationships, provides order to the world, and helps us see events in context. Simply put, the understanding of spatial concepts helps us to plan and develop a personal spatial reference point; this is a prerequisite to being able to assume others’ point of view. In this module, the learner acquires a sense of spatial orientation. Through tasks that present familiar but increasingly complex scenes, he or she is asked to identify positions in the space, using a known or mediated vocabulary: up/down, right/left, inside/outside, above/below, etc.

Qualitative and Quantitative Concepts

The ability to see that the world possesses qualitative and quantitative concepts is paramount in one’s ability to recognize that objects have specific attributes (i.e., color, size, shape, speed, etc.), that they can have shared attributes, and that quantitative concepts assist in a mathematical understanding of the world. In this module, the learner is introduced to basic math concepts such as numbers, amounts, and how to put things in numerical order. From there, he or she advances to using these concepts to help measure, quantify, and organize things and experiences in daily life. The learner develops the ability to identify and classify objects and events according to certain prominent and distinguishing characteristics.

Comparative Behavior

The ability to compare is an important prerequisite to tackling any learning or problem-solving task. Comparative behavior enables the learner to move from simply recognizing objects and events to establishing patterns and relationships among them and organizing and integrating information into existing knowledge. In this module, the learner practices identifying similarities and differences in a systematic way and learns to define and compare things based on such characteristics as size, shape, color, speed, weight, texture, direction, number, function, and feature.

Story Telling

The ability to understand and tell stories is critical to learning cultural knowledge. Storytelling makes it easier to communicate ideas and provides a medium to practice social, emotional, and cognitive skills.  In this module, a learner will attend to auditory and visual stories and learn how to describe and sequence events in logical order and recognize when an event is not in sequence; how to identify the causal relationship between events; and how to retell the story logically.

Empathy Skills

The ability to learn is largely dependent on the ability to process and express emotions, which is the key to participating in verbal and non-verbal communication and is considered the foundation for reciprocity within a social interaction. In this module, the learner develops the ability to express feelings toward people and the environment and interpret and respond to a broad range of emotions.

Perspective-Taking Through Play

Perspective taking involves the ability to infer the thinking behind the social actions of people and the related consequences. In this module, the learner develops the ability to comprehend concepts related to desires, feelings, thinking, knowing, and believing. The learner begins by viewing objects in diverse ways and then transfers the concepts he or she learns to help consider the feelings, viewpoints, and perspectives of other people.

Social Language

Communication is a process that involves more than just a simple exchange of words or phrases. It involves everything from our tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and a host of other non-verbal cues to convey what we are thinking and how we are feeling to the receiver of our message. Social language explores how we use language to achieve social goals. It includes subjects like how different contexts and audiences affect communication, how to best compose messages, and how different messages can be used. In this module, learner explores verbal and nonverbal strategies to communicate with other people to share the purposes, goals, and objectives related to a specific social situation.

Problem Solving & Self-Control

Self-control of one’s behavior is necessary in developing social competency later in life. It involves teaching children to think about their own thinking and behavior, and to respond appropriately to a present situation. In this module, the learner develops physical self-control and then learns how to apply it and practice it in different social situations to control impulses, transition properly from one activity to another, modulate emotional responses appropriately, and engage in systematic problem solving rather than trial-and-error behavior.

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