New Beginnings offers academic subjects including reading, mathematics, language arts literacy, social studies, science, health and life skills. The overall approach to instruction is eclectic, with the individual needs of each student being paramount to instructional design. New Beginnings provides comprehensive learning settings from ABA and Discrete Trial Teaching to more traditional learning environments. All subjects are taught using a variety of instructional methods, including Discrete Trial Teaching, large and small group instruction, multiple and natural context approach, the cued-structured modality approach, differentiated instruction and a balanced literacy foundation.
New Beginnings utilizes a variety of curriculum resources such as Scott Foresman Reading Street, Scott Foresman Mathematics , Scott Foresman Science, and the McDougal/Little series for Social Studies. New Beginnings also uses many supplemental resources in order to maximize access to student potential. The following ancillary materials/series are currently being used at New Beginnings: Handwriting Without Tears (handwriting program for students with fine motor challenges) and for the struggling readers, The “EGGS” Program, Explode the Code, and The Wilson Reading Program. The list of ancillary materials is always growing, through a perpetual mining for new materials, as dictated by the New Beginnings eclectic instructional approach and design. All materials and lessons are aligned with the New Jersey Common Core State Standards and No Child Left Behind requirements. New Beginnings is a state approved testing site for all of the New Jersey Statewide Assessments (ASK, HSPA and APA).
New Beginnings is committed to the delivery of literacy based academic experiences across the curriculum; and to support this design, there are reading specialists on staff to provide highly specialized literacy instruction to the most challenged readers.
The Language Arts Literacy experience at New Beginnings is fully aligned to the New Jersey Common Core State Standards. The NB Language Arts Literacy Program includes literature based language arts, storytelling, journal writing, authentic writing in context, Writers’ Workshop, Readers’ Workshop, The Columbia Writing Project, discussion groups and electronic media viewing.
The Mathematics programs at New Beginnings focus on developing sound numerical and operational foundations. The foundations are the supports for the progression onto situational mathematics which encompass basic algebraic and geometric principles. The New Beginnings Mathematics progression is a fully articulated K-12 experience, which is congruent to the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.
The Science strands include general science principles, Earth Science, Life Science and Chemistry; all reflect alignment with the New Jersey Common Core State Standards. The New Beginnings Science program’s core intent is to foster independent processing of science principles, while providing students with safe and user friendly classroom based lab experiences. The Scientific Method is emphasized throughout all science experiences.
The Social Studies academic track is aligned with the New Jersey Common Core State Standards and includes the strands of Civics, Government, Human Rights, Geography, People and the Environment, Economics, Innovation, Technology, History, Culture and Perspectives. The Content includes American History, World History, Communities, and NJ History. The students will experience the Social Studies through text, electronic media, simulations and authentic oral and written assignments.
Each day the students continue their IEP-guided studies in math, reading and language arts, science, and social studies, as well as art and gym. The academic coursework is designed to ensure that our students do not lose ground over the summer, but instead, are prepared to tackle their classes in September ahead of the game.
The art course is project-oriented. Each day students are given a challenge with very few guidelines, then provided a wide array of media such as clay, paint, beads, tissue paper, scratch art, skill sticks, and crayons. They are encouraged to stretch their imaginations and to be as creative as they can. At the end of the day, the students take their projects home to share with their families.
Gym class emphasizes sportsmanship and teamwork as the students develop their physical skills. Each day a new team sport is introduced, new teams are put together, and the students are encouraged to go all out for one another in the pursuit of victory. While there are occasional tie scores, there typically is a winning and a losing team, and our students learn how to handle both situations with grace.
Achievement of academic goals, accomplishment of a creative project, and being on a winning team all contribute to the students’ sense of pride and their development of self-esteem.
During the summer we also take full advantage of the many different cultural opportunities as we make a minimum of two field trips each week to museums, libraries, restaurants, arcades and beaches. Social skills are emphasized as students are taught to be aware of their surroundings and to behave accordingly. They learn how to interact with one another and with strangers in these public places. But they also learn how the various institutions they visit work, and what hidden treasures they contain.
All areas of the curriculum at New Beginnings is infused with computer technology, based on the students’ Individualized Education Plans and the New Jersey Common Core State Standards. Every classroom and therapy room has at least two computers and more than half of the classrooms have individual laptops for each student. Teachers use computers to enhance student learning and motivation. The facility is a wireless environment so the Internet is always available. The teaching staff at New Beginnings is trained in various adaptive equipment and programs such as iPads, SMART Boards, Edmark, Touch Math, touch screens, and various augmentative devices.
Discrete Trial Teaching
Discrete trial teaching is an educational strategy based on the principles of applied behavior analysis. Each trial is a separate, distinct unit of learning which tests whether or not the student understands the concept we are teaching. Discrete trial teaching is done individually or incorporated into our daily routine.
Self-care and domestic skills are the focus of the life skills curriculum, including developing self-sufficiency for adulthood. Emphasis is placed not on the separate skill areas, but rather on their natural occurrence within daily activity. The skills are addressed in the classroom, toileting facilities, and in the life skills room. Students receive instruction in the areas of housekeeping, personal hygiene and food preparation.
Community Based Instruction
Community-based trips to supermarkets, banks, restaurants and businesses in other industries enable students to practice the transition skills they have gained within the school environment.
The pre-vocational curriculum teaches students the skills necessary for employment—generalizing learned skills to pre-vocational and functional tasks. Among the skills addressed in this area are clerical tasks; sorting, stocking shelves, assembly, and packaging. This segment of the curriculum prepares students for secure employment, supportive employment and competitive employment. Individualization of the program is crucial, as students have a wide range of skill levels.
New Beginnings also has an established in-school work program for the students who have mastered certain skills. This program allows the students to rotate through various job placements to determine which job they are best at. In-school jobs include art assistant, physical education assistant, cafeteria helper, school maintenance, front office helper, and school messenger.
The transition program at New Beginnings includes career awareness experiences where our students prepare for the world of work outside of school. Through partnerships with local area businesses, High School students have the opportunity to pursue experiences that are specifically matched to their interests and skill level.
In our newly equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen, students learn a variety of culinary preparation and presentation techniques working with foods commonly used in restaurants, cafeterias and institutional settings. In addition, students learn table service, dining room protocol and business operation for an overall introduction to the culinary arts and food services industry.
Clubs and Activities
Under the guidance of a certified art therapist, the art program at New Beginnings provides students with the opportunity to learn through the creative process. The art curriculum is designed to develop unique mental capabilities. Art production fosters higher-order thinking skills and problem solving abilities. Students are encouraged to explore media and techniques that enable them to better express emotions and ideas. Topics studied include design elements and principles, art history, cultural diversity, specific art forms (drawing, painting, design, sculpture, and crafts), and subjects such as human figure, landscape, still life, and animals. Students participate in a wide range of experiences to develop and extend their abilities to identify images and symbols in works of art, natural events and the environment, improving confidence levels.
Physical education is an important part of each student’s development and education program. Our Adaptive Physical Education program encourages independent movement activities with adaptive equipment and staff facilitation. New Beginnings recognizes that our students’ physical development goes hand-in-hand with their intellectual and social development, enhancing learning in the classroom and in therapy sessions. The program—under the supervision of a certified physical education teacher, physical education assistant, and the teachers and aides working in the students’ classrooms—teaches the children sports, age-appropriate individual and group games, physical and motor fitness skills, fundamental locomotor skills and patterns, and skills in dance/rhythm. Physical and motor fitness includes strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, hand-eye coordination, speed, and agility. Among the fundamental locomotor patterns addressed are walking, running, jumping, skipping, and patterns in throwing and kicking.
Activities are designed to teach special awareness as well as body awareness and control through the knowledge of body parts and movement. Activities are adapted to students’ developmental levels so they can receive the maximum benefit of each activity and be successful in a safe environment. Activities are structured, consistent and predictable. Each lesson is divided into components of warm-up, cool down and fitness and skills based activities. Adaptations and modifications are made to lessons based on the students’ Individualized Education Plans.
New Beginnings has developed a cooperative relationship with local boards of education and day care centers, so that New Beginnings students can join public school or day care classrooms as they become ready for the transition back to their sending districts. During these inclusion opportunities, New Beginnings students experience typical school activities and have an opportunity to model the behavior of the host children. The students in the community have the opportunity to interact with children with disabilities in a non-threatening, growth-enhancing environment.