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ELM Early Learning Matters Curriculum

The Early Learning Matters (ELM) Curriculum is a comprehensive, evidence-informed program to support the optimal learning and development of children from birth to five years of age. The curriculum promotes skills linked to school readiness and life success with developmentally appropriate teaching strategies and a coordinated mix of staff-guided and child-initiated learning experiences. 

ELM was developed by a team of early childhood experts led by Distinguished Professor Douglas Powell. This work occurred in Purdue University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies for the Department of Defense Child Development Program as part of the DoD-USDA Partnership for Military Families.

ELM is based on results of rigorous research, standards established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and consultations with nationally recognized early childhood experts. Extensive review of outcome research was conducted to answer two questions: What early childhood skills are linked to later positive outcomes, particularly indicators of school readiness? What early childhood classroom practices significantly support the development of early childhood skills linked to later positive outcomes for children? Experts in the care and education of young children and a range of stakeholders were consulted throughout the development of the curriculum.


The teachers and students at KOCO investigate topics  of interest throughout the school year. In lieu of a traditional lesson plan, each class decides what they already Know about a particular topic, discuss what they Want to know about the topic, and then they devise learning experiences to help them Learn (K-W-L model). Topics for early childhood investigations are ideally quite simple; recent investigations topics have included Hands, Apples, Balls, and Shoes.  


Ideas generated by each "investigation" are webbed collaboratively; the web becomes a "living document", to be added to, changed, and otherwise revised as the investigation progresses. Students control the depth and length of each investigation (topics of great interest may generate investigations of a month or more!).


Visit Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education to learn more about Investigations-style learning experiences.

Preschool & Kindergarten Readiness
104: 4-year olds
105: 3- and 4-year olds
106: 3-year olds

Preschool: full day program

Kindergarten Readiness: morning only

7:00 am – 6:00 pm Standard Program Hours

6:30 am – 7:00 am Early Opening


10:1 ratio of students to teachers

(max 18:2)

Individual cots for naptime

Stimulating room environment

  • Music, books, toys, art, fingerplays, science, math

  • Individual attention

  • Curriculum supports Connecticut Early Learning & Development Standards (CT-ELDS)

  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) compliant

  • ELM Early Learning Matters Curriculum

  • Get Set for School Curriculum

  • Investigations-style curriculum

  • Enrichment Curriculum includes American Sign Language, Story Kitchen, Literacy Program

  • Varied outdoor play areas

  • Parents provide food, beverages, spare clothes, bedding

  • Administrators certified in CPR, First Aid and Medication Administration

  • Weekly visits from Health and Educational Consultants

  • Weekly Second Step Social-Emotional Program

  • Memorial Elementary School consultations as needed

  • Quarterly enrichment visitors


"The teachers and staff at KOCO take a genuine interest in the well-being and development of our children. Every child is viewed as an individual. The teachers are very accommodating and understanding in adapting to the needs of each child. We know that with KOCO’s curriculum and dedication our children will be ready for kindergarten and beyond, both academically and socially." Michelle Kennedy, KOCO Parent

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