The kindergarten’s central theme, “The World Around Us,” engages the students’ innate enthusiasm for learning about and making sense of the world. The children are actively involved in problem solving, observation, exploration, discovery, and creative self-expression. Classroom instruction takes place in large and small groups and is extended through individualized work with the teachers. Areas of study include math, literacy, science, social studies, dance, music, art, Spanish, physical education, library, and community service.
For our theme study (science and social studies), we focus on the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. The class explores the multi-stepped processes (such as planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing) that satisfy these needs. In our clothing unit we spin, weave, knit, and sew. Each child makes a winter hat to bring home. In the spring, we build a doll-sized model house, after exploring shelter here and around the world.
The kindergarten environment is rich in intentional literacy opportunities. In addition, literacy skills are taught in small group lessons. Two days of the week are devoted to writing, with the goal of having the children write simple sentences and stories. The children learn about sounds in words and practice the conventions of printing to strengthen their skills in spelling and handwriting. The other days focus on the multiple strands involved in reading acquisition, which include phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, phonics, sight vocabulary, attention to reading strategies through very simple text, and comprehension.
Math is taught in both whole and small groups. Focus is divided equally on math concepts, procedures, and vocabulary. Children use concrete materials and problem-solving techniques to ensure understanding and develop number sense. Kindergarten math lays the foundation for math study in many areas, including patterns, geometry, measurement, and computation. Cuisenaire rods are a manipulative used by the math program at every grade level. In kindergarten, the rods introduce the children to numbers, place values, and computation.
Children begin to develop a sense of self, discover who they are as learners, and actively engage in their classroom environment. They become contributing group members and, consequently, come to be valued for their unique qualities. Through our Open Circle curriculum, the children start to build their social skills. They interact in ever expanding circles, starting with individual friendships, their classroom community, and the school community, particularly, in their relationships with their fifth grade partners. Their community service projects expand the circle beyond the school community, reaching far into the world when they form a partnership with a school in Nevis, West Indies.
The children are together for three half days and two full days per week, with an option for an afternoon program until 3:00 and additional care until 5:30.