Our Kindergarten Program is an alternative to the public school. Our Junior Kindergarten and Kindergartners enjoy the benefits of being in a combined classroom.
At this age, play continues to provide children with a strong path to learning and the mastery of important skills. Children learn from self-directed problem solving and experimentation. The Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten environment is filled with exciting hands-on experiences and opportunities for active exploration, allowing for investigation and creativity. Different levels of ability, development, and learning styles are expected, appreciated, and taken into consideration when designing activities.
We start each class gathering for the Morning Meeting. This quiet time together helps create a sense of unity and encourages our connectedness together as a School Family. At this time we do our “morning message” which is an interactive writing time to model concepts about print and good literacy skills. We also do calendar and math skills, weather, shared reading, poems, songs, listening skills, phonemic awareness, sight word practice and identification. We also do our Job Chart Procedures/Guidelines (Meeting Helper, Line Leader, Caboose, Light Helper, Door Holder, Center Checker, Snack Helper). We discuss our themes and give children an overview of the day’s activities. We also discuss the Character Development Theme and Composer of the Month.
During “Choice Time”, children choose among centers such as the Writing Table, Touch Table, Blocks, Puzzles and Games, Reading/Listening Center, Art Creations, or Science/Investigation. Learning about math, science, social studies, health, and other content areas are all integrated through meaningful activities such as those when children are building, measuring sand, water, or ingredients for cooking, observing changes in the environment, sorting objects for a purpose and exploring nature, animals, plants and water.
The Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten Program fosters emergent literacy development and provides a variety of opportunities to experience the enjoyment and usefulness of reading and writing, thus preparing for reading, the cornerstone of all future learning. An abundance of activities are provided to develop language and literacy. Our literacy program includes teaching concepts about print, reading books (chapter books, picture books, big books, CD stories, etc…), learning sight words, journaling, phonemic awareness activities through music, poems, listening activities and rhymes. We also have guided reading with our “Reading A-Z” books which are leveled readers that are just right for each child’s level. These are sent home to read with an adult and need to be brought back to school. Individual expectations and tutoring is provided according to each child’s ability and level.
Reading is encouraged and occurs as children investigate and experience print and enjoy many forms of literature. Small discussions occur to help children to formalize and verbalize their own thoughts, expand their thinking, develop imagery, and promote oral problem solving. Writing is fostered at each child’s individual pace. We instruct children in the proper formation of upper and lower case manuscript letters, word spacing, and legibility. The Handwriting Without Tears method is used. Teachers are careful to follow each child’s level of development as reading and writing skills emerge. Students write in journals daily and are encouraged to write words, do inventive spelling, and write phrases which will eventually become sentences. At the end of Center Time children draw or write about something they made or did in the Center (writing for a purpose). They share the journals during our daily Closing Meeting.
A hands-on math curriculum focusing on concepts and math terminology. We use different games and classroom materials to keep the children engaged, and to make learning more fun! We also use practical math in our “JK/K Store”, which gives the children an opportunity to apply their math skills.
Children have daily opportunities for aesthetic expression and appreciation through the “Language” of music. The children enjoy a number of musical activities on a daily basis where they can learn about different forms of music. A different classical composer is presented each month. Students learn facts about each composer, the titles or works he created, and their individual style while listening to the Composer of the Month’s music daily. The class also has a music enrichment class every other week from our Music Teacher, Mrs. Kate Zimmerman.
A variety of art media is used for creative expressions encouraging our children to understand the many varied art forms and ways to express themselves as individuals, where art has its true meaning. The children have exposure to a different artist each month and engage in a creation of art using similar techniques to the “Artist of the Month”.
Learning a second language is not only fun, it also teaches an appreciation for another culture. Therefore, Spanish is an important part of the Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten curriculum. Students also enjoy learning the Language of Sign, which improves fine motor skills and encourages children to develop compassion for others.
Children learn how to be environmentally mindful and respectful of our planet earth. We teach children what it means to be “green”, the concepts of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and help them to implement these concepts within their daily lives to make the earth a better place. The children learn that the steps they take today have major repercussions on the health and well being of their future and the future of the earth.
Yoga is introduced and practiced by the children in the classroom. Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, balance, and body awareness. In addition, their sense of calmness and relaxation improves increasing concentration and focus, thus improving learning. Yoga also encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that is noncompetitive. Children will jump at the chance to assume the role of animals, trees, flowers, and warriors. Yoga postures stimulate children’s imaginations and improve their physical and neurological skills.
Outdoor activity is planned daily so children can steadily develop gross motor skills, learn about outdoor environments, and express themselves freely without the need for using their “indoor voices”.
Character development is a key component of the curriculum as the children focus on one concept each month. Concepts such as patience, trustworthiness, honesty, respect, generosity, fairness, caring, courtesy, citizenship, gratitude, optimism, determination, freedom, and love are put into practice daily within our School Family. The Second Step Program is taught. This curriculum teaches social and emotional skills for young children providing a foundation for awareness and recognition of personal needs and building confidence in communication with others. Children are provided many opportunities to develop social skills such as cooperating, helping, sharing, negotiating, compromise, respect for other’s rights and feelings and talking closely with their teachers and their peers to solve interpersonal problems.
In the Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten Program, our goal is to strengthen each child’s developing fine motor skills, verbal skills, preliterate skills, and to help each child further develop socially. Learning caring, compassion and respect for others. Most importantly, our goal is to build each child’s confidence, autonomy, and sense of self.