The theme in Kindergarten is Art and Me. The children develop an understanding of art as a means to express their personal world, ideas, and emotions. The emphasis is on exploration and exposure to a new visual language, perceptions, materials, and the world of art and artists. The children grow in the value: I am a creative person.
Kindergarten uses a balanced reading and writing program involving: reading, writing, speaking, observing, illustrating, experiencing, doing, and creating. Shared reading, customized guided reading instruction, independent reading, and Orton-Gillingham method of phonics instruction make up the different components of the program. The writing program includes Writing Workshop, journal writing, the Daily News, and Handwriting Without Tears.
In Kindergarten, we use Lucy Calkins' Writing Workshop curriculum. The curriculum emphasizes writing as an ongoing process in which students follow a given set of procedures for planning, drafting, editing, and publishing their writing. Collaboration with peers and conferencing with teachers is inherent, and student choice is viewed as highly important. Children are encouraged to focus their writing on topics they want to communicate to others. Teachers use “teachable moments” and student writing as examples.
Kindergarten reading instruction is an opportunity for teachers to support small groups of students in learning, applying, and practicing directly taught and effective reading strategies while they read from an appropriately leveled book. Guided reading allows teachers to meet the individual reading and skill needs of each student.
The phonics program, based on the Orton-Gillingham method, uses a multi-sensory approach for directly teaching individual phonetic concepts as well as instruction on high-frequency non-phonetic words. Students are then guided to apply these skills to first decoding and then encoding text. Students are taught to correctly form and write the letters that represent those sounds. Word sorts, word dictation, and sentence dictation help to reinforce the phonetic concepts that are taught.
The Kindergarten mathematics program develops in children their emerging abilities to count, match, sort, order, compare, do simple addition and subtraction, see patterns, and understand space and time. We use Singapore Math, which emphasizes a logical progression of mathematical concepts from the concrete through the pictorial phase, and finally, to an abstract understanding of each concept. These experiences lay the foundation for symbolic understanding, as well as help children to develop strong number sense and confidence in their mathematical abilities.
Music is an integral part of the Kindergarten day and teaches teamwork, discipline, creativity, and self-esteem skills that transfer to all aspects of life. Kindergarten music is key to acquiring language as well as refining gross and fine motor skills. Through singing, moving to music, creating music, and the opportunity to participate in several performances throughout the year, children acquire musical skills and knowledge by doing.
Kindergarten physical education focuses on gross motor activities, proper throwing mechanics, good sportsmanship, and listening and following directions. As the children become more aware of movement in space, games of low organization are added.
In the Kindergarten religion program, the children are helped to increase their awareness of self, others, the world, and God. They develop a sense of prayer and celebration. The class begins each day with a morning prayer, and grace is said before lunch. Children are introduced to the love of God as revealed through their families; through Creation; through Jesus, God's son; through their senses; and through the Christian community. Weekly religion units are designed to enhance these objectives with integrated lessons involving art, literacy, movement, and music.
The Kindergarten science program grows out of and builds on the children's innate desire to find out about their world. At Full Option Science System (FOSS) centers, children naturally use their senses to explore and experiment by manipulating physical objects and organisms. Teachers help children to develop their powers of observation and the thinking skills needed to make sense of their observations. Our FOSS unit in Kindergarten is Animals Two by Two.
In Kindergarten, children learn the beginning social skills of how to relate to one another, to share and play cooperatively, and to respect individual differences. They are given many opportunities to interact with each other: to lead and to follow, to communicate respectfully, to practice making choices, and to begin to resolve their own conflicts. The children learn to see themselves as part of a class, part of the school community, and part of the larger community in which they live. They begin to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to become a good citizen and to participate in, and contribute to, their class, their school, and their neighborhoods. Units and lessons emphasizing the above skills are custom designed and integrated throughout all areas of the curriculum on a daily basis.