Kindergarten is a time of great change. The typical Kindergartener is expansive intellectually, enjoys developing abilities and practicing skills, and often experiences an explosion in language learning. The Kindergarten program honors the individual child and provides a stimulating and supportive learning environment. Based on the International Baccelaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), the curriculum provides a framework for inquiry-based learning that focuses on the development of the whole child, both in the classroom and in the world outside.
The Kindergarten reading curriculum is based on the SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonemic Awareness and Sight Words) reading program, the Scholastic Guided Reading Program, and Junior Great Books. Students are ensured continuous progress because the program’s resources meet their individual needs, from naming upper and lower case letters to forming words by articulating and blending letter sounds, to reading simple stories. Students enhance their strong phonemic awareness with rich read alouds and leveled readers. Journal writing is an important part of the daily routine.
Mathematics is more meaningful when it is rooted in real life contexts and experiences, and the Math In Focus series provides a strong foundation in problem-solving. This program utilizes a hands-on approach to mathematical ideas and offers students a variety of activities that help them learn concepts of number sense, operations and computations, data and chance, measuring, money, geometry and pattern functions.
The inquiry-based Kindergarten science curriculum offers authentic lab work to budding scientists. The program emphasizes a range of skills including observing, comparing and contrasting, predicting, sorting, and the beginnings of ordered thinking. Topics are integrated into the classroom transdisciplinary themes, and students experience exciting moments in the lab with activities such as using clay and tape to see students’ fingerprints, investigating insects, and learning about the human body.
Kindergarteners have Spanish lessons twice a week. They sing songs, play games and engage in various activities in Spanish that are related to themes of study such as greetings, animals, food or clothing. Cultural exploration includes a variety of activities including performing a Mexican folk dance in authentic costume.
Kindergarten students use iPads as an educational tool throughout the year and are introduced to computers in January. In their weekly visits to the technology lab, Kindergarteners use developmentally appropriate software to learn mouse and keyboarding skills. Lessons are integrated into the classroom curriculum to enhance learning.
Teachers recognize students’ unique learning styles and assist them in reaching their full potential by helping them develop strategies for success. Learning resources are also available from Learning Specialists, who provide both extra challenges and extra support with specific skill work as necessary. Social/emotional resources are also available from the Lower School Counselor, who offers parent education; meets with teachers, individual students, small groups and entire classes; and provides the social/emotional support that helps children feel secure, successful and happy.
Kindergarten students visit the library once a week for storytime and book checkout. During group story time, a wide variety of stories induce discussions of thematic content, unfamiliar vocabulary, and "what happens next.” During independent library time, Kindergarten students begin practicing library etiquette as well as familiarizing themselves with book selection, checkout, and careful handling of materials.
Kindergarten art lessons provide imaginative outlets, creative expression, cultural exploration and the opportunity experiment with a variety of artistic techniques. Kindergarteners explore line, shape, color, texture and form using a variety of media such as crayon, watercolor, color pencil, oil pastel, tempera painting, collage and clay. Students are supported as they develop the motor skills necessary to create art. At least one artist is introduced each year as an art history and appreciation component to the class.
Kindergarten musicians begin to explore reading and writing musical notation. Students expand their ability to match pitch by beginning to learn the Kodaly/Kurwin pitch names and hand signs. Kindergartners also have formal musical performance opportunities, including their first theatrical presentation. Composition and improvisation as well as dancing and movement are an integral part of the music program. Orff instruments are used in the program from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Private music lessons are also available for an additional fee.
Kindergarten students begin to develop fundamental movements and basic body management competency. They learn to perform locomotor (traveling) and non-locomotor (movement in place) skills at the beginning level and to follow directions and rules, practice safety and cooperate with their classmates. PE classes encourage joy in physical activity, responsibility and participation.
Kindergarten swimmers are at a range of levels, from bubble blowing to competent strokes; therefore the program is designed to safely meet the needs of individual students. The program includes all aspects of water and pool-side safety. After-school swim clubs are also offered for Kindergarten through Grade Five.