Throughout the day, the kindergarten girls are learning by doing. They experience an integrated balance of academic challenge and social skill development with gentle support from their teachers. A typical day includes free choice time, morning meeting, language arts, snack and recess, math, lunch and recess, science and social studies. Each day is rounded out with a variety of special classes sprinkled in, music, art, physical education, library and Spanish. The kindergarten teachers value the benefits of outdoor play time when the girls have the freedom to socialize with their classmates while the exercise helps to develop their gross motor skills. Kindergarten girls spend time every day appreciating each others’ strengths while celebrating similarities and differences. Our caring environment fosters kindness and respect toward everyone in our school community. The “Let’s Care” program supplements these important life skills.
In Lower School art, a student is encouraged to discover her own artistic voice, express herself with confidence, connect with the physical world, and think and feel in new ways. Girls are introduced to basic design principles as they mix colors, paint, draw, weave, sew, make books and construct in numerous other ways. The Art teacher works closely with homeroom teachers to plan art projects that enrich and personalize core curriculum themes. Meets twice weekly.
The Kindergarten language arts program integrates reading, writing, listening and speaking. Daily guided reading lessons allow each girl to read at the level most appropriate for her, in small, flexible groups. By focusing on specific literacy skills such as decoding, predicting, character development and sequencing, the girls build confidence, fluency and a joy for and independence with reading. Additionally, daily writer's workshop time provides mini-lessions that include teacher modeling of the writing process, followed by meaningful opportunities for each girl to use her creative ideas, phonemic awareness and illustrations to inspire her interests and confidence in writing. The girls learn a list of 55 sight words, five at a time, which supports their understanding of frequent spelling patterns and promotes automaticity with their spelling, writing and reading.
The primary goal for kindergarten is to help students feel comfortable and "at home" in the library. Books are signed out and taken home weekly. The girls learn their way around the shelves and the different sections of the library. Responsibility for the care and return of the books is encouraged. Kindergarten students participate wholeheartedly in shared reading times, and fairy tales form a central focus for the year. Meets twice a week.
Kindergarteners explore a wide range of mathematical concepts that are introduced through enriching experiences with a variety of manipulatives. Connections to literature are made whenever possible. Kindergarteners sort and classify, recognize, create and extend patterns, and build a strong number sense. They experiment with various types of measurement including length, weight, time and temperature. They are introduced to the concepts of fractions, graphing, estimation, money, addition and subtraction. Kindergarteners strengthen their mathematical thinking by working cooperatively in learning centers and by applying their knowledge and methods during independent learning situations.
In kindergarten, students strengthen memorization skills and group cooperation through music, interacting with each other by learning a variety of songs, many from other countries and cultures. Solfeggio (symbols for musical notes) is introduced through a series of hand symbols, and basic music notation is taught as well. Students perform for their parents and peers in December and late April; this encourages self-confidence and pride, as well as willingness to take chances. Meets twice a week.
The goal of the kindergarten physical education curriculum is to get students moving. The class focuses on teaching students how to cooperate in a group situation and how to relate to the teacher as a leader. Through small group activities, rhythmics, dance, tag games, bean bag games, and agility games, students engage in physical activity in an environment that allows for creative expression and encourages self-confidence. Meets three times a week.
The Lower School program uses the BSCS Science TRACS curriculum, an inquiry-based program that incorporates a variety of cooperative learning opportunities in a modular format. The program fosters the natural curiosity of children by encouraging them to investigate, study, observe and ask questions about the world around them. Hands-on activities, class discussion, independent studies, journal writing and field trips are integrated into lessons to further the understanding of given objectives. Some highlights of the kindergarten science program include: the Five Senses, Seasons, Animal Behavior in Winter, Tools and Inventions, and the Life Cycle of Chicks.
Students in kindergarten take part in a variety of social studies activities and projects to help broaden their understanding of the world in which they live by encouraging them to be aware of the role they play in both small and large communities. The yearlong theme for kindergarten social studies is "Me, My Family and My Place in the World," and topics include similarities and differences in families, map skills, and the study of a Spanish-speaking country. In addition to classroom projects and activities, students take part in field trips and technology-based programs to parallel unit studies.
The kindergarten Spanish program is designed to introduce students to the Spanish language and culture, and to solidify and expand on what they learned in Pre-Kindergarten. Units are constructed according to basic essential concepts related to students’ daily life: greetings, polite words, colors, numbers, the calendar, the weather, body parts, clothing, foods, animals, transportation, and family members. Other concepts are related to their immediate and expanded community, geographic location of countries, international holidays and traditions. The Spanish program is based on listening comprehension and oral production, book reading, songs, rhymes, movement, and echoing of words. The students at this age level are also encouraged to both read and write Spanish words. This 30-minute class meets daily.
Kindergarten students are introduced to computer skills using laptops and desktop computers. All of these computers are made as accessible as possible for our youngest students with color-coded keyboards and easy-to-find desktop icons for frequently used programs. Students work with a variety of software as well as online resources available through the Lower School webpage. Meets once a week.