Kindergarteners begin the year learning about each other in the class. During this time we focus on the children as individuals as well as a member of their home cultures, and on the expectations necessary for successful classroom life. Very shortly after this the children begin to learn about the school. They take “behind-the-scenes” tours of the kitchen, the business office, the supply areas, and learn about the people and tools necessary to make the school run.
Our kindergarteners’ day is filled with literacy opportunities. When the children first gather for their morning meetings, they begin by reading a morning message, which is read aloud together. This is followed by reading and discussing the schedule for the day. Experiences such as trips or projects are usually discussed together, and the children’s words are charted for future reference. All this, plus many games and activities combine to help the children begin to understand how phonics works as well as to begin developing sight words.
“Writing workshop” starts in the fall of kindergarten. Children are encouraged to write stories based on their own experiences and interested. They start with drawing pictures and, by the end of the year, are using their phonics knowledge to write using “phonetic spelling” and sight words they have learned.
We also begin teaching handwriting in kindergarten, focusing on proper formation of the capital letters.
At the heart of our program is the curriculum Investigations in Number, Data and Space which supports students as they learn to think mathematically; manipulatives like pattern blocks, color tiles, and snap cubes, are used throughout the year. The activities are designed to give students the opportunity to explore patterns, gather and represent data, learn about geometry in the world, and begin to develop number sense by counting and using the number system.