The Kindergarten language arts program is designed to balance the needs of the students as they learn to "unlock" the code of the written word with their innate excitement for learning. Working in small groups, the children visit various centers during the course of a week; reading, writing, and art activities are all integrated into a single topic. Phonics instruction and small guided-reading groups provide the foundation. Students practice their newly acquired skills reading literature books that are selected because they tie into the thematic unit. Students learn to use context and pictorial clues to enhance their comprehension because reading is much more than just decoding. Our goal throughout the Lower School is to teach children not only to learn to read, but to read to learn.
Through Writer's Workshops and a variety of creative writing activities, the children have many opportunities to practice using written language. At the beginning of the year, many children may use inventive spelling to tell their tales, but as the year progresses they begin to apply the conventional spelling skills they have learned. Handwriting skills are reinforced along with proper spacing and punctuation.
In math, students use a variety of concrete materials and Kindergarten-life situations as they learn to "think" mathematically. Students develop and solve addition, subtraction, and real-life problems, learn to recognize and use money, construct geometric shapes, classify, make patterns, and estimate. They learn proper number formation and skip counting using different patterns. Children are frequently paired to play various math games, and math is seen as something we "do."
Social Studies and Science
Because we use a thematic approach in designing our learning program, social studies and science are integrated into each unit. Students in Kindergarten study three main units during the year, which include the Garden, Animals, and the Ocean. Two mini-units, Holidays Around the World and an Author Study, are also woven into the year. During each, there are visits to the science lab for specially designed lessons with the science teachers along with art and music experiences specifically developed to enhance the study of each theme.