Early Childhood (Pre-K, Kindergarten & 1st Grade)
Young children learn through exploration and play. Our early childhood program provides a unique responsive classroom experience for children through hands-on, discovery-based methods of learning and interaction with peers. Our students develop strong academic skills and knowledge, and a curiosity for learning. Most importantly, they have fun while they grow in resilience, creative thought, and resourcefulness.
Highlights of Our Program
- Learning Through Play
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students enjoy learning through purposeful play and constructive learning activities that guide them through two types of student-led inquiry: information gathering and wondering. We review previously taught skills and concepts in math, literacy, handwriting, social studies, and science in one-to-one (teacher/student) or small groups. Classrooms are joyous places for learning, equipped with centers for literacy, science, engineering, manipulative work, sensory play, and exploration. Upon graduating from our Early Childhood program, every child is prepared for a more structured academic experience in our lower school.
- Community Contributions
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students share responsibility for themselves, their peers, their classroom, their teachers, and their community. Every student rotates through jobs such as Veterinarian (responsible for caring for class pets), Gardener (responsible for classroom plants), Electrician (responsible for lights), Table Captain (responsible for materials), and Meteorologist (responsible for sharing news about the weather). Participation teaches leadership, responsibility, perseverance, resilience, and stewardship and helps to build a sense of excitement, belonging, and ownership of the classroom.
- Morning Meeting
Our students come together each morning for a Responsive Classroom-based meeting. During this time students greet each other warmly, engage in sharing and community-building activities, and read a morning message composed by the teacher. The morning message is an important means for developing students’ abilities in using language by encouraging them to listen and talk to others within the group, and begin to build their knowledge of reading and writing. Morning meeting activities also show students what it means to be part of a learning community as they take turns, help each other, and appreciate the accomplishments of their peers.
- Special Area Classes
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students attend special classes weekly, including art, Spanish, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), library/research, music, physical education, and assembly.
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students engage in balanced literacy activities that are designed to build their reading and writing skills, through daily writing activities, conferencing regularly with teachers, listening to stories, participating in small group guided reading groups, and dramatic play. Literacy skill acquisition is developmental; students accelerate at their own pace while still being challenged to meet benchmarks and beyond.
Our students learn math concepts through hands-on activities, preparing them to easily transition to the Math in Focus curriculum that is used beginning in first grade. Students are exposed to all types of math (number sense, number stories, measurement, money, geometry, estimation, sequencing, classification and patterns), and conceptual understanding is further developed through doing individual work with the teacher or in small groups. Through portfolio assessment work and sharing with peers, students become adept at thinking strategically about problem solving.
- Fine Motor Skills Building
Students practice hand and finger activities that support the development of fine motor skills. Activities such as sewing, small object manipulation, cutting, working with clay, and using tools to screw, lace, or string beads help our students work on dexterity and finger strength. These activities are the basis for developing proper pencil grasps for use in handwriting practice.
Twice daily, students participate in active and creative play outdoors with their peers. This also provides an opportunity for teachers to encourage socialization and to mentor students in using appropriate problem-solving skills.
- Lunch and Snack
Eating together in the classroom provides time for socialization and practicing proper mealtime conversation and table manners.