The Kindergarten is full of energy, wonder, and excitement. Students are invited to explore, to take risks, and to share in a love of learning. We focus on supporting the whole child and nurture each individual’s emotional, cognitive, physical, and social growth in a warm, structured, engaging, and joyful environment. Peck’s core values (respect, responsibility, care, gratitude, and courage) are infused throughout the day, as Kindergarteners learn how to be good friends and to model consideration of others.
LANGUAGE ARTS & READING
At the center of our work is a commitment to nurturing a lifelong love of reading. In Kindergarten, students are exposed to a print-rich environment that provides abundant opportunities for young learners to engage with the written word. The Orton Gillingham phonics-based curriculum, in which sound-symbol relationships are introduced and reinforced, is taught through various multi-sensory activities. The phonics program focuses on short vowel sounds and sight words. Long vowels are introduced using “silent e.” Students join flexible and differentiated reading groups, exploring a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Small guided reading groups give us the opportunity and flexibility to provide personal enrichment for each child and to develop comprehension skills. This balanced reading approach fosters growth at an individual pace.
Developing fine motor skills is an essential part of the Kindergarten program. The D'Nealian handwriting program and Orton Gillingham program are used to help students develop their letter formation, laying the groundwork for cursive penmanship in Second Grade. Many opportunities are provided for kindergarteners to express themselves through writing. Students write in journals and complete writing activities/tasks related to various units of study. Students practice and reinforce their fine motor skills through a variety of multisensory activities.
Kindergarten math is taught for 45 minutes every day. Concepts are introduced, reinforced, and enriched through concrete, pictorial, and abstract thinking. Students focus on building number sense, decomposing numbers, and problem-solving throughout the year. These concepts enable students to learn through hands-on activities, cooperation, and collaboration. Small guided group instruction allows teachers to meet individual needs and differentiate lessons. Weekly homework portfolios encourage family participation and challenge students with authentic tasks and activities.
SCIENCE, DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY
Students in Kindergarten enjoy a combined class that engages them in science, design, and technology. This co-taught class focuses on hands-on explorations of the world and introduces technology skills and digital tools which allow students to demonstrate their understanding of science ideas. Kindergarten students engage the natural world through a sequence of hands-on activities exploring the what, how, and why of nature. Principles of design provide an opportunity for students to develop problem-solving skills, to think creatively, and to learn from mistakes. Students learn to use technology to become empowered learners, responsible digital citizens, innovative designers, knowledge constructors, creative communicators, computational thinkers, and global collaborators.
The social studies program exposes students to the natural world and to cultures from around the globe. Family projects and presentations encourage students to share their culture, family makeup, and customs to foster a true sense of belonging within our classroom. Family members are also invited to join the class as readers. Students learn from each other about the origin of their name, their cultural foods, holidays, and celebrations. Family flags are generated to act as a springboard for these discussions at the start of the year. In this way, students explore the similarities and differences that make up our vibrant school community. Seasonal interdisciplinary units are also taught throughout the year. Two in-depth units focus on the penguins of the world and discovering the beauty of the Central American rainforest. The Scholastic magazine, Let’s Find Out, is shared weekly to expose students to non-fiction articles related to their studies.
Kindergarten Spanish provides a robust learning experience at a time when young minds are particularly geared toward language acquisition. Classes meet three times per week, including a special program called Vamos a Comer, where students practice using conversational Spanish during lunch. With engaging stories, songs, games, and repetition of expressions and vocabulary, the Kindergarten curriculum offers a compelling and fun language environment that helps develop confidence in all students. By the end of the school year, all basic directions are given in Spanish, and students are expected to respond in kind. The cultural aspects of the Spanish program are also woven into the curriculum, as every lower school student “travels” to three different Spanish-speaking countries during the course of the year, immersing themselves in the nuances, richness, and wonders of different cultures.
Note: For native and heritage Spanish speakers, small group instruction during class time teaches grammar, reading, and writing skills at the appropriate level with an additional teacher.
Kindergarten students are introduced to the basic elements of art in conjunction with notable artists. The development of fine motor skills is continually stressed as each child begins to learn the language of art and how it applies to the creative process. Overlap, use of a horizon line, simple perspective, composition, and color theory are introduced.
Kindergarten students musically express themselves through singing, dancing, creating, playing instruments, and performing. The primary goal of the kindergarten music program is to enable each child to fully realize their innate musical instincts, articulated as: tuneful (to sing with expression), 'beat-ful’ (to feel the beat), and artful (to respond to the expressiveness in music).
Children in Kindergarten develop basic motor and spatial skills, as well as sport-specific skills and strategies. Students learn through a verbal and visual introduction, followed by small and large group activities and games. Learning good sportsmanship, playing fairly, and developing good character traits are major components of the program.
Kindergarten students visit the library once a week. They learn to understand the basic role of the library, how to locate and select books, and the excitement of choosing something to read. Students also experience the responsibility of borrowing, taking care of, and returning a library book. Students are introduced to the role of authors and illustrators in the creation of books and complete an in-depth look at Caldecott-winning books.