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 six core values (respect, loyalty, perseverance, empathy, responsibility, and honesty) are infused throughout the day, as Kindergarteners learn how to be good friends and to model consideration of others.
LANGUAGE ARTS & READING
Nurturing a lifelong love of reading is central to everything that we do. A print rich environment provides abundant opportunities for students to engage with the written word. Activities that promote multi-sensory phonemic awareness are an integral part of the program. The phonics-based curriculum, in which sound symbol relationships are introduced and reinforced, is taught through a variety of multi-sensory activities. Students concentrate on hearing the sound, saying the sound, and writing the sound. The phonics program focuses on short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds, and sight words. Students join in flexible and differentiated reading groups, reading a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry passages through our author study program. Small reading groups give us the opportunity and flexibility to provide personal enrichment for each child and develop comprehension skills.
Developing fine motor skills is an essential part of the Kindergarten program. The D'Nealian handwriting program is 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.
The Kindergarten is divided into three small, heterogeneous math groups, which allows for flexible and differentiated teaching. 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. Weekly homework portfolios encourage family participation and challenge students with authentic tasks and activities.
Kindergarten students engage the natural world through a sequence of hands-on activities exploring the what, how, and why of nature. They investigate natural and manufactured objects, learning to classify, describe, and find patterns. They develop sensory awareness by observing interactions and changes over time. Kindergarten students are also introduced to concepts like living vs. nonliving, as well as the cycles of the sun, moon, earth, seasons, and weather.
The social studies program traces the seasons and key events throughout the year to expose students to the natural world and other cultures. Geography skills are also integrated.
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 lunch where students use Spanish to express their needs and feelings. The Kindergarten curriculum is conversational and immersive, and each student is encouraged to engage in songs, games, and the repetition of expressions. By the end of the school year, all basic directions are 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.
Technology skills are developed in the Tech Lab, as well integrated into the classroom—and, always directly support academic learning goals. Some examples of activities include: lessons on parts of a computer and familiarity with the keyboard, navigating the Internet and various program, creative publishing using KidPix, and graphic organizers to support reading and math skills. Through the use of various hands-on activities and applications, students develop a foundation of programming and robotics skills. The technology curriculum also supports the development of fine motor skills by engaging students with various types of user interfaces.
The Kindergarten and First Grade Idea and Design Lab (K.I.D. Lab) provides an opportunity for students to develop problem-solving skills, to think creatively, and to learn from mistakes. Using the design thinking process, students tackle authentic problems, build empathy for users, prototype original solutions, and work through multiple iterations based on feedback and testing. This empowering approach to problem solving, provides innovative young minds with space to grow and explore—and, tools that benefit all areas of their learning.
Kindergartners 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 participate in activities that involve singing, playing instruments (pitched and unpitched percussion), listening, creating, and reading simple rhythms. The children are introduced to concepts such as beat, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, and tempo. In addition to two class plays, children also develop seasonal songs, musical games, dances, and perform at assemblies throughout the year.
Children in Kindergarten develop basic motor and spacial skills, as well as sport-specific skills and strategies. Students learn through drills, activities, and games. The importance of sportsmanship and consideration of others is a major component in 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 illustrator in the creation of books and complete an in-depth look at Caldecott winning books.