Kindergarten- 5 and 6 year olds
First Lutheran’s Kindergarten is a half-day, M-F 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. program which will provide children with the continuity and consistency that best bridges the transition from preschool to first grade. The curriculum will provide challenging and successful learning experiences for students at their own level with activities and thematic units designed to integrate learning in all areas. Our curriculum will be aligned with the Washington State Learning Standards. Children attending Kindergarten at First Lutheran will be able to attend any private or public first grade the following year.
In Kindergarten we create an academically challenging program that builds each child’s self-confidence and nurtures a natural curiosity in life and learning. The child of five or six is developmentally building an identity of his/her own and learning to become independent. In addition, socializing, considering the rights and feelings of others, and learning how to resolve conflict are high priorities for this age and thus for our classroom.
As the year begins, children learn to follow class routines and schedules, to work with different people and to plan and choose activities from a wide range of materials and projects. Decision making and time management are also important skills that children learn. Through the afternoon challenge, group work, classroom jobs, and discussions during meetings, children develop a sense of themselves as individuals and as a part of a group. A notion of community continues to develop with traditions such as The Big Cheese and mixed level exchanges.
We offer open-ended questions that challenge children to think, to guess, and to estimate. I try to ask questions that have many answers. We give students some “think time” so that the child who needs more time to ponder an idea is accommodated. We encourage children to try new activities. Our teachers are there to offer students experiences for their own discovery, and to help them articulate what they have learned.
We use a thematic approach and integrate many subject areas so children can construct a meaningful and lasting knowledge of materials and acquire a multifaceted understanding of the theme. Themes originate with teacher’s interests, response to world events and children’s inspirations. We provide projects that connect the action, feeling, and thinking of components of young children’s learning. In introducing a theme of study, our learning process first considers the child’s previous knowledge or experience with a subject. Inquiry usually follows these steps: posing a question or introducing a theme to the class, finding out what the group knows about the topic, researching the theme in depth using a variety of materials and approaches then summarizing and celebrating what we have learned.
Our overall theme for the year involves focusing on the concept of Self. We start with a focus on our names, exploring the reasons why we were named as we were and celebrating why our names fit us uniquely. We explore how we look and the special beauty each of us brings to the world. We look at how we are similar and different, physically and emotionally. We will then ask the question, “What does taking care of ourselves look like?” and explore many sub-themes: Communication, Friendship, Celebrating the Diversity and Similarity Among Us, Nutrition, Exercise, Surrounding Ourselves with Beauty (Music, Poetry, Movement) and Extending Ourselves to Others. All along the way, we will celebrate our previous and acquired knowledge and pose new and deeper questions.
The classroom is a literate environment that emphasizes written and oral language. Speaking, listening, writing and reading-language arts-are processes that we use to communicate our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Group work and class meetings give children experience in expressing themselves and practice in listening and responding.
Kindergarten children have the opportunity to write daily. Interactive writing, shared writing, handwriting, copying text, making signs, lists and journal entries are some of the ways I enable early writers to begin this process in a meaningful way. Activities such as afternoon messages, brainstorming word webs, and dictated text draw attention to the written word. Guided reading helps children to become independent readers. As children connect what they hear with the symbols they see, they begin to understand the concept of the written word.
Reading takes place in a variety of contexts. On a daily basis, we share literature with the children. They have an opportunity to choose books to enjoy during “read alone.” When reading the afternoon note and environmental text, children see that reading is purposeful. The children are exposed to books that will help them discover reading as communication, enjoyment and information.
Social Studies is integrated into all areas of the curriculum. It begins with the family and gradually moves out to create familiarity with the global community. Each year’s theme helps formulate the social studies emphasis; however our curriculum also emerges from the population of the classroom, the parent resources, current events and interests of the children.
Our mathematics program incorporates the various “strands” as outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: geometry, problem solving, measurement, number, pattern, and probability presenting concepts. We show the relationship among various strands and how they interrelate. We incorporate as many previously learned skills as possible to reinforce the concepts and build upon prior knowledge. Math is integrated throughout all disciplines. As math is explored in literature, music, art, science as well as in classroom routines like the daily calendar. Children see math as a natural part of their world; therefore, we approach math as a process. Math manipulatives are at the core of the process. These materials provide concrete representations of mathematical ideas, which help children to understand and internalize concepts. Initial free exploration leads to teacher-directed activities that build upon the child’s discoveries. Group discussion of approaches and strategies helps children appreciate that there are many ways to see a mathematical problem and get an answer. Children are encouraged to take risks and make predictions. As the children experiment, they grow in self-confidence, persistence, and their ability to explain their thinking.
The Kindergarten science program emphasizes exploration, observation and recording. We use the children’s familiar environment-garden, yard, beach and park. We trace various life cycles: seasons, plants, animals and the individual child’s development.
In Kindergarten children continue their journey in learning to express themselves artistically. They are exposed to a variety of different media and are able to incorporate these into different projects. They view work from a variety of artists and join in on discussions of how to interpret the work. The exposure often influences the Kindergarten artist to explore new techniques.
Homework may be sent home in the Friday packet. It might include handwriting practice sheets, an activity related to what is happening in the classroom or a home-link math page that enhances our Everyday Math curriculum. We encourage families to spend time together on math activities. Midyear we send monthly reading pages so that families can track books and encourage at least 10 minutes of daily reading. We ask that homework be returned on Monday morning or, in the case of the reading log, returned monthly. We value this opportunity to tie home and school together and to keep parents informed. We welcome parent’s comments and concerns when the child cannot complete a task in a reasonable timeframe or when the child needs help in understanding the assignment.
Spontaneity tempered with a predictable structure and order to the school day makes Kindergarten a place of wonder and excitement and a safe place to take risks. There is time for reflection and evaluation. Our charge is to nurture the child physically, cognitively and emotionally. We try to meet each child where she/he is and to help each one grow in a safe, caring environment.