The Best Kindergarten Program For Your Child
The Best Kindergarten Program For Your Child
Assistant Head of School
Early childhood education programs have a common goal — to establish a foundation for lifelong learning while protecting and nurturing the curiosity and playfulness of childhood. In highly effective Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs, teachers help children discover new concepts and make connections through developmentally appropriate learning activities. This happens daily in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms here at St. James.
Our early childhood teachers are skilled at engaging their students in meaningful and motivational classroom activities that help them develop the early literacy and numeracy skills that serve as a foundation for all future learning.
Research consistently shows that children who get off to a good start in reading and writing rarely stumble. At St. James we believe that “good first teaching” prepares our students to be successful readers and writers. A strong balanced literacy program encompasses many different types of early reading and writing activities. Through guided reading instruction, teachers work with small groups of children to support their development of effective strategies for processing new fiction and non-fiction texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. Emergent readers learn to use pictures and meaning clues, along with letter clues to independently read new words. Kindergarten students take great pride in taking home books to read to their family members. Teachers use shared reading activities, “read alouds” and independent reading activities to expose students to a variety of reading genres and to develop an appreciation for literature. All of these instructional reading practices help prepare the youngest students to be fluent, independent readers.
The foundation skills for writing, which include letter formation, hearing and recording sounds, content development and mechanics skills, are taught through interactive, modeled, and independent writing. Early childhood classrooms should be print-rich environments in which children are immersed in reading and writing activities. As Pre-K students play in their classroom centers, they participate in authentic writing activities such as labeling drawings, making lists and writing messages to friends. In Kindergarten, these activities become more structured and students begin using their letter/sound knowledge to hear and record sounds in order to compose stories. Kindergarten students learn to write across different genres. In their journals, not only should they write narrative accounts of their activities, but they should also write opinion stories and informative stories communicating information about the topics they are studying. By providing children with abundant writing activities, Pre-K and Kindergarten students learn to communicate through written expression.
In addition to a focus on early literacy, early childhood programs establish a foundation for future mathematics learning by fostering number sense in all students. Skills such as counting with one-to-one correspondence, comparing the value of numbers, estimating and recording data on charts and graphs are practiced daily in Pre-K classrooms. Kindergarten teachers establish a beginning understanding of addition and subtraction by teaching students how to decompose numbers into parts (e.g., 5 can be composed of 2 and 3 or 4 and 1). At the root of all early numeracy activities is the application of math skills to daily life. It’s not enough to teach children that one more than four is five. An effective teacher will get students to apply these skills by asking questions such as, “If you turn 4 on this birthday, how old will you be on your next birthday?” We want our youngest learners to see the relevance of early math skills in their daily lives. By structuring classroom activities that allow students to “play with numbers” and make discoveries, teacher help them develop the number sense that must be in place for the acquisition of more complex math concepts.
A good early childhood classroom should be a lively center for learning. Through free and structured play activities, students discover new concepts and develop critical early literacy and numeracy skills, while interacting with friends and having fun.
Nothing can brighten your day more than a visit to our Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms to see children happily engaged in productive and meaningful learning activities.