Kindergarten students at St. John’s attend a full day program. Teachers focus on providing a positive and encouraging first year of formal education by attending to the social, academic, and emotional needs of the students. Kindergartners learn to listen, cooperate, follow directions, show self control, interact positively with others, communicate appropriately and take care of self-help tasks independently.
Students learn to read in Kindergarten through daily instruction, primarily using the Reading A to Z curriculum. A variety of other sources are also used that enrich and enhance the program. Children learn how to use the letter sounds to read and write. Phonics readers, appropriate to the children’s levels, are utilized in school as well as at home. The basic skills taught in the program are phonics, reading comprehension, letter formation, blending, decoding, sight words, and punctuation.
The rich selection of literature read aloud in class affords many opportunities for the development of comprehension skills and for group discussions and activities related to story elements. Books are selected based on curricular themes and students’ interests.
Language Arts (Grammar, Writing and Spelling)
From the first days of school, writing is presented as an extension of reading. As student skills progress, the children begin writing stories with drawings and invented spelling to facilitate expression of ideas and content over absolute precision in spelling. They also utilize their print-rich environment and classroom word walls to assist with spelling. Through guided lessons, kindergartners learn the earliest conventions in writing mechanics, including when to use capital and lowercase letters and the meaning of punctuation marks. Handwriting is taught following the Zaner-Bloser verbiage. Kindergarten children are encouraged to print using top to bottom and left to right strokes as well as using lined paper correctly.
Students learn and develop their math skills with the Savvas Math program. The curriculum provides experiences that build skills in the areas of shapes, patterns, numeration, data handling, graphing, probability, operations, measurement, money, geometry, and time. The curriculum is based on building a foundation of skills and levels of understanding which increase in complexity throughout the year. Much use is made of manipulatives, games, and hands-on exploration. Activities include verbal counting to 100, skip-counting, reading and writing numerals, identifying and extending patterns, measuring using a variety of tools, recognizing values of coins, exploring parts and whole through fractions, telling time to the hour and half-hour, identifying and comparing shapes, collecting and graphing data, and solving simple addition and subtraction equations. Problem-solving, logic, and reasoning are emphasized and students are taught the processes behind math concepts. Students learn that math is an integral part of their daily lives.
Students develop an understanding of patterns and variations in local weather and the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather. Students are able to apply an understanding of the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object to analyze a design solution. Students also learn about what plants and animals, including humans, need to survive and the relationship between their needs and where they live.
Kindergarten students first study themselves, and then their roles in increasingly larger communities: home, classroom, school, state, country, and the world. Efforts are made to develop an appreciation for oneself, as well as a respect and care for the community of the class and school. Our goals are to strengthen interpersonal relationships among classmates, to teach positive problem-solving skills, and to build compassion and empathy for each other. Students in Kindergarten rotate each year between the various countries during our International Festival studies. During the International Festival, students will be involved in a variety of activities as they explore the culture of the country they are studying.
In Kindergarten Spanish classes, students are immersed in the Spanish language. The teacher engages the students in a Spanish-speaking environment and extends the immersion outside of the classroom as well, casually conversing only in Spanish. Each learning unit includes songs, art, dance, and practicing new words while role-playing scenarios. Students also enjoy the outdoor play spaces to enhance their learning.
During kindergarten’s time in the library, students use age-appropriate apps on an iPad that reinforce math and reading skills taught in the classroom. The iPad is used for approximately 10 minutes of the 40 minute period that students are in the library.
Weekly library classes for students in kindergarten consist of a read-aloud time using picture books followed by an opportunity for book selection. Children are assisted in finding and checking out books from the picture book area and from the non-fiction sections of the library.
Kindergarten artists explore a variety of different mediums including pencils, markers, pastels, watercolors, tempera, etc. The visual arts curriculum provides the opportunity for children to learn and develop technical skills in drawing, painting, composition, and crafting. Art demonstrations and process modeling help ensure kindergarten artists understand project guidelines and the artistic processes.
In Lower School, students explore four key areas of development: music performance, music literacy, music appreciation, and classroom and global connections. Students sing, dance, and play instruments in their performances, and acquire and apply music literacy skills through development of musical vocabulary. They listen and respond to music from a variety of cultural and historical sources as well as make connections between music, their world, and the greater global community through their singing, dancing, listening, and playing. Students have many opportunities to connect to and demonstrate the Traits of Success particularly Courage, Persistence, Positive Attitude, and Attentiveness as they study and perform music.
In Kindergarten, students learn to recognize God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and His abiding love through Godly Play, a program of Biblical stories and hands-on experiences that support children in developing their connection to God on their own level. They are greeted at the door on their level. They open with a song in English, Spanish and Sign Language. They hear and respond to a Bible story using manipulatives and art. They participate in a discussion surrounding “wonder” questions which stimulate critical thinking.
In Kindergarten, movement education is the primary vehicle used for the development of locomotor and non-locomotor skills, spatial awareness, and body control. Students become more aware of their own bodies as they learn to move in their own space while respecting the space of others. A variety of manipulative objects such as beanbags, hoops, noodles, and juggling scarves are used to develop fine motor coordination. Students learn to interact together in physical activity settings as well as work independently to discover their own capabilities. Low organization and holiday games encourage teamwork, cooperation, respect, safe play, and following directions. The program encourages students to participate in and enjoy a variety of physical activities and gain a sense of self-accomplishment in a non-competitive learning environment. It is the goal of the program to motivate our students to try new activities and enjoy physical activity.
The Kindergarten students cover a variety of locomotor movements and non-locomotor skills while moving to music. The students learn about resting vs. active heart rate as they execute movement skills. Balances, tumbling, throwing, catching, kicking, and striking are also presented. Multicultural games are introduced to increase the student’s knowledge of global awareness.