So much of life these days is focused on hurrying children and preparing them for whatever is coming next. At The School in Rose Valley (SRV), we treasure childhood, and view Kindergarten as a special time in children’s development. We understand that five and six year olds are crossing the bridge between early childhood and the elementary years, and may at any time experience the interests and needs of either or both stages. The Kindergarten program at SRV strikes a balance between these tendencies, providing the children with a wide range of experiences in a supportive and nurturing environment.
Like preschoolers, kindergartners still need lots of time to play and explore their world, and play is a vital part of their day at SRV. In all but the foulest of weather, kindergartners play outdoors at least twice a day. During the mid-day recess, children in Kindergarten through sixth grade are outside, so there is an opportunity for cross-age play. Organized recess games are offered for those who wish to participate, including sports such as soccer and neighborhood games such as Kick the Can.
Teachers at SRV recognize the inherent value of what children choose to do when they have a choice. For this reason, kindergartners also have daily time to pursue their own interests in the classroom. Blocks, dress-ups, dolls, and arts and crafts materials all enhance the children’s imaginative play and creative projects. Teachers encourage the children to expand their play repertoire. They observe the play, note themes and tendencies, and capitalize on what they learn about individual students to inform what and how they teach. The time devoted solely to play allows children’s relationships, curiosity, independence, creativity, and individuality to truly flourish.
Children of this age also continue to require lots of support and practice with the emotional and social skills they need to function successfully in groups and school. The Kindergarten teachers hold high expectations for these youngsters and gently encourage them to develop qualities such as independence, responsibility, resilience and perseverance. Our social skills curriculum aims to instill in children the skills they need to be responsible community members. Teachers actively teach specific, age-appropriate skills such as reading social cues, sustaining cooperative work and play, and using words to solve problems.
We also believe at SRV that learning should be age-appropriately demanding and engaging. Some kindergartners already read fluently, and others still need to practice the alphabet. Because their interests and needs vary so greatly from child to child, and moment to moment, the teachers give most formal instruction to children individually or in small groups. That way, the content and approach can be geared to the children’s strengths and stages of development. The early academic learning activities in Kindergarten – from hearing stories read aloud, to writing in journals and playing math games – are active and fun.
SRV’s classrooms are bright and spacious, with large windows facing woods or fields, and at least one exit to the outdoors. Our classrooms also provide children with spaces that meet their basic physical and emotional needs. There are cozy nooks where they can retreat when they’re tired or overwhelmed, open spaces where they can build unobstructed, spaces to share and spaces to call their own.
Creating a strong classroom community is a serious focus of our curriculum, so each classroom has a cleared, carpeted space large enough for the whole group to gather in a circle. Whether they are meeting to go over the day’s schedule, listen to a story read aloud or to discuss an issue going on at recess, meeting is a time to learn the importance of active listening and group participation.
Each classroom has its own library of age appropriate fiction and non-fiction books because it is important for children to have immediate access to a wide variety of reading choices. Students also have access to the school library for a wider selection of books and periodicals.
At SRV we use work tables instead of individual student desks. Learning is often a social activity; students’ conceptual understanding of new ideas becomes much deeper when they work together with others, show their work or simply verbalize what they have learned by sharing their thinking with someone else. Seating students at tables also enables cooperative and group inquiries and problem solving.
The materials provided in each classroom invite creativity, using one’s imagination, social engagement and learning. Teachers stock plentiful and diverse art materials, and often collect promising objects from nature or recyclables. Many classrooms have musical instruments for the students to play on and science tables for them to explore. Because much of the teaching and learning is literally “hands-on,” rooms have lots of blocks, counters, scales, calculators, etc. for the students to use formally in class and informally in play.
All elementary children still need and deserve time and materials for play. Our classrooms provide the students with great open-ended playthings such as doll houses, building materials, dress-ups and games.
Children do not outgrow the desire to build. There are blocks in every classroom, located in a space where the students may build and the constructions may stay up for extended periods of time. Building with large wooden blocks helps students develop motor skills and concepts in mathematics and engineering. Because the materials and space are limited, block building usually engages groups of children, giving them opportunities to develop their social skills in sharing, negotiating and problem solving.
The Kindergarten Curriculum
SRV’s Kindergarten program fosters early literacy skills by creating an inspiring literary environment. Children become passionate book lovers through exploring the diverse classroom library, listening to daily read-alouds, sharing rich conversations about stories, and for many, by mastering early reading. Children are encouraged to write for self-expression and real-life purposes, using developmental spelling. Alphabet recognition and sound-letter correspondence are taught through games and one-on-one instruction. For a full description of the Literacy curriculum, see the Curriculum section.
Kindergartners use the Everyday Mathematics program, a curriculum used by many schools throughout Pennsylvania, to learn counting, quantity, shapes and 3D geometry, gathering and presenting data, and patterns. The children approach math through exploration of diverse hands-on materials, games, stories, and discussion. Teachers supplement the Everyday Mathematics materials with additional projects, crafts and pretend play. For a full description of the Mathematics curriculum, see the Curriculum section.
The Kindergarten Social Studies curriculum follows the same outline as the other elementary grades. The children are exposed to age-appropriate concepts in geography, culture, history, civics and governance in engaging ways. For a full description of the Social Studies curriculum, see the Curriculum section.
The kindergartners also take part in the full range of elementary Special Subjects (Science, Art, Music, Wood Shop, Spanish and Sports), and special activities. For a full description of the Special Subjects and activities curricula, see the Curriculum section.
Kindergarten Length of Day & Enrollment Options
The school day at SRV begins at 8:15. Half-day ends at 11:45, and full-day ends at 3:00. All full-day students are served lunch, which is provided by the school as part of the tuition. Extended Day programs are in place for families who need extended care before and after school.
There are two scheduling options for Kindergarten. Children may be enrolled for five full days. Or, because many kindergartners become tired towards the end of the week, children may be enrolled for three full days for Monday through Wednesday, and two half days for Thursday and Friday.