Kindergarten at PNCS
by Gerda Griffiths, Classroom Teacher for Pre-K and Kindergarten
Our kindergarten program continues the process that, for some students, begins with Pre-K, as students start spending time at school. Our status as a private, independent, Christian school gives us the ability to design a small kindergarten where students quickly feel at home. We are careful to preserve innocence and trust. It is important that children find that learning is delightful and that they are gently guided to learn to work in a group setting. In all subjects we endeavor to use both our inside and outside "classrooms," for there is much to learn!
In our combined pre-k/kindergarten classroom, we teach stories from the Lord's Word which instill many things we need to know in life. The children learn that God loves them and wants them to be happy. They learn how to treat others and themselves with care and respect. They learn to take care of the world and to appreciate the earth with which they have been entrusted.
- Jamie F., PNCS Mom
They learn disciplines such as writing, letters, numbers, social studies, and science. In all of this, we encourage the sense of wonder and curiosity that is so natural for children of this age. Where the kids' loves and interests are is where they will learn the best.
Our classroom meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30am - 3:00pm We find this to be a suitable schedule for children this age, as it leaves the two days in between to allow children to have necessary down time.
The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten curriculum is designed for a multi-grade classroom. Learn more about the multi-grade classroom model used by PNCS.
|8:30 - 8:40||Pledge of Allegiance and whole school morning announcements|
|8:40 - 9:25||Worship and project|
|9:25 - 9:40||Circle Time - organized group activity|
|9:40 - 10:15||Bathroom break, Snack time, Recess begins at 10:00|
|10:15 - 10:40||Math|
|10:40 - 10:50||"Move Your Body" (otherwise known as silly time!)|
|10:50 - 11:20||Language Arts|
|11:20 - 12:00||Share time, then Free Play|
|12:00 - 12:40||Lunch then Recess|
|12:40 - 1:10||Quiet Time|
|1:10 - 1:45||One of the following: Science, Social Studies, Character Development or P.E. (P.E., which we have once a week, actually goes until 2:15)|
|1:45 - 2:35||Free Play and Afternoon Snack time|
|2:35 - 2:50||Classroom Duties and pack up backpacks|
|2:50 - 3:00||Closing story or Discussion time|
Each day begins with a brief chapel service. Students participate by preparing the worship area and sometimes acting out the stories in simple ways. We highlight stories of the Old and New Testaments as well as special units around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter and about Heaven. With each unit students also learn to memorize small portions of the Scriptures. After worship we move to the tables for an art project that reinforces the story we just heard. Throughout our activities we work to inspire an affection for the Lord as our loving, heavenly Father.
Each week we introduce a letter of the alphabet. We use a combination of a phonics-based approach and a program called "Handwriting Without Tears," a multi-sensory curriculum developed by an occupational therapist named Jan Olsen who created this program to help children more easily learn to write. Students learn the letter sounds and practice writing the upper case and then lower case letters, as their abilities grow. Students explore the letter through stories, manipulatives, work sheets, art projects, observations, games, acting, listening to tapes, seeing words written, songs, poems, and more. Language development comes from listening and speaking as we do these things throughout our day. The students also compose their own stories by dictating to older students who come in at planned times to act as scribes. This is the students' first exposure to composition writing, and is a good learning experience for the older students as well.
Care is taken throughout the language arts curriculum that each child may learn at his/her own skill level. This allows children to gain confidence in their abilities and to see that each person has his/her own strengths. They learn to encourage and support each other.
We use an activity-based mathematics program called "Everyday Mathematics" developed through the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. This program introduces students to many mathematical concepts in a hands-on, applied way. Students do math games, learn songs and poems about numbers, hear stories with numbers, write numbers, count, but mostly they try using mathematics in many different, real-world situations. This method places mathematics learning right in the midst of their varied, enjoyable, and understandable world where it belongs. The mathematics program covers the following general subjects, accommodated to the students' states and needs:
- Patterns and Functions
- Clocks and Calendars
- Data and Chance
Students also learn about some interesting number facts and recurrences in the Word.
Science and Social Studies
Our science curriculum provides many opportunities to explore and emphasize the wonders of the Lord's creation. And our social studies curriculum is intimately connected since the human race is the Lord's greatest creation. We help the students expand their awareness of the world around them as well as people of the world, both living and historical. The science and social studies is a spiralling curriculum: the topics are taken up again in elementary school in deeper and expanded ways to accommodate growing minds. In the Pre-K/Kindergarten years the subjects are taught alternately to provide variety for students who are in the program two years. Over the course of two years, the subjects we learn are:
- Solar System and Space Travel
- Weather and Seasons
- Basic body structure
- The Five Senses
- Rocks and Fossils
- The Earth & Recycling
- New Life from the Lord
- Native Americans and Pilgrims
- George Washington
- Abraham Lincoln
- Veterans and Our Country
- Johnny Appleseed
Instead of teaching art as a separate subject, we integrate artistic activities throughout each day. Students work with various media to enhance studies in all subjects. Some of the media used include paints, clay, recycled boxes and paraphernalia, crayons and pencils, sewing needles, fabric, and weaving. (This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of the variety of exposure.)
Music has a big part to play every day in our classroom. We learn songs for worship. Songs teach us letters, rhymes, numbers and other ideas. And certain types of music are played during the day to indicate what time of day it is and what we are doing. One example being that quiet music is played during "Quiet Time." The children also get to learn more songs, dances, and rhythm with their music teacher, Mrs. Cyndi Glenn, once a week.
Of course character development happens throughout the day as the children learn to work in a group. For some students this is the first experience of this. Teachers help guide them in making good choices and in sorting things out when problems arise. In addition, two curricula are used on alternate years which help the children to understand themselves and others. One year we do a unit based on the book "Just Because I Am" by Lauren Murphy Payne, which helps children see themselves as vibrant, capable, and worthy of love. It affirms each person's set of unique qualities. This is a self-focused unit, perfectly suited to this age group. The next year we do a unit on "The Kindness Curriculum," a book by Judith Ann Rice. With this unit the children learn not only about who they are, but how they fit into society, and what they can do for other people. This is a more outward focused unit and stretches the students to look beyond themselves. Both units are enhance by teaching the children that the Lord loves them always, and with the Golden Rule, "You shall love the Lord your God... and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-40
Time and Place for Play
Each day there is time for the valuable and popular activity of free play. This allows each child a chance to develop a sense of self-initiation and exploration and to learn to interact with classmates, developing important social skills. Free play times happen four times throughout our day - twice in the classroom and twice at whole school recess. We also have time for guided play which builds physical and social skills. This includes circle games, movement to music, hopping, skipping, jumping, and running games with simple equipment.
Physical Education (P.E.)
Once a week our class is joined by the first/second grade classroom to form a bigger group in which we can learn organized sports and health. Some of the sports taught are soccer, kick ball, baseball, circuit, jump rope, yoga, and basketball as well as activities that encourage the students to work together to accomplish a goal. Good sportsmanship is taught and is highly rewarded.
Quiet time provides some down-time for the students. They are required to be on their mats and stay quiet, both quieting their minds and their bodies so that they may recoup physical and mental energy used during their busy morning. No interaction is allowed among students during this time which allows everyone a time of rest before resuming with the afternoon activities.
Highlights and Special Times in Our Year
Following are brief descriptions of special events and times throughout our school year:
- Field Trips - these enhance the absorption of some of the things we learn in the classroom. We usually take three or four throughout the year to a farm, to museums, the zoo, and to the International Children's Festival.
- Performances - There are usually at least three times in a year when parents are invited to see their children perform in a play or singing group: The autumn Harvest Festival, Christmas Program and Spring Tea. These times are favorites and are always remembered by the children long after they are over.
- Project Week - Our class joins the entire school during one week in the early spring, and all learn one subject. Projects and performances are made, practiced and prepared, and then are shown to parents who are invited to "Project Night" the next week. Some examples of subjects focused on int the past are aviation, Canada, inventions, books, Scotland, Pittsburgh, homes, and the ideas in the book titled The Richest Man in Town by V. J. Smith. This is always a grand time for the children to interact in working on projects with the older students in the school.
The endeavor in our students' first years of formal learning is to to offer them a happy experience so that learning is fun, and that the things they learn can be used to enhance their lives and the lives of others.