As you will see from the descriptions that follow, our academic program is one of exploration. This approach will help the children acquire social skills that will contribute to their success as students in the future. The children’s academic development is closely linked to their ability to socialize in a positive way with classmates and teachers. With an overall attention to PBL (Project Based Learning) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), our curriculum is full. We describe below some of the elements that will contribute to the richness of the kindergarten year.
In kindergarten, our goal is to teaching students the Hebrew letters, focusing on sounds, shapes, and vocabulary. We do this through the Total Physical Response Method (TPR) of teaching, as well as through art projects, songs, dancing, stories, games, and books. We cover a wide range of topics, including:
Fruits and vegetables
Blessings, prayers, and traditions
Holidays, Shabbat, and Havdalah
Stories from the Torah
Jewish values (tzedakah, gemilut chasadim, tikkun olam)
We read books, we tell stories using flannel pieces or objects and we dramatize stories with the children. Through Writing Workshop, we invite children to create their own writing pieces. We also have opportunities for Author Studies. During Reading Workshop, the children are introduced to many ways in which they can read a book. The children typically grow and develop into emergent readers by the end of the year. In kindergarten, we use the Slingerland Program as a guide for teaching letter formation. We use a variety of literature that relates to our units of study in other subject areas. For children who already read and/or write, there are ample opportunities to support and further develop their skills and enthusiasm for language arts.
Math in Focus, Singapore Math, is the curriculum used throughout the school. In kindergarten, we begin explorations that will lay a foundation for more advanced mathematical development. We begin with identifying numbers in a variety of ways. We continue with concepts such as greater and less than, length and height and math story problems. We skip count and children learn to identify and write numbers to 100. We practice grouping during our Morning Meeting as we track the number of school days. The children will learn to make a mathematical connection from the concrete to the abstract. There is ample opportunity for further development for those children who have a more advanced math foundation.
In kindergarten, we focus on building a foundation that readies our students for years of music education to come. Students learn to sing, dance, and play musical instruments using simple musical patterns and phrases. They learn to express themselves through music and explore a variety of different musical genres. Basic music vocabulary and note reading are introduced, giving students the tools they need to continue in 1st grade.
Kindergarteners practice skills that focus on locomotor development (galloping, hopping, jumping, leaping, running, skipping, sliding, and walking), as well as flexibility and movement exploration (dance and gymnastics). Students strengthen their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness by learning skills such as striking an object with precision, overhand/underhand throwing, and catching/ striking a moving object with their hands.
To help with all this development, students participate in a variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer, and street hockey.
Students participate in activities which stimulate curiosity and motivate them to investigate experiment, gather and organize data and draw conclusions based on their observations. Collaboration is central to the development of science so children often work in small groups as they develop vocabulary, clarify their ideas and carry out specifically designed exercises with materials provided. Subject areas are designed so they may integrate with a whole range of experiences the children have during the year.
Children look at their own family, the community of our classroom and then our school. We do so through literature, drama and conversation. Then, we look outside to the greater community as the children create Ir Shalom (City of Peace). This PBL (Project Based Learning) experience takes the children through the creation and development of a Jewish city of Peace. The children must decide what is necessary for a Jewish city to be peaceful. Guest speakers bring information to the children about the social support systems needed in a city; the implications of architectural style; the consideration of electric cars. We also invite people who hold professional positions in the Jewish community to explain their role in the community and the place of their organization in a Jewish city, (i.e. JCC, synagogue). The children use the Design Studio resources to actually build their buildings and vehicles as the city comes to life. Finally, the city opens and the children “inhabit it and live their plan.”
Social emotional development is a significant part of kindergarten life and takes place throughout the year, every day. We use literature, teach practical social skills and have lots of opportunities for conversation and practice. This is an ongoing experience in our classroom throughout the year.
The kindergarten technology classes include:
Offline programming with dance and robots
Learning to program with The Foos and Kodable
Storytelling with movies and pictures
Programming on iPads to support reading readiness and numeracy