The goal of education in the Park Kindergarten is to stimulate the healthy growth of each child's intellectual, social, physical, emotional, and ethical powers.
At Park, First Year Kindergarten (K1) is a pre-kindergarten year. Second Year Kindergarten (K2) is the traditional kindergarten year prior to entering first grade.
First Year Kindergarten (K1) is a time for children to experience the joys of learning in the classroom, on the playground, and beyond. Park’s beautiful campus is a place for young children to investigate life cycles of creatures large and small while using a variety of materials, resources, and tools. K1 curriculum introduces children to the organization and routines of school. As the youngest children in the school take on their role as students, academic skills are introduced in a nurturing, caring environment. Building on the K1 foundation, Second Year Kindergarten (K2) students
In Kindergarten, children work on the academic skills necessary to become successful readers and writers. Park’s teachers build on children’s prior knowledge and abilities as they plan and facilitate authentic and intentional language arts experiences. The Kindergarten language arts program focuses on:
Listening is a primary intellectual skill of early childhood. Kindergarten children are guided to listen thoughtfully to each other in conversation, and to speakers during presentations.
Through conversation with both teachers and peers, children become increasingly proficient and confident in the use of oral language. Children practice speaking skills by sharing stories and information with their classmates during guided and structured activities.
The richness of classroom expressive language and shared literature, including fiction and non-fiction texts, provides an important base for strong pre-reading skills. Classroom libraries are extensive and care is taken to expose children to a diversity of characters and life experiences. Phonological awareness is taught in both small and large group settings through games, songs, poems, and finger plays. Skills in letter recognition,
Early writing takes many forms including scribbling, drawing, reproducing letters and numerals, and using invented spelling. Children in Kindergarten have many opportunities to write.
Story journals and science observations provide structured writing experiences across the curriculum. We discuss elements of a story: characters and setting, as well as the beginning, middle, and end. Children consider writing as a process where stories are first orally told, then written, revised, edited, and published. In science, children practice looking closely and noticing details, making observational drawings, and then recording their observations in writing.
Making signs in the block area, writing notes and cards at the drawing table, making lists and “menus” in the drama department, and creating stories and books with teachers’ guidance during “work time” are all examples of Kindergarten writing.
Librarian Twig George visits K1 and K2 classes weekly. In addition to bringing beautifully written and illustrated fiction to read to the children, she also introduces books and stories that enrich and support our curriculum. In the spring, K2 children begin to visit the library for their weekly session with Twig, where they begin to select and check out books on their own.
Through the Technical Education Research Center (TERC) math curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, children explore mathematical ideas, reasoning, and apply problem-solving skills. This curriculum, which begins in K2, continues through the Lower School years.
Play and mathematics are inseparable, and many important mathematical concepts are learned and practiced in the context of
Playing games involves mastering rule systems, counting, and strategizing, as well as reinforcing basic concepts such as one-to-one correspondence.
Working with puzzles, tangrams, and pattern blocks
Observing, creating, and extending patterns
Categorizing, sorting, and comparing attributes of various materials
Park’s kindergarten students are challenged to become keen observers and thinkers. Through modeling and coaching during small group and class discussions, children learn to ask investigative questions, articulate ideas, formulate hypotheses and consider each other’s thoughts and opinions. They practice recording their observations and discoveries through writing, drawing, and graphing.
Science themes during the Kindergarten years include:
In addition, the children enjoy nature walks, engage in seasonal studies involving our garden,
the nearby woods, stream, meadow and pond, and have the opportunity to explore classroom
The primary goals of the Spanish program are for children to develop communication skills and an understanding of the diversity of cultures within the Spanish-speaking world. K1 classes integrate the goals of the Spanish and music programs, by introducing vocabulary through many culturally relevant songs and movement activities. K2 students meet with the Spanish teacher in small groups and are introduced to targeted vocabulary and features of Hispanic cultures through crafts, games, stories, cooking, and songs. Connections with the classroom curriculum are often established, allowing for additional opportunities to practice vocabulary and discuss culture in a variety of contexts.
Kindergarten students examine the broad themes of connections and change. Throughout the school year, students build upon the connections they make with their teachers and classmates and begin to connect with the broader Park School community.
Many activities, projects, and emphases arise from the current population of Kindergarten parents and children. Teachers guide students based on their interests and teach them to observe, learn, and ask questions about subjects that they find meaningful. These interests often evolve into in-depth learning in the classroom. Project-based learning occurs each spring in Second Year Kindergarten and depends on interests of the class as a whole.