Kindergarten Curriculum Overview
Building on kindergartners’ appreciation for reading and listening to stories, children practice comprehension strategies such as retelling a story, asking questions, and making connections to their own lives and to other books they know. They learn about literary genres such as non-fiction, folktales, biography, and poetry. Studying the work of authors, such as Eric Carle and Brian and Andrea Pinkney, helps students begin to notice writing style and content variations. Language skills are taught in context and include concepts about print, letter recognition, and phonemic awareness.
The Spirit Class aims to foster a love for writing and an understanding of its purpose within genre studies. Through mini lessons and individual conferences, children learn the mechanics of letter and sounds, sight words, and punctuation. Children also learn how to give and receive feedback for growth as well as implement the idea of "each one teach one,” children as teacher leaders.
Learning math in kindergarten involves creation of a classroom culture that nurtures, fosters growth, and encourages healthy risk taking endeavors. In the beginning of the year, the students tend to put math into boxes. They know that math involves numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. Together, teachers and students spend days exploring, revealing and peeling away the layers of math often discovering that math is so much more and exists all around us.
The Kindergarten Math Program introduces children to a variety of mathematical strands through daily number corner routines, center time (workplaces), inquiry studies, strategy sharing, read alouds, math conversations, and more. Math circles may start with simple conversations in which students share their observations as they constantly use the world around them to make sense of mathematical concepts. Teachers facilitate the usage of math vocabulary in these discussions by modeling, writing, posting and encouraging its use. The children’s questions and shared wisdom help to deepen the class’ investigations.
Teachers observe and assess each child in order to create goals for each child that are simultaneously supportive and challenging. Each student’s progress is noted through observations, informal/formal assessments, and their personal portfolio. At times, students may work in smaller homogeneous groups to hone in on particular skills which need strengthening. At other times, heterogeneous groups give students the opportunity to work with and learn from one another. Throughout the year, Spirit students cover the following topics: number sense, measurement and data, algebra, probability, and geometry.
Social studies is a discovery in concentric circles in the Spirit class, beginning with the child and their many layers of identity. Spirit students explore feelings, ancestry, holidays, languages spoken at home, and more. From there, the class explores different family constellations focusing on single parent, LGBTQ, multiple home families, children raised by elders, as well as other configurations. The children expand their notion of home by focusing on aspects of their their school and neighborhood. Finally, in a unit on manners and friendship, stories, playtime, and small group or whole class meetings help to develop an understanding of social connection and peaceful conflict resolution and to build the skills of empathy and understanding.
In the Spirit class, we explore chemistry, physics, botany, anatomy and nutrition in addition to environmental science. We use read alouds, outdoor classroom experiences and field trips, and hands on activities. Children draw or write in science notebooks about their questions and findings. They build their critical thinking skills by asking questions, defining problems, and thoughtfully disagreeing. Spirit scientists learn to communicate information. They plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, and construct explanations. Spirits practice perseverance in the process of trial and try again!
In the Spirit class, we explore our roots through a variety of curricular connections. We examine ancestral lands, family constellations, gender stereotypes, and spoken and written home languages. We seek to have children build and express understanding of who they are. This may be explained through the idea of intersectionality, such as "I am a Japanese-Peruvian girl living with my auntie.” They are also building bridges of appreciation for others. Some themes include name stories, family, heroes and sheroes, accessibility, and the science of hair and skin. We also explore the metaphorical thinking of windows and mirrors to explain differences and similarities. Our aim is to build self and community pride and connection.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
In the Spirit class, we recognize that social emotional learning is greatly linked to academic growth and personal well being. Beginning with an exploration of our classroom values and guidelines, the children begin to explore the language and "give and take" of friendships . Using the Toolbox curriculum, role playing, selective read alouds, class meetings, and facilitated small group check ins, the children learn the importance of empathy, perseverance, self pride, generosity, self regulation, and more. We learn to identify and express our feelings, the transformative power of anger, the importance of exercising our "disappointment muscle," and the joy of human connection. We also discuss ways in which to give back to our local or global community through various projects.