The Kindergarten curriculum at Learning Circle Preschool grows out of the same goals and philosophy as the preschool curriculum. As in preschool, the Kindergarten curriculum with its enriching classroom environment, stimulating materials, the guidance and motivating strategies offered by experienced teachers, offers students the foundations for their optimum development. Underlying every aspect of the curriculum is the teacher’s appreciation and understanding of the way Kindergartners learn. That understanding forms the basis of a framework of expectations that are both reasonable and achievable.
Teachers observe each child and collect information about their strengths and weaknesses, so that each child’s individual interests and learning style are factored into the curriculum as it’s developed. Teachers also consider the skills, concepts, and knowledge children must become familiar with at the Kindergarten level in order to meet or exceed state standards and goals, and in order to make a smooth transition to First Grade.
As in preschool, Kindergartners continue to learn best through playful and active interactions with their environment, engaging in activities that are deeply meaningful to them. It is the teacher’s role to facilitate, plan, watch, listen, model, question, extend, observe, and help children make connections to both materials and the other children with whom experiences are shared. The Learning Circle Preschool curriculum provides children with the extended periods of time they need to play, to plan, to reflect on past experiences – time to practice and connect new experiences and knowledge to that which is familiar and known.
Each child follows a unique timetable as his or her development unfolds. At Learning Circle Preschool, we utilize a highly individualized approach. Teachers use the concept of “scaffolding learning” in their classroom approach. As children move towards mastery of a concept or skill, teachers gradually decrease the level of support offered, until children work independently. (“I do it and you watch; I do it and you help; you do it and I help; you do it and I watch”) We strive to offer each child the support, stimulation, and appropriate challenges necessary for a strong foundation for confident, life long learning.
We base specific curriculum choices on careful observations of children in the classroom environment, and on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. The school uses Teaching Strategies Gold and the Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum for recording observations, planning, assessment, and communication with parents about development. In addition, our curriculum development is informed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) current standards reflecting best practices for the education of young children.
No short document can include all aspects of the curriculum. In Kindergarten as in preschool, curriculum is everything that happens – each interaction, conversation, and question posed offers engaging possibilities for learning. Since children learn in a holistic and integrated manner in early childhood, teachers plan experiences for children that offer opportunities across many domains (rather than as isolated subjects). The following areas of concentration have been outlined in this summary:
- Forming and sustaining relationships
- Regulating the expression of emotions and inhibiting negative behavior
- Cooperating with others and with school and societal rules.
Some Specific Language Goals (a sample from Massachusetts Frameworks)
- Follow rules the group agrees upon for discussion (listening, taking turns, one person speaks at a time, etc.)
- Contribute personal knowledge to a group discussion
- Talk to a group about personal experiences, feelings, or interests
- Ask and answer questions
- Describe and classify common words and objects
- Identify sounds in the environment, and make sounds (music, for example)
Some Specific Beginning Reading Goals (a sample from the Massachusetts Frameworks)
- Understand how to handle a book and how books are organized
- Understand that print moves from left to right in English
- Understand that words are made of syllables
- Understand the relationships between letters and sounds
- Develop phonemic awareness
- Use knowledge of the relationship between sounds and letters to decode simple words
Some Specific Goals for Interpreting Literature (a sample from the Massachusetts Frameworks)
- Retell important details from a story
- Ask questions about a story
- Make predictions from a text by using pictures, words, or personal knowledge
- Find similarities between works of a given author or illustrator
- Understand that there are different literary forms (nonfiction, fiction, poetry, drama, for example)
- Make connections from themes in literature to personal experience
- Respond to the regular beat and the similarity of sounds or rhymes in poetry
- Participate in rehearsals and performances of stories, plays, and poems
Some Specific Goals for Writing (a sample from the Massachusetts Frameworks)
- Use opportunities to draw, write, and paint
- Incorporate print in drawings with labels and simple stories
- Dictate stories, words, or questions to an adult who can model writing
- Read one’s own writing and the writing of peers
- Arrange events in a sequence when telling or writing a story
- Write upper and lower case letters
Specific Goals in Mathematics (a sample from the Massachusetts Frameworks)
- Count by ones to at least 20
- Match quantities up to at least 10 with numerals and words
- Identify positions of objects in sequence up to fifth
- Compare sets of concrete objects and describe appropriately
- Understand the concepts of whole and half
- Identify U.S. coins
- Estimate the number of objects, then verify the results
- Identify the attributes of objects
- Sort and classify objects, identifying their attributes
- Identify, describe, and create patterns with simple attributes
- Count by fives and tens up to 50
- Name, sort, and draw simple 2 dimensional shapes
- Describe the attributes of 2 dimensional shapes
- Name and compare 3 dimensional shapes
- Identify positions of objects in space and describe and compare them
- Compare attributes of length, volume, and time, using appropriate language
- Use estimates of measurements
- Use nonstandard systems to measure length, areas, weight, and capacity
- Collect, sort, organize, and draw conclusions using concrete objects, picture, numbers, and graphs
- Use objects as models to help solve simple addition and subtraction problems
- Asking questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment
- Tell about why and what would happen if?
- Make predictions based on observations
- Name and use simple equipment to gather data
- Record observations using pictures, numbers, or writing
- Discuss observations with others
Technology is defined broadly and involves thinking about how things are made and how they work, and includes thinking about the systems we use to solve practical problems. As children play, they problem solve together, and use a variety of classroom tools that may include high technology like computers or digital cameras, or may involve gaining an understanding of simple tools like gears, levers or wheels.
Classroom activities might include:
- Moving water through pumps and pipes
- Creating ramp systems
- Thinking about how things move – using wheels, air, or other means
- Thinking about how heat and water are delivered to our homes
- Creating buildings, road works, and houses with blocks
- Thinking about roads, bridges, ramps, and tunnels in block or sand play
- Creating constructions and road or river systems in sand
- Create and construct in three dimensions with mixed media in collage
- Investigate simple machines such as ramps, gears, wheels, pulleys, and levers through play experiences.
- Use a variety of simple cooking tools
- Thinking about what tools work best for specific purposes (for example, tape vs. glue or paper vs. wood)
- Using digital photography to document our classroom experiences
- Using computers for research, to hear a book or music, or to create a story
When teachers introduce high technology like computers, their use is related to hands on activities and integrated into classroom experiences. Screen time is limited.