Kindergarten Curriculum

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In the Kindergarten at the Novato Charter School, we offer two Kindergarten classes of mixed age children. The children who have not turned 5 by June 1st[1] of the year they start Kindergarten come back for a second year before moving on to first grade. The children in our transitional Kindergarten (KA) have the older children to imitate and look up to and, as illustrated below, the program is differentiated to meet the range of developmental needs between the older and younger children.

Since the young child’s response to the environment is imitation with absolute trust, the teacher’s goal is to become a worthy role model in gesture, mood and speech. The teacher strives to create an environment, both inside and out, that is beautiful, orderly and calm, yet also stimulating. Natural materials and open-ended toys are selected to nourish the senses and support the children in developing their imagination, creativity, focus, flexibility, and their motivation to achieve.

The curriculum is play-based and nature-oriented in keeping with the awakening capacities of the young child below the age of seven.  Our curriculum includes indoor and outdoor free-play periods in which the children imaginatively and creatively self-direct their play. The play times are interspersed with circle time (language arts, movement, and music), artistic activities (which vary daily and include painting, drawing, and beeswax modeling), snack time and story time.

Circle Time

Transitional Kindergarten or KA: The children develop gross and fine motor skills during circle time where the story, or seasonal theme, will be worked into an imaginative, movement based story, poem or song time. Here the children move together, listening, keeping sequences, learning body geography, integrating reflexes and developing spatial awareness.

Second Year or KB[2]: The older children are called up first to demonstrate and show the others how to do the movements. These children will lead and help others who are new to the activity. They relish being able to show how a movement is done.  They love being able to jump rope a hundred times, or to be a leader in circle time.

Practical Work

The children are involved in many aspects of the practical work involved in the smooth running of the program. They set the table for snack, arrange the chairs in a circle on the rug for story time and move them back safely to the table for snack. They participate in food preparation and all take turns with the work of table cleaning, sweeping and dish washing. Outside, they help tend the garden and rake leaves

Transitional Kindergarten (KA): When it is time to set up and clean, a child’s observational powers and visual memory are developed. Organizational skills, sorting, staying on task and socially accomplishing a goal with others are all achieved. The younger child enters into a proximal zone of learning where imitating the teacher and older children becomes an ordering influence. They are developing habits of responsible citizenship and a genuine feeling of self worth.

KB: The older child is given more individualized and challenging tasks. They are able to follow multiple step directions and see a complex job through from start to finish without an adult overseeing their work. They model willingness and flexibility and help others.

Snack Time

Transitional Kindergarten (KA):  Baking and cooking activities, like kneading dough, and stirring the cake batter etc., serve to integrate reflexes in the younger child. The children are asked to sit and wait with quiet, good manners while everyone is served. This is essential for impulse control, social skills, self-care skills, fine motor control. They learn community building skills and care for others.

KB: The older children will serve as role models for the younger children and are expected to demonstrate a greater level of self control.

Story time

Story-time is filled with vocabulary- rich nursery rhymes, nature tales, folktales or multicultural fairy tales.  The same story is used and portrayed in different forms through puppetry, class plays, and drawing which address different learning styles and enrich all modalities.

Transitional Kindergarten (KA): These children learn to listen, remember and understand language in the rich context of story. These skills are fundamental to reading comprehension. Self-expression is enhanced through a rich contextual understanding of new vocabulary.

KB: The older children will assist in story time by confidently playing the characters in the story or puppet show. The story will be acted out with feeling and the words will become even more alive in an appropriate emotional context. These scenarios will often become the basis for creative play in the Kindergarten day. The stories build continued language arts skills, especially a strong vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Mathematics

Transitional Kindergarten (KA): The daily routine introduces math skills in manifold ways, including counting and sorting, measuring, one to one correspondences in table setting etc., ordering from smallest to larger, finger plays, counting the children in the class and  the ladybugs on the fava bean plant, using number verses, sequential repetitive songs, jump rope verses, clapping games etc. the younger children are eager to participate in all of these activities as they model the involvement and leadership of the older children.

KB: By the second year all of the above mentioned activities become more complex.

Free-Play

Transitional Kindergarten (KA): Free-play develops imagination, creativity, large and fine motor development, problem solving, social skills and verbal skills. In the transitional Kindergarten the younger children participate in all of these activities as their stage of maturity allows. Some teacher guidance may be necessary in the early stages of “figuring out” how to play, share, and take turns and other socializing skills. Cooperation becomes an honored skill. Free-play is a self-directed activity. During both indoor and outdoor free play times, adult led small group activities are available including jump rope, gardening and a wide variety of crafts.

KB: By the second year of Kindergarten all of the above capacities are strengthened in addition to the development of leadership, confidence, storytelling and puppetry. The older children tend to initiate story telling play scenarios and puppet shows while the younger children learn by assisting. The child’s nature changes from dreamy to focused over the span of two years. The child’s experience of the two years is remarkably different and yet there is an underlying familiarity which brings them security, confidence and enthusiasm.

Science and Gardening (See the slideshows: Kindergarten Seeds and Ladybugs above)

Transitional Kindergarten (KA): This is a foundational piece to science and an ecological education. The children develop a connection to the earth and the seasons as they observe all of the changes in the garden from what insects come and go, to the changes in the plants. The children can observe the ecosystems, and best of all the get to eat what they have planted.  They learn to have reverence for the earth and the plants while tending them and noting the life cycle. This is a foundation to an ecological education.

KB: The second year child can lead activities. They must help to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and guide the younger children in caring for the plants. They learn to know which plants are ready to harvest, and how to help prepare the food. The older children introduce the younger ones to wild edible plants and trees.

Crafts and Handwork

Transitional Kindergarten (KA):  This curriculum assists the younger child in the development of fine motor movements, sequencing activities, and spatial awareness. This includes: finger crocheting, braiding, and sewing, making three dimensional objects out of bees wax and knitted chains.  Confidence is increased as they master these skills.

KB:  The older children are given craft activities commensurate with their fine motor skills.  Their projects are more advanced and demanding.  We expect a greater level of care in their work and a higher quality finished product from these children. All children can participate in simple woodworking, beading, candle dipping, weaving and other crafts.

In the transitional Kindergarten year, children are introduced to the rhythms and routines of Kindergarten. With time, they learn to move through the transitions of the day with ease. They are introduced to a thoughtfully planned, rich array of activities. These, along with ample time for play, facilitate the development of age-appropriate physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills. They are inspired, not only by their teachers, but by the older children to participate fully in the program and experience many new things.

During the second, traditional Kindergarten year, the rhythms of Kindergarten already live deeply in the children. They are free to refine the skills they began to develop in the first year. They are inspired by their new role as leaders to reach a higher level of mastery in all they do and demonstrate a greater degree of self-control. By the end of this year, the children are well prepared to make the transition to first grade.



[1] Must turn 5 between June 2nd and December 2nd to qualify for Transitional Kindergarten

[2] Must be 5 years old by June 1st of the year the child plans to attend Kindergarten in order to qualify for KB

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