Green Acres School's Pre-Kindergarten is a place where children play, explore, and learn in an environment that values and promotes growth in all domains of a child’s development: social emotional, academic, physical, and artistic. Within a nurturing setting, teachers acknowledge students’ steps toward independence and encourage their enthusiasm, enjoy their sense of humor, and help them develop an awareness of and sensitivity to each other’s needs and feelings. Choices within structure allow children to become self-reliant and resilient.
A blend of activities captures the students’ interests, as instruction and materials are differentiated to best meet the needs of the group and the individual. Teachers balance emergent curriculum (following the ideas of the students) with topics of interest universal to children of this age. Thematic units of study integrated throughout all curricular areas are carefully planned to provide hands-on, explorative, thought-provoking experiences for students to construct and extend their own knowledge.
Integrated into each theme are activities and materials related to the areas of literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, and the arts. For example, during a fall unit on sense of self, children examine similarities and difference as they look in a mirror in preparation for drawing a self-portrait (art). Meaningful discussions spontaneously arise and are skillfully encouraged, guided, and extended by teachers (social studies). Dictated thoughts or child written words (“invented spelling”) enhance the activity (language and literacy). A graph depicting the answer to the question posed to the class, “How many are in your family?” is made complete by each student’s placement of his or her picture in the appropriate category. Individual and whole group conversations, thoughts, and assimilation of the data yield important information about family composition, as well as mathematical concepts such as most, least, and equal to.
Depth and breadth are critical to the intentional scope and sequence of thematic units. Children are provided the time, materials, and motivation for in-depth study; teachers pose questions with the purpose of extending learning and deepening understanding of concepts. Encouraged to wonder, probe, and query, students and teachers discover and grow; they are partners in learning.
Each day brings opportunities for student growth in literacy and mathematics: exposure to a variety of literary genres, oral and written language, listening skills, Handwriting Without Tears activities, sharing student ideas through dictation or invented spelling, sequencing, patterns, sorting, classifying, counting, and number skills are some examples. Special subjects are an integral part of the Pre-K schedule and include physical education, science, creative movement, library, art, and Spanish. Students travel with a teacher to different areas of the campus to experience some of these activities.
The classroom opens to the outdoors, where children continue their learning. Motor skills become more adept as students are provided with an extensive amount of time to explore the wooded playground filled with climbing equipment and dramatic pretend play areas. An expansive, open grassy field and tricycles on paved pathways are also available for regular use. Additionally, social skills are continually honed while students navigate the social arena during outside times.
Full and half day Pre-Kindergarten programs are available. The new half day program runs from 8:20 AM–12:30 PM, five days a week. Click here for more information on tuition and fees.
In Kindergarten, teachers focus on the multiple aspects of student learning and growth. Yearly traditions and class routines provide opportunities for students to learn and grow cognitively and creatively. Each tradition and class routine addresses children’s growing independence and sense of responsibility, and teachers help each student refine their concentration and their ability to follow through on responsibilities.
Hands-on experiences are the heart of all learning. Green Acres’ Kindergartners enjoy regular opportunities for exploring and experimenting with a vast array of challenging materials, both indoors and outside.
Emerging readers and writers
In Kindergarten, students are put on a path to becoming lifelong open-minded, active, and strategic learners who love reading and writing. Teachers immerse students in rich literature and language throughout the day. In morning meeting, students read along with the schedule and post answers to questions on the sign-in and morning message. During Literacy times, students work in small groups on journals, handwriting, reading skills, and stories. During Large Group, the whole Kindergarten joins together to share songs, stories, and discussions based on the curricular theme. Finally, Homecorner closes the day with the teacher reading a book while students share a snack.
All children in Kindergarten at Green Acres regularly engage in the following literacy-building activities:
- Journal writing (invented spelling/independent work)
- Story writing (either independently or dictating to teacher)
- Author's Chair
- Director's Chair
Read-alouds with reading comprehension discussion (components of discussion include recall, sequencing, making connections between text and child's experience, and answering questions about character, plot, setting, theme, and moral or meaning).
Shared reading themes mirror thematic units, including: friendship, trees, families, food/nutrition, diversity, peace, birds, reptiles, poetry, and folk tales. The children enjoy listening to the stories, predicting possible outcomes, discussing the various characters' choices and consequences, and finally, acting the stories out in small groups.
Math happens everywhere
In Kindergarten, math is everywhere. Learning happens all day through planned lessons, as well as organically through student interactions. Mathematical development is worked on daily in the classroom by providing an environment that encourages explorations, questions, and observations as the children work to build mathematical reasoning. Throughout the day, children are engaged in mathematical problem solving, using a variety of manipulatives, as well as targeted math materials.
Some ways that teachers incorporate math include:
- Small group times focused solely on math
- Nametag groupings with a mathematical theme
- Morning meetings that incorporate: tracking the number of days children have been in school, exploring the calendar, skip counting patterns, multiples, odd and even numbers, and other math concepts
- Mental math problems during afternoon snack
- Challenging children with math-related questions on the morning “check-in” board
The “Kindergarten Store,” a planned, intentional learning experience, is an annual Green Acres tradition. The Store, operated by the Kindergarteners, presents the children with a meaningful way to reinforce such skills as: counting, adding, subtracting, estimating, predicting, strategizing, problem solving, and reflection. This activity is just one example of how children learn math concepts in an exciting, experiential, and meaningful way. Green Acres Kindergarteners know math is fun!