Learning Concepts and Goals for Kindergarten
At Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School, the focus of our philosophy is anchored in emergent learning — we value being responsive to children’s interests, thus creating meaningful learning experiences. This way of teaching and planning of curriculum is developed in a collaborative, child-centered, and developmentally appropriate way. Learning habits and academic milestones are embedded and fostered. We believe that academic growth rests upon a positive foundation of social and emotional development. Classroom community is developed and strengthened through meetings and discussions — through such discourse, learners authentically witness, firsthand, the value of multiple perspectives. We believe this not only enhances children’s understanding of themselves as learners but also fosters their being flexible, empathetic, and active members of a learning community. The goals of our academic program are to offer learners opportunities to: solve problems, access information, think creatively, and present information to others.
Literacy: Reading, Writing and Word Study
The kindergarten literacy curriculum builds upon the learners’ prior knowledge gained in pre-school, continuing with the immersion in a language-rich environment, while focusing on the building of alphabetic knowledge and phonemic awareness skills. Literacy experiences are play-based, interactive and hands-on. Read alouds, shared reading and perusing books in the classroom library are core pieces to the kindergarten literacy program. The writing process encourages the expression of language. Children share their stories, thoughts, and wonderings, enabling them to develop their own “voice” as they grow as readers and writers. Learners continue to gain comfort with writing tools and letter formation. Kindergartners enjoy sharing their writing and thoughts about stories with their peers — they experience first-hand the need for and joy of sharing stories and working collaboratively with others to generate writing projects.
Counting is a central focus in the kindergarten curriculum. As learners develop accurate counting strategies, they also build an understanding of how numbers in the counting sequence are related. They develop an understanding of one less, one more, greater than, less than and equal to. They develop language for describing quantitative comparisons as they count and compare quantities. Learners’ work in composing and decomposing numbers culminates in an understanding of place value. The counting experiences build a bridge to the operations of addition and subtraction. Additionally, learners’ work with measurement, geometry, and sorting data begins with real-world experiences. Our curriculum urges them to think mathematically by creating an environment where “students are doing, thinking, and talking about significant mathematics.”
Kindergartners engage in deep studies around the social studies arc “Who Am I?” As learners study themselves, their family, and their school, they experience many social skills, including problem solving and collaboration. They are guided by the essential questions: “Who am I? Who am I within my family? Who am I within my school?” Learners are thinking deeply about their identities and the identities of others to grow a better understanding of their place in the world. Through this process, they connect to and empathize with people in their school community. They use knowledge and perspective as they uncover a need their class or school may have, and then take constructive and collaborative steps to work toward solutions. They feel empowered that their voice makes a difference. Through experiences, materials, and interviews, learners will enhance their understanding of who they are.
As learners create theories of understanding during deep studies around the essential question “Who Am I?”, they gain an awareness and curiosity of their immediate school environment including: forces and interactions (pushes and pulls); interdependent relationships in ecosystems (plants, humans, and animals); weather and climate; and the study of engineering and design. During the studies and playful inquiry opportunities, learners are given the time and space to ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, and analyze and interpret data based on their observations and questions.
The mission of our Spanish program is to instill a love of language from an early age. Our program is designed to teach learners vocabulary, grammar, and basic language skills. Learners communicate and appreciate the various cultures of the Spanish-speaking world with a focus on ideas, projects, and beginning conversations around these ideas that stem from emergent learning. In learning Hebrew, kindergartners are introduced to the aleph-bet and practice forming and differentiating letters. They also learn Hebrew words, especially pertaining to the Jewish holidays.
Learners explore all of the Jewish holidays, including traditional customs and symbols throughout the year. In addition, learners explore Jewish values that focus on themselves as individuals, their relationships with friends and family, and community and the world at large. Judaic studies are woven throughout the deep studies.
Kindergartners will learn the importance of warming up before exercising and cooling down by stretching afterwards. In Starfit, kindergartners will learn a group of exercises that allow them to prepare their bodies gradually for more vigorous physical activity. Learners practice basic movements and drills to improve speed and agility. In dance, learners practice skills such as hand coordination, body control, moving to rhythm, and more. In yoga, learners begin to trust their bodies and build emotional and physical strength. Learners practice breathing and poses. At the JCC, kindergartners learn the rules and skills needed to play various organized sports with a coach.
Kindergarten learners explore their environment and music world through various experiences. Singing, listening, playing instruments (pitched and unpitched), and movement experiences form the foundation for musical development.