Kindergarten is a critical year for all children—a year of transition from preschool programs or home to formal schooling. Most children arrive in kindergarten filled with curiosity, wonder, and an enthusiasm to learn about themselves, others, and the world. We see our role and responsibility as nourishing this hunger for knowledge, motivating and challenging the children, while protecting and nurturing them.
The process of learning for children at this age is as important as performance and products. When children see themselves as competent learners, they tackle challenges with confidence, and develop attitudes and dispositions that encourage their curiosity and eagerness to learn. And, as research and common sense tells us, these skills and attitudes lay a solid foundation for future academic success.
In addition to inviting children to learn and grow, we want to invite families to partner with our schools. Parents are truly their child’s first and most important teachers and we encourage your involvement in your child’s education and school!
Northampton Public School Kindergarten Curriculum
Northampton’s kindergarten curriculum is integrated across learning domains, always keeping the development of the whole child at its core. Children learn to take risks and solve problems, develop relationships, explore new concepts, acquire academic skills and knowledge, and enhance their physical, social, and emotional competence.
To accomplish these tasks, they need sufficient time to become involved in projects and investigations to satisfy their own interests. Therefore, our kindergarten day offers a balance of child-initiated and teacher-selected activities to enhance learning.
Children benefit from our rich, multi-sensory learning environments that support different learning styles and kinds of intelligence. They are able to acquire symbolic thought as they represent their ideas and knowledge through drawing, painting, block constructions, dramatic play, speaking, and writing.
English Language Arts
Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are the foundations of English Language Arts. Direct instruction through our Readers and Writers Workshop model and authentic teachable moments allow for these skills to be intertwined during the day. Your child will experience ELA development through:
- Morning meeting and the message
- Listening to and Reading books
- Drawing and Writing stories
- Singing songs
- Acting out stories
- Talking together in small groups, during teacher directed activities, during snack time
- Drawing/painting in the art area
- Playing in the block, sensory, dramatic play and other centers
Young children have inquiring minds and are natural scientists. They wonder about how things work and why things change, and want to experiment, touch, and see what happens. Our science curriculum is integrated throughout the learning areas (math, literacy, art, music), building on children’s natural curiosity by supporting their investigation and exploration of the world around them. Our science curriculum includes:
- The study of natural and physical sciences as well as technology/engineering
- Activities that focus on properties of liquids/solids, weather/seasons, plants/animals, and measurement
- Outdoor time and walking field trips provide a natural laboratory for observation and exploration
Children form their first mathematical understandings through concrete experiences with the real world and with common materials. Our Math Investigations curriculum encourages children to explore mathematical concepts and learn to communicate those ideas to others.
- Math is integrated throughout the day – during choice time, morning meeting, snack, cooking, art, music and outdoor activities
- Children work individually and in small and large groups
- Math concepts include number concepts and relationships, patterns, sorting and classifying, geometry and spatial relationships, measurement, graphing, and data collection
- Math includes hands-on use of manipulatives, blocks, games, sand, water, and other classroom materials to develop mathematical concepts that lay the foundation for future achievement in math and science
Young children are naturally creative, and they eagerly explore new methods through which they may express their ideas, feelings and understanding of the world. Children use the arts to create or recreate imagined or real events. To provide opportunities for children to express themselves artistically, the creative arts are woven through the kindergarten curriculum, in the classroom on a daily basis and with MA licensed art and music teachers on a weekly basis. Some of the core activities/beliefs that ground our creative arts curriculum are:
Children develop an awareness of their surroundings, a sense of color and design, an appreciation the role of artists through observation, abstraction, and invention. Children express themselves through various media: paint, clay, drawing, collage.
Music is an integral part of the kindergarten day; children express themselves through songs, chants, creative movement, rhythm instruments, and games. Children listen, imitate, and improvise sounds, patterns and songs.
History and Social Science
At the kindergarten level, learning in history and social science is built on children’s experiences in their families, school, and community. Though the “learning strands” may sound sophisticated, our kindergarten curriculum allows children to gain an understanding of history, geography, civics, and economics as developmentally appropriate concepts in the following ways:
- History: Understanding of past and present by focusing on time and sequence – what has happened and what might happen (routines, seasonal changes, life experiences)
- History/geography: Developing cultural awareness and sensitivity, compassion, recognizing fairness and injustice
- Geography: Understanding of location and direction through exploration and mapping of the classroom, school and community; discussions about near and far places children have visited
- Civics: By creating a classroom community with rules developed by the group, children learn about respect, friendship, personal responsibility, fairness, justice, leadership and other character traits
- Economics: Understanding of the various kinds of work people do (outside and inside the home)
Young children are active learners and our Physical Education (PE) curriculum capitalizes on this by helping them gain skills that will foster their physical, social and cognitive development. To provide opportunities for children to develop their physical skills, we offer PE classes with a MA licensed PE teacher twice a week. PE classes, recess, and daily classroom activities build and strengthen the link between motor development and learning through:
Climbing, running, jumping, hopping, dancing and other gross motor activities that promote physical development
Tumbling, balancing, swinging, spinning that promote sense of directionality and spatial awareness (left/right, up/down, in/out)
Cooperative and team games that teach social skills such as turn-taking, following rules, listening, and waiting
Throwing/catching balls, beanbags, etc. to promote eye-hand coordination
Young children are forming a sense of themselves as learners and doers. They are growing and developing at their own rate, each with their own strengths and interests. Some may be adept at relationships with children, some may be very interested in learning to read, others may be great explorers of the natural world, while still others may have highly developed physical skills but all are curious, and eager to learn!
At the kindergarten level, children are developing sensory integration which enhances their abilities to stay focused. Routine physical, spatial and manipulative activities stimulate this sensory development. Through physical activity and movement, a sense of directionality (left/right, up down, in, out) and position in space (over, under, behind) is developed. These concepts support children’s understanding of pattern and relationship (vital to mathematical thinking) and to reading and writing skills (seeing how letters are formed and fit together in patterns to create words).
Children’s perceptions of their own skills, abilities, and sometimes their “worth,” are based on relationships and experiences with others. Learning to engage in successful interactions with family, friends, schools, and community builds their sense of self-competence. We support this development by encouraging children to:
- Take turns and share
- Negotiate and cooperate
- Ask for help when appropriate
- Tolerate frustration
- Develop self-esteem
- Appreciate other people
- Feel connected
- Develop a sense of humor
- Use imagination
- Know right from wrong
- Learn from mistakes
- Show feelings appropriately
Tips for Parents
- Share your child’s excitement about school – talk positively about school and teachers
- Talk with your child daily about arrangements for going to and from school, and familiarize him/her with the route to school
- Teach your child his/her full name, address, telephone number and birthday
- Provide your child with opportunities to play with other children – indoors and out
- Encourage your child to dress and undress themselves, tie shoes, and zip, button, and snap outer clothing
- Teach your child to take care of him/her own toilet needs without assistance
- Send your child to school with a backpack, lunch, snack and other belongings
- Don’t forget to check the backpack daily for your child’s work and notices from school
- Label your child’s belongings, e.g. lunch box, coat, backpack, etc.
Throughout the Year
- Set regular bedtime routines for your child – make sure s/he gets enough sleep
- Allow enough time in the morning for routines and breakfast to give your child a calm start to the day
- Ask your child what happened at school today (everyday)
- Praise your child for his/her efforts
- Read to your child daily and visit the public library
- Allow your child to make choices and assume responsibility around the house
- Make time for outdoor and active play daily
- Limit television and other screen-time; be aware of TV choices and make sure they are appropriate
- Dress your child appropriately for the weather and for an active day, which may include painting or other messy activities
- Keep your child’s teacher updated on any changes that may affect your child (moving, separation, trips, serious illness of any family member, death of a pet, etc)
- Remember that children’s abilities vary. Your child is an individual with his/her own rate of growth, interests, strengths and talents – celebrate those strengths!
- Relax, enjoy and have fun with your child during these early years. They pass all too quickly!