A curriculum to build a solid foundation along with hands-on projects that really get kids plugged in. Our first graders participate in small groups and are offered a mix of science, music, art, computer, and Spanish classes – with, of course, time to simply enjoy being a kid on the playground.
How We Think About First Graders
First graders are given every opportunity to participate in all areas of learning in our school. They are involved in science lab, music productions, art class, computer labs, and Spanish classes. All of the special classes are taught with their thinking and listening skills in mind. In addition to regular physical education classes, first graders enjoy time on the playground each day, because free play is essential in a structured movement. The curriculum has been designed to fit their needs and interests. Movement has been incorporated into the classroom regularly to keep attention engaged.
How We Emphasize and Reinforce Skills in First Grade
Skills are presented in the traditional teacher-directed format, which includes one-on-one instruction tailored to each child’s particular needs, but we use many other resources. For example, the ActivBoard is an exciting visual tool to enhance each area of learning and computer activities allow our first graders to practice in each subject. Students are also given the opportunity to learn through games, group work, and self-directed activities.
How We Use Project-Based Learning in First Grade
Participatory projects enhance all areas of learning, and we offer many firsthand opportunities for our first graders, such as:
- Plays and Readers Theater, which give meaning to beginning reading
- Live-theater field trips
- Working in small groups to build and design cities and neighborhoods, which enlightens them about people and communities
- Children set up a “shapes museum” by bringing 3-D objects from home to correspond to various shapes being studied
- Computer-lab projects
How We Differentiate Instruction in First Grade
First Grade uses the MacMillin-McGraw/Hill reading curriculum. This series offers multilevel presentation of skills and practice activities for students each week. This enables the teacher to meet the needs and levels of all learners. Students also are involved in the Accelerated Reader program, which offers reading and testing on the child’s predetermined reading level. Children are free to continue through this program independently at their own pace.
Everyday Mathematics provides opportunities for whole group instruction and individualized support when needed. Children regularly are involved with games to reinforce math skills.
How First Grade Fits Within the Continuum of Education at Wesley Prep
First grade is a transitional grade between preschool and elementary. We gradually build on the standards set in kindergarten, while anticipating the alignment that must come when entering elementary. Students are given free choice Centers at certain periods of the day and lots of movement within the classroom, both at transition times and during breaks. It is important to incorporate play as a learning tool in first grade. Working with the curriculum, this can be done with games, group work, and songs. Learning experiences for first graders should build attention span and desire for learning that will keep enthusiasm high for the next grade. This is the time to determine a child’s developmental needs and talents and to devise a plan for continued progress in these areas. Our teachers at Wesley Prep continually refine and address the ways each child learns best. Special attention is given to this idea in first grade, so students can continue to learn with high self-esteem.
How We Develop Character and Social Skills in First Grade
Our first graders have jobs and responsibilities in the classroom that change daily. Simple tasks, such as going to the office with a message, watering plants, and helping out in the classroom, foster independence and knowledge of different areas of the school. Social grouping is practiced frequently so children will learn to work and play with different personalities. We talk about practicing kindness, fairness, and honesty with others. Realizing that children will copy what they see, our teachers model these traits for all students. It is the quality of the relationship between the teacher and child that often has a long-term impact on the child’s character and social skills. We take that to heart.
How We Prepare First Graders for the Next Stage of Their Education
The Wesley Prep curriculum builds skills in a logical progression within each grade and from grade to grade. We have adopted a nationally approved curriculum for each subject that gives us the confidence that we are teaching the necessary skills to proceed to the next level. We also have assessment programs to give documentation that students have mastered the required skills. Any student that has not achieved mastery is given the opportunity for individualized help.