Filling their pockets with skills and confidence. “Five-year-olds are a delight to be around and wonderful to teach. Our kindergarten environment makes them feel valued, respected and safe to share thoughts and ideas, to explore, create and take risks.”
—Caroline Alexanderson, Wesley Prep Kindergarten Teacher
How We Think About Our Kindergartners
Five-year-olds are enthusiastic about school and are ready to learn. They are willing to attempt almost anything, have a can-do attitude, and are accepting of one another. Wesley Prep offers opportunities for them to soak it up on a variety of levels.
Each kindergartner comes to us with a unique personality, learning style, and special gifts to contribute to the class. The role of our teachers is to find ways for each child to be successful, to be challenged but not overwhelmed, and to grow socially, emotionally and intellectually. Our goal is to ensure that each child develops a comfortable sense of belonging and feels confident that he or she is an important, contributing member of the group. When our kindergartners graduate, they are imbued with a sense that learning is fun and important and that school is a good place to be.
How We Emphasize and Reinforce Skills in Kindergarten
We use experiential learning, small group instruction for introduction of new concepts, and whole group practice for review and extension activities. The repetition and reinforcement of concepts is essential at this age. For an hour a day, we use center-oriented learning with our core centers being social studies, language, fine motor, library, computer, art, listening, writing, blocks, math, science, and manipulatives. Our lessons include all five senses as often as possible; for example, when studying the fall season, we’ll write, sing, eat, smell, and feel as many “fall” things as possible.
How We Use Project-Based Learning in Kindergarten
Project-based learning is used as often as possible with our kindergartners. We collectively read, write, draw, and cook about a subject (i.e., dinosaurs) and present our findings to the other kindergarten class via class-made big books or plays. Our children love being tasked with a project that they can see come to life and learn so much more about the given subject because they are allowed to immerse themselves in the topic and see it from many different sides.
How We Differentiate Instruction in Kindergarten
We use private conferences in kindergarten, where our teachers observe students working independently (reading, writing, solving math problems). Our teachers then select a specific skill based on the student’s ability and say to them, “Starting today, I want you to be sure to use spaces between words when writing.” The teacher writes an anecdotal record in her folder and refers to it during the next conference period, reminding the child as they are working, “Remember to use those spaces.”
Beginning in late Fall, children’s reading skills are assessed every month to decide what books they should be taking home each week. The difficulty level of the homework corresponds with the student’s proficiency while challenging them in a comfortable way.
How We Prepare Kindergartners for the Next Stage of Their Education
We are constantly preparing our students for the next level in the school as their level of responsibility steadily increases, encouraging autonomy and confidence. Our teachers offer previews of activities the students will experience in the following year…”Next year, you’ll get to go to the lunch room.” This creates excitement and anticipation for what’s ahead and allows students to see how their current exercises fit into the bigger picture.
How Kindergarten Fits Within the Continuum of Education at Wesley Prep
As the bridge between preschool and first grade, kindergarten is an important year. We fill their pockets with skills and confidence and instill the idea that they should not be afraid to “be wrong.” We all learn from mistakes, so all answers and attempts are encouraged.