Welcome to Kindergarten

This document is intended to outline the academic goals for the Kindergarten, identify some of the primary resources that are used to instruct your child, the duration and frequency of instruction, and the outcomes that are targeted to be developed by the end of the year.

We recognize that students learn at different paces and occasionally in developmental “spurts”. With this in mind we focus on each child’s individual progress. This progress is monitored through periodic skills assessments, teacher observations and classroom assessments (an inventory of these assessments is available if you are interested). Instruction is regularly augmented by the classroom teacher, differentiation teachers and, if necessary Special Education teachers, for students that would benefit from additional instruction.

We hope that this document adequately introduces you to what you can expect over the next 10 months, but does not replace the opportunity to discuss with you directly the specific questions you might have in greater detail and specificity.

Kindergarten uses the Everyday Math program, which places emphasis on frequent practice of basic skills through ongoing routines, such as attendance graphing and calendar, and through mathematical games. We revisit topics regularly to make sure concepts keep developing and to enforce long-term skill retention. Our goals for Kindergarten are based upon national performance standards or “Focal Points” as defined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Our goal is that students exit kindergarten with very basic understanding of
  • Numbers and Numeration: We count daily; estimate, represent, and compare numbers; and read and write numbers.
  • Operations and Computation: We explore the meaning of addition and subtraction. We develop and use concrete strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems.
  • Data and Chance: We collect and organize data, such as our birthday months, and learn about bar graphs, tables, and tallying. We also explore basic probability concepts.
  • Measurement and Reference Frame: We use nonstandard tools to estimate and compare weight and length. We learn to identify pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and the dollar bill. We explore temperature and thermometers. We use calendars and other tools to track or measure time.
  • Geometry: We explore two- and three-dimensional shapes and line symmetry.
  • Patterns, Functions, and Algebra: We explore visual, rhythmic, and movement patterns. We use rules to sort by attributes such as color or shape, to make patterns, and to play games. We learn about the +, - and = symbols.
  • Problem solving: By drawing pictures, using manipulatives, finding a pattern.

The four components of Language Arts—reading, spelling, grammar, and writing—are instructed, practiced, and developed through daily activities in Kindergarten. Instruction is delivered explicitly and through the integration of language skills in other academic areas. The following concepts are goals of the curriculum:
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving & Decision Making
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Research & Information Fluency
  • Communication & Collaboration

The kindergarten uses the Wilson Fundations Program, supported with a rich selection of children’s literature, to teach word awareness, syllable awareness, and phoneme awareness (isolating sounds, identifying sounds, categorizing sounds, blending sounds, segmenting sounds and manipulating sounds.) Instruction takes place in large and small groups and individually. Our goal is that students exiting kindergarten have the ability to
  • identify upper- and lowercase letters
  • know the sounds the letters make
  • read and spell some words containing up to three sounds

Teaching of comprehension strategies and skills is ongoing through read-alouds and, beginning in the winter, guided reading groups. Reading is an important topic in Kindergarten and is a constant throughout the year. We work on developing

  • group sharing and listening skills
  • peer communication techniques
  • independent problem-solving strategies
  • self-help skills
  • responsibility for one’s own actions, space, and materialsrespect for individual differences

Free play, or Choice, is an extremely important part of Kindergarten, during which students practice the above mentioned skills through dramatic play, Legos, building blocks, games, books, or various art mediums such as paint or Play dough. Students begin each day with 30–40 minutes of Choice.

Also important in kindergarten is learning proper letter formation of upper- and lowercase letters and appropriate pencil grasp. We use Wilson’s Fundations program for this. We also use the Write from the Beginning program, which progresses through the year as follows:
  • drawing pictures and associating random letters representing words with the pictures
  • writing random and initial consonants of words to complete the drawing, which evolves to using only initial consonants
  • writing initial and final sounds, vowel sounds, all syllables represented, and eventually multiple related sentences with many words spelled correctly
This last stage does not always happen in kindergarten, but our goal is to have at least one sentence, written with inventive spelling and some frequently used words spelled correctly (“trick” or “sight” words), to complete a student’s writing activity. Students have a choice at writing time of creating a journal entry or working on a “mini book.” This choice often helps to motivate children in learning to write.

Most Kindergarteners love to talk and share, and from the beginning are encouraged to share about their families through photographs and dialogue. Monday mornings start with a “weekend whip” in which we tell one thing about our weekend. Five- and six-year-olds are learning the etiquette of classroom speaking: when it is an appropriate time to contribute their own ideas and the difference between asking a question and making a comment.

In kindergarten science, our goals are for students to observe, predict, make connections, and record and analyze data. We have three units of study and we use Delta Science Curriculum.
  • Life Cycles. We begin the year by watching Monarch caterpillars transform to chrysalises and later see the butterflies emerge. In the spring, we study the lifecycles of various animals, from frogs to cows, and often visit a local pond or farm.
  • From Seed to Plant. We collect items that we think may be seeds and do some planting in a tiny classroom garden. We also plant specific seeds and track the growth of the seedling, learning the life cycle of that plant.
  • Investigating Water. During our final weeks of school, we enjoy exploring water. We see what happens when we try to divide a water droplet, learn about absorption by hanging colored paper in a cup of water, and observe what happens when a cup of water is left out over time.
Through a partnership with the Monshire Museum Kindergarten will be participating in the newest Lyme School Initiative, our Inquiry Based Science program. Students will work with Museum Scientists/Educators & their classroom teacher to cultivate their instinctive curiosity for discovery by encouraging students to formulate questions and conclusions based upon personal observation, analysis and interpretation.
Students are exposed to a variety of topics, which may include:
  • Families and personal history
  • Holidays: New Year in America and China
  • Thanksgiving traditions
  • Transportation
  • Mapping: types of maps and their purposes