In Kindergarten, we discover the fun of doing mathematics. We have a balanced curriculum that is rich in real-world problem-solving activities. We are busy counting, measuring, discovering similarities and differences, and solving problems. Our program relies on discussion, exploration, experimentation and discovery. Everyday Mathematics was written by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project.
During their Kindergarten year, students explore and develop language arts skills through our elementary school-wide program developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University with Lucy Calkins as the Series Editor. It is a workshop curriculum that provides state-of-the-art tools and methods to help students move up the ladder of text complexity. It builds foundational reading skills and strategies and supports the teaching of interpretation, synthesis, and main ideas. It provides all the teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small-group work needed to teach a comprehensive workshop curriculum.
“Good teaching pays off. When you provide students with constant opportunities to read and to write, and when you actively and assertively teach into their best efforts, their literacy development will astonish you, their parents, the school administrators—and best of all, the students themselves.” -Lucy Calkins
In addition to the Units of Study in Teaching Reading, The Branch School offers a Reading Readiness program developed by the Neuhaus Education Center. With the Reading Readiness curriculum, students learn the fundamentals of reading through fun, multisensory activities. Daily lessons include activities in the areas of letter recognition, phonological awareness, oral language skills, sound-symbol correspondences, and handwriting.
Our Science program is integrated with our Language Arts and Math curriculums. Kindergarten students learn and use the STEMScopes program. Through hands-on experiments, students learn about basic needs, plant and animal characteristics, senses, living and nonliving objects, properties of objects, patterns of movement, magnets, weather, season and objects in the sky, forms of energy, changes from heat, plant life cycles, and rocks, soils, and water. We emphasize skills such as observing, comparing, describing and classifying. Kindergarten students also participate in a weekly Outdoor Classroom program.
During Social Studies, Kindergarten students focus on learning about themselves and their place in their community and the world. Students study the topics of home, family, classroom and community, and they learn about issues of safety. We learn about our state and national heritage. Areas of interest include culture, geography, and government. Students are introduced to a school-wide monthly virtue study.
In Kindergarten, students participate in Peacemaking activities that are integrated throughout their day beginning with the Morning Meeting. Peacemaking stimulates students to think about how they impact peace in their homes, school, and community. We focus our study on The Leader in Me, 7 Habits of Happy Kids, our school Standards of Conduct, and associated virtues, and the Responsive Classroom Approach. Responsive Classroom is a research-based teaching approach that focuses on the link between academics and social-emotional learning. Methods are utilized to engage the class and encourage questioning, investigation, research, and healthy debate. Lessons are designed to help students develop strong ethical character, learn the skills they need to resolve conflict and take responsibility for themselves.