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  • Nursery through Grade 8 | Short Hills, New Jersey

Kindergarten

The Kindergarten curriculum goes hand in hand with children's natural curiosity and interest to learn. Social growth and cognitive skills are encouraged in creative, playful ways that surround the process of learning with enjoyment.

Core Curriculum

Mini units throughout the year prepare Kindergarteners for future year-long core studies which begin in First Grade.  Our changing themes provide a way for young children to make sense of the world and serve as a catalyst for a broad range of learning experiences.  Topics that help develop an understanding of ourselves and our immediate environment are explored in great depth and help promote further exploration and discovery.  Themes in Kindergarten each year may include topics about Nature, Ourselves, Harvest, and Shapes.  Additionally, a study of penguins encourages social and emotional development as students learn about the community and family life of penguins, and a cross-grade study of Medieval Times with Grade Six allows for further community building.

Literacy

Through daily exposure to class discussions, conversation, story time, and singing, children are encouraged to express themselves while immersed in a variety of linguistic settings. Group discussions based on daily activities are guided by the teachers and serve to foster listening skills as well as to develop expressive language as each child is given an opportunity to answer questions or to reflect on activities. In kindergarten, the focus is on developing phonemic awareness, pre-reading, and pre-writing skills, and an appreciation of literature. Our philosophy is that each child will develop reading and writing skills at his or her own pace. Planned activities related to letters and their sounds occur regularly throughout the year. Helping children to understand symbolic relationships of all kinds (for instance, that pictures stand for objects and that the squiggled lines on a page stand for written words) provides the bedrock for learning to read.

Library: Kindergarteners continue to look closely at a book’s illustrations to enhance their understanding of a story and their empathy for the characters in the story.  They dive more deeply into non-fiction, beginning to identify some of the text features that are unique to informational books. They begin to engage in genre studies, looking for patterns and commonalities in genres such as poetry, tales, and adventures.  Their understanding of the library’s organizational system continues to develop as they are guided in how to use a book’s spine label as a source of information about genre and content.

Science

In Kindergarten we continue to build on our observation skills. In addition to discussions, the students also make drawings of their observations.  The themes of seeds, fruits and vegetables, flowers, shapes in nature, and penguins and polar bears are done with more attention to details, such as the parts of a flower and adaptations of penguins to their environment.

Math

Math is naturally woven into the fabric of the entire Kindergarten curriculum. Following a hierarchy of developmentally-appropriate skills, our goal is to have children develop a broad understanding of a variety of ways to think and talk about math. Hands on experiences allow students to manipulate tools and objects to fully understand mathematical processes, such as sorting, counting in rote fashion as well as with one to one correspondence, making comparisons, estimating, patterning, measuring, and deriving logical conclusions. In addition to these hands on experiences, kindergarteners begin to routinely document their knowledge of these topics in a formal way.

French

In Kindergarten French class, we mimic as closely as possible the process by which the children acquire their first language. To engage the students and make the learning memorable, the instruction is based on the children’s immediate environment and fantasy world. The class relies on basic vocabulary and simple language structures which the children become familiar with over time. A typical lesson may include puppets, movement, imaginative play, games, music, drawing, and storytelling.

Performing Arts

Music:  Our music goals in Kindergarten are to inspire appropriate and imaginative responses to music using the voice and the body, and to lay groundwork for music literacy through guided critical listening. Materials include American folk songs and games, Far Brook songs, songs and games from around the world in their original foreign language (such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Maori and Chinese), and formal repertoire of the classical canon, with a focus on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Children learn to access their head voices and to aurally recognize basic elements of music, such as beat and rhythm, high and low, marching and swaying, forte and piano (loud and soft), smooth sounds and bouncy sounds (legato and staccato), walking notes and running notes (quarter and eighth notes), or tutti and solo. Participation in and observation of the school-wide Traditions allow Kindergarten students to gain a sense of themselves as being a part of a larger community that values singing together, for example singing during Morning Meeting.

Dance:  Dance at the Kindergarten level builds upon the experience gained during the Nursery year, working with a developed movement vocabulary and building towards performance work. During the fall semester, dance classes will reinforce classroom learning by working with insects — butterflies, ants, grasshoppers — to develop performance work for sharing. The students will understand how to create dance with the movement qualities of each insect and will collaborate with each other and the dance teaching artists to create dances. In the spring semester, students will take part in the Medieval Dance, to be performed at the Medieval Feast, learning movement and form within a historical context.


Fine Arts

ArtKindergarten students build on their skill development and expand their options with tools and materials. Their understanding of the formal issues of art are the basis for visual expression. Learning about shapes in their classroom provides an excellent opportunity to support the creation of ceramic wind chimes with a wooden holder made in the woodshop, or a sculpture of penguins which highlights their study of penguin species. Direct observations of natural phenomenon continues to be an important method of understanding the visual world.

WoodshopThe Kindergarten curriculum continues to build upon the skills introduced in the Nursery. With a few more advanced projects completed in the beginning of the year, the students gain experience and strength with the woodshop tools before exploring their creativity by free building sculptures. 

Sports

Kindergarten students have sports class 4 times per week for 30 minutes each class.  Cooperative games are played daily and students learn to interact with each other and understand their role in the group.  Locomotor and visual motor skills are improved through games, drills, and free play with other students.  Students learn the importance of being physically active each day.

Social & Emotional

Daily interaction among the Kindergarten students provides ongoing awareness and conversations centered on a wide a range of social and emotional topics.  Exploration of these routine experiences through small and large group discussions and related literature further enhances students’ recognition and appreciation for individuality and diversity.  The topic of each child’s uniqueness and differing style and approach to life is explored and celebrated throughout the school year.

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