In All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, author (the person who writes a book—we learn that in kindergarten!) Robert Fulghum points out that the most important life lessons are taught when we are very young, and they start on that very first day in kindergarten! Some lessons he mentions are:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Even though we are only a matter of days into this year of kindergarten, we are busy learning these lessons and more! Though some of the lessons we are learning are timeless (working together, sharing), some of them are BRAND NEW! In the eyes of a kindergartener, anything new deserves a smile and cheer, from a new pencil, to a new stick found on the playground, to a new band aid (really)! This year at Calvary Christian School, the above mentioned lesson about napping was moved to “homework” status. Our students are getting their rest time at home, and teachers are maximizing each minute of full-day kindergarten to actively pursue academics all day.
Along with our Envision Math program (Common Core-aligned, problem solving-based, overflowing with fun manipulatives, and incorporating technology), we have added a great deal of writing to our daily schedule. The research-based program Handwriting Without Tears teaches printing on double lines. It “makes sense” developmentally with kindergarteners, as we learn handwriting from first forming letters with wooden sticks, then transferring to chalkboards and finally, to paper. In kindergarten, we not only love hands-on, we also love anything that promises to be “without tears”!
Our language program combines the study of letters and phonics with sight words and literature. We are busy singing and dancing about words, reading those words, and then incorporating them into our writing! This cohesive curriculum ties reading and writing together as our students not only learn to read, but also become authors themselves!
Whereas our language program builds from letters and words, we also love the new Sentence School curriculum, which teaches the structure of a sentence. Students identify subjects and verbs, and learn the importance of beginning with a capital letter, spacing their words, and ending with a period. We are also using the Step Up to Writing program to practice the writing process of brainstorming, planning, drafting, editing, and writing a final copy while writing sentences, and even paragraphs!
In the afternoons, our kiddos get moving (though really, they never stop doing that all day!) and they rotate among the three kindergarten teachers to interactive science, social studies, and a manners classes. Manners of the Heart teaches, models, and practices “life lessons” like table manners and kindness and care for others. This program is not only fun, but is helping with behavior both in school and out, as our young ladies and gentlemen learn!
FOSS is the name of our new science curriculum. It is entirely hands-on. Each lesson either gets us up and outside or we get our hands messy in an experiment. We learn about materials in the earth, animals, trees, and weather. Daily, we are blown away as we get a better glimpse of how AWESOME our God is through observation and experimentation.
One aspect of our kindergarten program that will never change is the focus on our Creator, Savior, Helper, Healer, Rescuer and our Love, the Lord. We cannot get enough of worshiping and learning about our great God through Bible study and memorization, as well as through discussions of how to personally apply biblical character traits. We endeavor to shine for the Lord in our lives.
Though our kiddos are learning so many important life lessons – nearly “everything they need to know”, we do recommend they don’t apply to college until at least after 1st grade.
-Michelle Gracey, Kindergarten Teacher