A Step Ahead: Rigorous Severn Academics Start in Kindergarten
Kindergarten is a year full of discoveries where the process of learning is just as important, if not more, than the end product. To successfully transition from early school to their elementary years, children must be fully engaged in experiences that promote their social and academic growth. In our kindergarten classrooms, students learn essential academic skills like reading, writing, and math while also learning how to solve problems independently and collaborate with one another. Our demanding but balanced program ensures that our students are a step ahead as they begin their educational journey. The result is students who are playfully creative, independent and above all, excited to learn more each day.
Learning to Read, Reading to Learn
Learning to read accurately and fluidly, with good comprehension and stamina, is a crucial set of skills that begin in kindergarten. We teach our students to read through a developmental process that unfolds in a sequential and nurturing manner. Our reading language arts program supports students in the process of decoding words, reading fluency, and comprehension using a variety of materials in a print-rich environment. Our students don’t just read books, they fully engage with books; they make connections to stories and continue to explore what they’ve read through lessons in other curricular areas like math and social studies. They read to learn vocabulary, they read to learn about the world, and they read for the joy of reading.
Zero to Sixty: Learning to Write
There is no more dramatic a transformation in writing development than what happens from the beginning of kindergarten to the end. Our students start the year learning to write letterforms, simple words, and short phrases. By the end of the year, they are using higher-level thinking skills to form, organize, and express complete thoughts through writing cohesive, meaningful sentences.
While this journey may seem magical, it is the result of purposeful practice guided by our expert faculty. Our teachers and assistants work individually with each student to assist them in developing fine motor skills (from holding a pencil correctly to correctly forming letters) and writing skills (from sounding out individual letter sounds to using resources around the room to write sight and content words). In addition to explicit writing lessons, our students write in their journals daily, responding to prompts throughout the week with free-write on Fridays. They are full of pride in their writing and it shows. We celebrate this process daily as students share their journal entries with classmates and teachers.
Making It Count
Teaching kindergarten math involves much more than simple counting and number processes. Children need to have math experiences that incorporate their senses, that require them to experiment and make observations, and that allow them time to investigate a topic further. In a recent math lesson, our kindergarten students played a math scavenger hunt game where the answer to each question was a clue for finding the next set of problems. They had to work together in teams and evaluate their own answers to move correctly from one station to another. Our teachers provided a “rescue station” where students could independently find strategies to help them if they got stuck. This type of lesson provides memorable experiences that engage our students on multiple levels. This is the kind of learning that sticks.
Collaboration Around Every Corner
Working in teams activates a range of social skills from empathy and compassion to confidence and leadership. From the first day of school to the last, we provide opportunities for our students to collaborate, to learn active listening, and to develop problem-solving skills. From helping a friend on the playground and sharing a book at a center, to collaborating as a group to explore engineering challenges with our Rigamajig blocks, students learn essential communication skills.
Whether in the classroom or on the playground, our students learn how to think critically and solve problems on their own. We empower our students with the freedom they need to try, fail and try again. Rather than give our students solutions to problems, we teach them how to think through every step and arrive at the solution on their own.
At the beginning of the year, if a child sees a word they don’t know how to spell or a math problem they can’t solve they might immediately turn to their teachers for help. Our teachers offer that help, but they do so by giving our students tools they can use to figure things out on their own. Rather than simply telling the child how to spell or solve the equation, they show them how to use tools around the classroom to kick start their thinking. The next time that child comes across a stumbling block, they will have developed a strategy to step across it with confidence.
“We are teaching them the foundational skills they are going to use for the rest of their lives. We don’t focus as much on teaching them to be students, we teach them to be learners. The real reward is watching a student who is afraid to take a risk and try something new overcome that and just blossom. You’ve helped them build that confidence and they soar.” — Ms. Schubert