Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students.
At CGPS, the prekindergarten program focuses on a child-centric, developmentally appropriate approach to teaching the whole child.
The primary learning outcome of the curriculum is to address areas of social, creative, cognitive, physical and emotional development. Our pre-kindergarten students are natural scientists, mathematicians, storytellers, artists and good friends. Activities and lessons are carefully designed to ensure a developmentally appropriate, language-rich program where the curriculum is responsive to the children’s interests, needs and individual levels of development.
The units of study are deliberately structured to channel children’s innate curiosity about the community around them, inspiring an early love for learning that serves as a foundation for academic success.
Small class sizes and low student-teacher ratios provide students with a learning environment that emphasizes the development of skills, creativity and character. An enriched curriculum facilitates student learning through interactive discussion, play-based learning, cooperative group work and hands-on activities. A signature event in our prekindergarten program is Clifford Day, which is held every spring. Teachers and students read aloud books from the Clifford series as the classes study the author, Norman Bridwell. The culminating project for the unit offers opportunities for students to publish Clifford-style books that they read to their families and classmates. On this special day, students wear red and celebrate all things Clifford.
Using the approaches of Responsive Classroom, the youngest learners at CGPS start every day with a Morning Meeting. An emerging sense of self, partnered with a sense of community, are built during this classroom time. Community-building activities foster responsibility, encourage learning from from one another and form relationships that will continue throughout their time at CGPS. Beyond the classroom, the students experience swimming, music, drama, library, art, physical education, Yoga & Mindfulness and Spanish during the six-day cycle.
Our prekindergarten language arts program focuses on developing phonological awareness, the foundation for learning to read and spell. Phonological awareness includes the ability to notice and connect sounds, recognize sounds and rhyme, and hear syllables in words. Through songs, poetry and games, students become familiar with letters and the sounds they represent. During read-alouds children develop a love of literature, expand their vocabularies and learn about story structure. Students also practice letter identification, letter sequencing, and letter-sound correspondence. Uppercase letter formation is taught using the program Handwriting Without Tears.
The Grammar School mathematics program develops mathematical thinkers who can compute, communicate, collaborate, draw connections, and use a variety strategies. Thinking flexibly and persevering through investigations builds growth mindsets needed for problem solving. Skills build from grade to grade in each of the six strands of the math program: number sense, operations and computations, measurement and geometry, patterns and relationships, mathematical reasoning and data analysis. Concepts are taught from concrete to abstract levels with manipulative materials, paper and pencil work, games, performance tasks and literature. Our team of math specialists supports differentiated instruction and enrichment by collaborating with teachers on curriculum development and working with small groups of students.
Prekindergarten mathematicians explore patterns, geometrical shapes, sequencing of numbers, measuring height, weight and capacity, bar graphs and beginning concepts of addition and subtraction. They also learn about even/odd numbers and skip counting, They are introduced to simple estimation and practice number writing along with an understanding of simple number sense. They use Stem blocks to better foster an understanding of numbers, and they learn about sorting with a variety of manipulatives and objects. Students learn that math is all around them, integrated in calendars and schedules, literature, art, music, social studies and beyond. At all levels, games facilitate learning and make math fun and meaningful.
Prekindergarten students explore basic greetings, shapes, colors, body parts, the five senses, animals and other beginning words in Spanish. A unit on weather expressions and winter clothing has vocabulary reinforced by dressing a weather frog name Señor Sapo (Mr. Toad). The children develop their vocabulary by creating shapes with play dough, building patterns and other hands-on activities, as well as singing, chanting and listening to stories and by playing games like Simon Says and Mystery Box. To complement their Clifford study within their classroom, the children read Clifford books.
In prekindergarten, students become familiar with the library space. They alternate between Library and Reading Buddies classes each cycle. During library they listen to stories, often engaging in conversation about questions or ideas the story might raise. They also have the opportunity to choose a library book to take home, an act which engenders a sense of responsibility and pride and makes a positive connection to both books and to the library. In Reading Buddies, our prekindergarten students are paired with a Grammar School student in an older grade, who will be their buddy throughout the school year. This allows the children to form a unique bond with one another. In a typical Reading Buddies class, the students will listen collectively to a story, and then either engage in an activity related to the book or spend time reading other books together. Prekindergarten students also attend author and illustrator visits throughout the year.
The goal of our prekindergarten physical education curriculum is to create a safe, supportive and fun environment where the students are exposed to a variety of activities and challenges. Some basic movement and ball skills such as skipping, galloping, rolling and bouncing are incorporated into large and small-group games where children engage in interactive learning and cooperative play.
Prekindergarten dancers combine music and movement to create dance through storytelling and creative motion. Students focus on spatial and body awareness fostering self-expression and regulation. Concepts such as slow, fast, forward, backward, under, over, as well as gross motor skills such as galloping, jumping, bending, rolling and partner dances are explored. Prekindergarten dancers will start to have an understanding and appreciation of dance!
In prekindergarten, children’s love and appreciation for music is cultivated through games, stories, and movement activities. Just as children speak before they learn to read, they sing and perform before they learn the language of music. Prekindergarten students begin to identify fundamental elements of music such as pitch (high and low), dynamics (loud and soft), and tempo (fast and slow). They begin to connect sounds to actions and ideas.