Reading and Writing is taught through The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from Teachers College at Columbia University. The mission of this program is to help young people become avid and skilled readers and writers. We use state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching reading and writing, including using performance assessments and learning progressions to accelerate progress and provide literacy-rich content-area instruction. The reading and writing units all intersect with and reinforce each other, aligning in how they develop content, skills and habits. Each day’s instruction is designed according to research- based principles. All teaching follows the “gradual release of responsibility” model of teaching. Students first learn from a demonstration, then from guided practice and then from independent work. Writing workshop includes four units of study, including one unit each in opinion, information and narrative writing. Reading Workshop includes four units of study with an equal division between fiction and information reading across the units and support for foundational skills. The kindergarten program supports a balanced literacy curriculum, which includes Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, Read-Aloud with Accountable Talk, Shared Reading, Phonics/Letter Study/Word Study, Interactive Writing and Small Group Instruction (Guided Reading and Strategy Lessons). In addition to The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, teachers utilize Jolly Phonics and Handwriting Without Tears as part of the language arts curriculum.
Kindergarten students study mathematics using the Everyday Mathematics program created by the University of Chicago. Everyday Mathematics is a researched-based curriculum that emphasizes real-life examples, continuous exposure to mathematical concepts, regular practice of computation skills and the introduction of multiple methods and problem-solving strategies. Kindergarten math activities are designed to enable students to build a strong understanding of mathematical concepts, as research shows that students have more success with written and symbolic mathematics in later grades if their kindergarten year focuses on building a strong foundation based on experience. Kindergarten math topics include counting, numeration, measurement, geometry, patterns, sorting and data-collecting.
The kindergarten science curriculum centers around the theme of change. Kindergarten scientists observe changes in the environment and nature, the community and themselves. Students learn to observe, make predictions, make comparisons, problem solve and communicate and evaluate their discoveries. Additionally, each week a kindergartner is selected to be Scientist of the Week; the child demonstrates a science experiment to the class on a topic of interest to him/her.
In kindergarten, social studies focus is on the student as an individual and then as a member of the class and school community, as well as his/her home and Jewish family. Activities and learning are designed to build an understanding that people are interdependent with many groups and that we have rights and responsibilities within these groups. Themes connected to this learning include: self-esteem, our Jewish families, our school, our community and Jewish holidays and traditions.
Children are introduced to the basic themes, symbols, and traditions of each holiday. Holiday units are interwoven with art and literacy. Children learn Hebrew words associated with the holidays and develop skills in reciting certain blessings. Songs, craft projects, and school-wide celebrations help bring the holidays to life.
Shabbat is celebrated every week in the classroom with candle-lighting, tzedakah (giving money to charity), Kiddush, and Hamotzi (prayers over grape juice and challah). Children learn the connection between Shabbat and the story of Creation and begin to understand the concept of a day of rest.
Two kindergarten traditions are the Consecration ceremony where each kindergartner is presented with their own personal Torah and a beautiful Passover Seder in which the kindergartners and their families come together for a meaningful seder led by the kindergarten educators and students.
In addition to the Tefillot kindergartners attend with the entire Lower School, kindergarten comes together for an additional kindergarten Tefillah where students are able to learn specific prayers and discuss the Torah portion of the week. Kindergarten children take great pride in their Judaism.
The primary goal of the kindergarten Hebrew program is the development of listening and speaking skills through various learning experiences. Kindergartners attend Hebrew class three times per week and learn to recognize and write the letters of the alef-bet. Additionally, they learn common Hebrew expressions, as well as words such as parts of the body, members of the family, colors, fruits and school objects. Hebrew vocabulary is reinforced through the use of songs, games, art, and other activities.