The first weeks of school are “All About Me,” where the students make life-size self portraits of themselves, complete a “Star of the Week” poster to present to the class, and complete many activities to learn about all of our sameness and differences that make us unique.
Some of our other themes include Johnny Appleseed/Apples, where we will learn the history of this interesting historic character, make our own applesauce in class and taste test many different colors and types of apples, all while connecting with our friends who share the same preferences. The students also love the unit “Bats,” where they learn that bats find their prey by using echo location.
They are retaining many interesting facts while playing with their friends. This is one of the myriad ways our intentional teaching through “play” introduces children to a rich curriculum for building critical foundations. Our teachers are able form relationships with each child in order to provide an approach specific to his or her learning style and needs. Each child is challenged to stretch his or her understanding in a developmentally appropriate way. This way, each student experiences early success at his or her own level.
The Junior Kindergarten Day
Junior Kindergarten is a five day a week program that starts at 8:25 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m., with options to stay at school for “Lunch Bunch” (lunch and recess) until about 12:30 p.m., until the end of the regular school day at 3:15 p.m., or for the Extended Day option up to 6:00 p.m. — for an additional fee. For families who choose the Extended Day option, children eat lunch at 11:30 a.m.
Academic activities are introduced in the morning and are integrated with enrichment activities in the afternoon. From 7:30 a.m. until the beginning of school, there is a designated room with supervised activities for Lower School students arriving early.
Junior Kindergarten is taught by an experienced Early Childhood Education teacher and is supported by assistants with Early Childhood backgrounds. Junior Kindergarten students must be 4 years old by September 1.
Reading, Writing and Mathematics
Students participate in a variety of activities to help them build their reading and writing skills, including letter sounds, rhyming words, syllables, and learning to break words into individual sounds. During reading groups, students are placed in a group with other children at the same reading level. We use the B.O.B. book series and Raz-Kids guided reading series.
The JK students focus on handwriting skills in their daily sign-in book. Using the Handwriting Without Tears program, they master writing their first and last names and move on to other words and sentence structure, based on each student’s individual development. They also keep a journal where they dictate stories, sounding out words with assistance or writing on their own using developmental spelling.
Each morning, students help read and write a morning letter. To help them read and write, students use and practice the Zoo Phonics program, which associates individual letter sounds with both an animal and an action. They complete charts about the date and the weather. Children actively learn the days of the week, months of the year, and number recognition.
Following the scope and sequence of Math Expressions, students use manipulatives to learn about geometric shapes, sorting, patterns, numbers, measurement, and addition and subtraction. The class works together to gather information to complete pictographs.
Small group time allows teachers to focus on each child’s developmental level. Guided groups of four to six children work on language arts, math, journals, fine motor/art and are heterogeneous so the children are able to work with others at mixed levels. Guided reading groups are formed and assessed throughout the year so the children can work with other children at similar reading levels.
Science and Social Studies
Our Junior Kindergarten program is organized around a number of different themes or units of study, which blend the science and social studies curriculum with the language arts and math activities. The units typically last from one to three weeks. This is also just one of several opportunities for parents to come into the classroom to share their own expertise in an area. We plan a number of field trips to help learn more about these topics first-hand.
Our teachers and administrators help to foster children’s social interactions with peers to provide building opportunities for social skills such as cooperation, sharing, taking turns, problem solving, respect for others, and appreciation and acceptance of individual differences. In addition, they encourage children to think independently, to follow school rules and procedures, to value the opinions of others, and to follow directions.
Music, Art & Movement
In the classroom and on the playground, children have daily opportunities for music, movement, physical activity, and art. Students have formal music instruction twice a week with the music teacher, as well as informal classroom instruction. Music includes use of instruments, exploration of movement, rhythm, and singing songs together.
Art is provided within the Junior Kindergarten classroom every day. A variety of materials are used both independently and in groups. They help develop creativity and imagination, muscle control, color concepts, release for feelings and an increase in selfawareness, and reading and writing readiness.
Three times a week, Junior Kindergarten students work on gross motor development in the gymnasium. Physical education instruction guides the children in activities such as tumbling, movement, ball techniques, gymnastics, body awareness, and cooperative play. Appropriate activities, such as freeze dance and movement games, are also included in the classroom. Every day, weather permitting, free play on the playground or in the Gross Motor Room is a part of the children’s schedule.
Roycemore School believes that technology is an integral educational tool that is fundamental to the learning process. We aim for devices to be seamlessly integrated and invisible in the learning environment. Computer devices are introduced in various ways in Early Childhood, particularly through a classroom set of iPads. Students use educational apps that are relevant to topics they are learning about in class, and that allow them to create and collaborate. In addition, each classroom has a projection and sound system. Teachers work regularly with our Director of Technology to integrate technology meaningfully into the classroom.
Click here to read the full Early Childhood program guide