Junior Kindergarten Age 3
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES AND TRANSITIONS
Children in JK3 are happy, cooperative, eager to please, and excited about beginning their new school experience. They love their family, enjoy making new friends, and are proud of their developing independence. JK3 children rely on all of their senses as they participate in learning and play experiences. They are developing the ability to focus on an activity or project, successfully complete it, and take pride in their accomplishments. JK3 children are learning to be creative and confident when solving problems. This is a year of great language development as they learn four to six new words per day and improve their pronunciation and communication. Through a variety of play experiences, the children begin to develop their logical reasoning skills. They enjoy a challenge, and they begin to think more creatively and methodically. As three and four year olds develop more independence, they are able to enjoy friendships with their classmates. They demonstrate empathy, concern, and kindness for others. When conflicts occur, they still seek out adult help, yet they are beginning to understand the skills of negotiating as they learn and play with their classmates. Children love when their parents come to school or accompany us on field trips. This affirms the home and school collaboration as we partner together in the formation of our Children of the Sacred Heart.
Many memorable events are shared with our parents throughout the school year. Some of these events and activities included are monthly literature selections, dads’ visit, moms’ visit, Thanksgiving and Christmas programs, and outdoor activities including the garden and nature trail, as well as field trips to Good Shepherd Farm, the St. Louis Zoo, and the Magic House.
Language Arts: The Language Arts Curriculum for JK3 is based on the Standards of Best Practice for Early Childhood Education written by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Missouri. These standards include literacy and literacy writing.
As we build upon the natural interest and enthusiasm for books and story time that is inherent in young children, our curriculum is designed to inspire a life-long love of reading and communicating. This curriculum focuses on using developmentally appropriate activities that integrate reading, listening, speaking, and writing. This is a literature-based curriculum and a special story is selected from classic children’s literature each month. The theme for the month is developed around this story and is integrated into math, science, art, music, and creative activities. Children are actively engaged during story time as they learn to make predictions and develop an awareness of the nature of the characters and events in the story. Phonological awareness is developed as the children think about how words sound, and they participate in letter games and activities. Language development is integrated into the whole curriculum throughout the day. Children are encouraged to describe their block structure, express their feelings as they dramatize a favorite story, share observations at the science center, tell the story of their art work, listen for comprehension at story time, learn finger plays and nursery rhymes, and begin to express themselves through writing. Pre-writing skills are enhanced as the children participate in activities to strengthen their fine motor and visual/spatial skills through the use of manipulatives and hands-on materials. Beginning writing tools include crayons, colored pencils, and chalk. The environment in our classroom is rich with wonderful books, print, and writing materials. The children will experience enthusiasm, joy, and success in their preschool language arts experiences.
Textbooks|Resources: Handwriting Without Tears, Creation of class books, monthly literature selections
Mathematics: The math curriculum for JK3 is based on the Standards of Best Practice for Early Childhood Education written by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Missouri. These standards include counting and cardinality, geometry, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement, and data. This curriculum is process oriented and uses a variety of manipulatives which are considered “objects to think with.” These include such items as teddy bear counters, linker cubes, colored tiles, geometric shapes, measuring cups and tools, and tangrams. Through the hands-on experiences with manipulatives, the children will observe, investigate, question, create, and validate their mathematical experiences. iPads are used to personalize the math experiences of the children. Critical-thinking skills develop as the children are encouraged to problem solve when they explore and experiment in many of their daily activities. Math experiences are also woven into everyday routines and conversations. The literary center offers a variety of appealing and engaging books through which mathematical concepts can be developed and enhanced.
Textbooks|Resources: Hands on Math Standards (ETA), Mathland (Creative Publications)
Religion: Through the God Made Me program, the children understand that God created them and made them good, happy, active, and special. They grow in an understanding of God’s love and experience the joy of God’s world around them. Through the weekly Seeds publication, the children become familiar with the Sunday Gospels. They attend special Oak Hill liturgies including the Mass of the Holy Spirit; the Feasts of Mater, St. Philippine Duchesne, and St. Madeleine Sophie; Christmas Baskets; and Ash Wednesday. In February, parents are invited to a special prayer ceremony remembering baptismal days. A May ceremony in the chapel honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the mothers and grandmothers of the JK3 children. Throughout the year, the children participate in the daily practice of Espacio.
Textbooks|Resources: God Made Me (Loyola Press), Seeds Magazine (Pflaum Publishing Group), Helping Hands: Birthright Counseling
Science: Our JK3 science curriculum enhances the natural curiosity that our young children have about the world around them. Through the use of all of their senses and hands-on activities, the children are encouraged to observe, question, explore, experiment, predict, and solve problems. Their growing language skills help the children talk about their observations and share information with their teachers and classmates. The science activities enable our children to develop the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that they will use the rest of their lives. Some of the science units included in the program are metamorphosis, seasons, weather, magnets, embryology, and seeds-gardening.
Textbooks|Resources: caterpillars from the garden, hen eggs for incubation, specimens for the science table, seeds
Social Studies: As students at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, JK3 children will be introduced to a new community as they begin the school year. They meet classmates, teachers, and school personnel. The children form friendships and develop relationships within the classroom and the whole school. They begin to know and understand the role of the school personnel who are part of their first year at Oak Hill. Learning to develop and maintain friendships, acting in a polite way, and sharing good manners is an important part of our curriculum.
Art: Our JK3 art curriculum encourages the children to explore the world around them and express themselves through a variety of media. Using all of their senses, creative art experiences allow the children to talk and share, develop fine motor and visual/spatial skills, and interact with friends and teachers. The primary focus of creative art experiences in young children is to engage in and enjoy the process. Our curriculum is rich in opportunities for our children to draw, color, scribble, paint, sculpt, and paste as they are guided by their imagination and natural creativity. Some of the media used include crayons; chalk; tempera, finger, and water color paints; natural materials; and play dough. A variety of techniques are used such as drawing, painting, sculpting, collage design, printing, and computer design programs. The goal of our art curriculum is to help children express themselves and explore their world, enjoy sensory experiences, promote cognitive development, and enhance social and emotional development.
French: JK3 students begin their exploration of the French language and culture with fun songs and games. The children learn to use polite greetings and phrases such as merci, s’il vous plait, au revoir and je t’aime (for their family members). Listening to the teacher read books to them in French helps the students develop the ability to hear and reproduce different sound systems and learn new vocabulary words. Songs and games help them learn colors, to count to 10, some basic body parts, and to follow simple directions. Through holidays such as Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Easter, the children explore French traditions and how they compare to those in America. The students learn songs they perform for their families at special JK programs. Learning to recite the Sign of the Cross and a simple prayer in French helps them connect with our Sacred Heart heritage.
Textbooks|Resources: La chenille qui fait des trous, Eric Carle; Ours brun, ours brun, Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle; Bonsoir Lune, Margaret Wise Brown; Je suis grognon, Hans Wilhelm; Joyeux Noël, Judy Mahoney; Puppets
Music: The JK3 music curriculum includes learning finger plays, nursery rhymes, folk songs, play parties, and simple musical games. The students learn about melodies moving up and down, and repeated tones. Dynamically, we discuss singing voices, speaking voices, outside voices, and loud and soft sounds. The students are introduced to different instruments that play high and low sounds. Students also participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas programs.
Physical Education: Foundations for physical education are laid out in the JK3 PE class. The children learn a routine of warm up, activity and cool down. Basic concepts in safety and following directions are emphasized. Gross locomotor skills such as balance, running, jumping, hopping, and hand-eye coordination activities are introduced and practiced throughout the year. Simple, active sorting games using colors and counting are also introduced. Children learn to follow simple rules for games and are encouraged to take turns, share, and play by the rules.
In JK3, a variety of strategies are used to facilitate positive learning experiences including group activities at circle time and morning meeting. There are opportunities for small group and individual one-on-one learning. Special support and coaching strategies are also employed.
Children in JK3 are assessed through teacher observation and note taking as the children engage and participate in activities. The motivation of the child, level of engagement, and the completion of the activity are considered in the assessment.
Ipads, as well as SMART Tables, are used to personalize the learning of the children in JK3. The Internet is used as a teacher resource to find appropriate resources such as the hatching of chicks.
JK3 parents are encouraged to have daily story time with their children and to help them participate in our letter-of-the-week activities.
As the children arrive each morning, they put their backpacks away, take out their folders, and put their attendance owl on the big board. During circle time, they engage in group and personal prayer time as well as counting, calendar, weather, and a theme for the day. The children then break into small groups, centers, or individual learning time with the teacher. They take turns ringing the big bell for Espacio, a five-minute time of quiet and reflection that is held daily. During the morning, the children attend specialty classes, such as music, strings, French, and physical education. Students also enjoy daily recess and goûter. Throughout the day, the children learn to communicate, problem solve, organize their belongings, and make introductions. This allows the children to develop the following character traits: friendship, cooperation, gratitude, caring, sharing, trust, faith, respect, and responsibility.
Teachers communicate with parents through weekly emails and blog posts, monthly curriculum highlights, and phone calls as needed. Emails, with picture attachments, offer parents an opportunity to see their child participating in a variety of activities in the JK3 program. Report cards are issued quarterly, and parent-teacher conferences are held twice a year or as needed.