Junior Kindergarten Age 4
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES AND TRANSITIONS
Four and five year olds have a range of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. They learn best through their own play, being read to, and by using manipulatives, such as play dough, blocks, and paint. Socially, children are very egocentric at this age, and we encourage and model appropriate ways to play, speak, and interact with their peers. We give them the tools they need to negotiate things they need or want in the classroom. Fine and gross motor skills vary at this stage of development. The children are exposed to large and small muscle activity and play daily.
Some of the memorable events shared with our parents throughout the school year include a special dad’s day, a gingerbread house making day with mom, and both a Thanksgiving and Christmas program. Field trips are scheduled to coincide with the thematic units of study.
Language Arts: Language development is integrated into the curriculum throughout the day. The junior kindergarten 4 literacy curriculum consists of teaching to the individual child and their needs. We strive to ensure an understanding of rhyming, upper and lowercase letter identification, and sound recognition. Phonological awareness is developed as the children think about how words sound, and they participate in letter games and activities. We also create a love of reading by bringing books alive to the children and reinforcing comprehension and new vocabulary words. 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. Children are taught to write their name as well as uppercase letters. We expose the children to inventive spelling and sounding out words. The children are able to use the Smart Table to help enhance their letter and sound recognition. The environment in our classroom is rich with wonderful books, print, and writing materials. The language arts program provides enthusiasm, joy, and success for our children.
Textbooks|Resources: Handwriting Without Tears, creation of class books, literature selections
Mathematics: The mathematics curriculum for the JK4 program is based on the high Standards of Best Practices for Early Childhood Education including those from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the state of Missouri. These standards include counting, cardinality, geometry, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement, fractions and estimation, and data. Our curriculum is process oriented and uses a variety of manipulatives, which are considered “objects to think with.” These objects include teddy bear counters, linker cubes, two-colored tiles, geometric shapes, measuring cups, manipulatives, and the tools of mathematics. Because technology is a part of their lives, children use iPads and a Smart Table as tools to model mathematical concepts. Through hands-on experiences with manipulatives, the children observe, investigate, question, create, and validate their mathematical experiences. Critical-thinking skills are developed as the children are encouraged to problem solve when they explore and experiment in their daily activities. Mathematical experiences are woven into everyday routines, and conversations occur to instill mathematics as an integral part of their everyday lives.
Textbooks|Resources: MathLand (Creative Publications), Hands on Math Standards (ETA)
Religion: Through the God Made the World program, JK4 students learn that God made living things including people, holy things, the earth, and wonderful surprises. The children are read stories from the Bible and participate in creative activities to reinforce lessons taught. The children also learn that God is a loving God who wants us to always be loving and kind to ourselves and others.
Textbooks|Resources: God Made the World (Loyola Press), Seeds Magazine (Pflaum Publishing), Helping Hearts: Birthright
Science: The science program centers on themes based on values, letters, seasons, holidays, and children’s interests and ideas. Activities spark student interest and develop a love of learning new topics. Students are instructed through books, video clips, projects, cooking, discussions, observations, and experiments. The school garden and nature trail are used to enhance student learning.
Social Studies: The social studies program also centers on themes. Students build on content learned in JK3, specifically topics related to communities. The children develop and maintain friendships, use greetings, make introductions, behave in a polite manner, and share good manners.
Art: Art is integrated into all areas of the JK4 curriculum. Our preschool art education program is a developmentally appropriate curriculum which provides for all areas of a child’s development: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive through an integrated approach. The art curriculum is designed to promote a positive self-image, sensory awareness, growing independence, and an eagerness to learn. Children are encouraged to manipulate and create with a variety of materials and engage in a variety of art making processes. Social interaction and communication skills are particularly important to the preschool students’ verbal and visual expressions of ideas and feelings. Situations in which students observe and discuss original works of art and reproductions from a broad range of cultures and times are a regular part of the preschool art program. The children are exposed to many different art materials including tempera paint, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, chalk, markers, and clay.
French: The students enjoy songs and games while learning the French language and about French culture. They learn how to greet others in French and to use polite expressions such as s’il vous plait for “please” and merci for “thank you.” Practice with following basic classroom directions and simple sentence structure to reply to questions are also part of the program. Students build vocabulary with words for fruits, colors, basic body parts, and some clothing items. Cultural exploration is involved when learning about French traditions at holiday times such as Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Easter. In celebrating our French Sacred Heart heritage, students learn the Sign of the Cross and to recite a simple prayer in French just like St. Rose Philippine and St. Madeleine Sophie who spoke in French when they prayed.
Textbooks|Resources: Le petit canard, Dick Bruna; Joyeux Noël, Judy Mahoney
Music: The music curriculum in JK4 includes learning finger plays, nursery rhymes, folk songs, play parties, and simple musical games. Students learn about melodies moving up and down and repeated tones. Dynamically, we discuss singing voices, speaking voices, outside voices, as well as loud and soft sounds. Students are introduced to different instruments that play high and low sounds. The students participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas programs.
Physical Education: Foundations for physical education are laid out in the JK4 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. Through simple, active sorting games using colors and counting, children learn to follow basic rules for games and are encouraged to take turns and share. Dance and rhythmic movements are taught incorporating manipulatives such as scarves, bean bags, and tambourines. Stunts, tumbling, and balance beam activities are also introduced.
The children learn through many different teaching strategies. The class spends time in morning circle together. Throughout the day each child works in small group settings, with a designated partner, or one on one with a teacher, based on the planned activities for the day as well as individual student needs.
Student growth is assessed on an individual basis. Students are evaluated through conversation, observation, class participation, work within the classroom, and one-on-one time with the teachers. These assessments are on-going throughout the year. Parents receive report cards each quarter and meet for conferences in October and in March.
iPads and the SMART table are used to support the learning within the classroom. Technology is used to enhance the children’s knowledge of letters and numbers.
Parents of JK4 students are highly encouraged to spend time with their children reading and participate in the letter-of-the week activities.
Students begin their day with morning circle time. The children then break into small groups, centers, or individual learning time with the teacher. Throughout the morning, children attend specialty classes, such as music, strings, French, physical education, and library. 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, thankfulness, caring, giving, trust, faith, respect, and responsibility.
Teachers communicate weekly to parents through the JK4 group space, blogs, and email and are available to parents for phone conversations.