At five and six years old, the students in Kindergarten and Young Kindergarten are very much the senior members of the Early Childhood division, and they face new expectations to serve as leaders in the halls. At the same time, they are introduced to life in the older grades as well, through Tuesday Common Ground, on the playground, and spending time with their second grade buddies.
With the added responsibility comes new autonomy. Students will find they have new license to explore long-term projects during choice time, and a new capacity to work alone or in small groups with less direct help from an adult. In turn, they may find themselves entrusted to care for a patch of garden, a corner of the classroom, or, in the spring, a live caterpillar or baby chick.
Young Kindergarten and Kindergarten represent a shift from Nursery and Preschool; there's one teacher in each classroom, and the three classrooms open onto a shared space that, formally and informally, serves as a meeting place and collaborative classroom for all of the students.
Young Kindergarten and Kindergarten are the first years when direct instruction in Spanish is introduced through weekly visits to the language lab. They are also the first years when students of color are invited to participate in Tuesday Common Ground after school. Heritage Language continues to be offered once a week to students who come from Spanish-speaking households.
In Kindergarten and Young Kindergarten, students take on new, more formal roles in the school community. They perform in all-school assemblies for the first time, and have their first "after-hours" evening concert. They have their first taste of civic responsibility, too: the Share the Warmth service project, with its beloved schoolwide popcorn distribution, is a very public foray into service to others.
Academic work takes on a new feel as well in Kindergarten, with daily, direct instruction in both math and literacy the days of the school year are tallied, "lively letters" are introduced, and writer's workshop becomes part of the morning routine. Their literacy skills are formally assessed three times a year to ensure every student is appropriately challenged, and the Pathways Program is offered to students who would benefit from additional support in reading and writing.
Gordon's literacy specialist and math specialist begin visiting the classroom during Kindergarten. The literacy specialist will work closely with students throughout Lower School, and the math specialist will be a regular presence all the way until eighth grade.