The Irish poet William Butler Yeats tells us that education is not a filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire. In kindergarten, we seek to fan the flickers of those inherent desires to learn. A lifelong love of learning is most likely to develop when the earliest experiences of a child’s education are positive and rewarding. Therefore, The Geneva School is committed to a theme-based curriculum that is intricately woven and integrated across all subject areas. The school is also intentional about creating a safe and fun environment to foster developmentally appropriate growth in each and every student.
Kindergarten at The Geneva School is truly magical. Teachers invite and encourage students to discover their world and expand their remarkable minds by using higher-order thinking skills and hands-on learning. The curriculum explores history, science and nature, literature, art, music, godly character, and so much more in a loving, safe, peaceful environment in which the children thrive and blossom.
The kindergarten language arts curriculum is language rich. Through specific units of study, teachers introduce and reinforce age-appropriate language skills such as letter formation, fundamental phonics, decoding, encoding, literature, writing process, reading, and both critical and creative thinking skills. The writing component culminates in the Published Author Program, where students experience the joy of “publishing” their works.
Letter formation is a crucial tool of handwriting. At the beginning of the year, teachers place importance on the proper formation (using the D’Nealian font) through multisensory practice. This helps the children to be confident in their abilities to create words as the writing process develops. Some strategies employed are
- Guided writing
- Near and far point copying
Letters are introduced in the first semester of kindergarten at a rate of two letters per week. Wall cards show the uppercase and lowercase formations along with a picture of a key word beginning with each letter. To address various learning modalities, each letter has a visual representation, an auditory chant that reinforces the sound(s) the letter makes, and a kinesthetic motion to improve understanding and recall.
The goal is to create an environment that fosters a love of reading. Stories are shared through dramatic reenactment, artistic re-creation, the reading of contemporary and classic literature, and the oral retelling of stories. Teachers are able to encourage the unique strengths and readiness of each child through our individualized reading program. As a class, reading is reinforced daily throughout the day: students practice high frequency words, develop their auditory and verbal processing skills, and understand the sequence of events in the stories they read.
The goal of kindergarten library class is to introduce the students to good books through story time, with a focus on correlating the books read with the unit studies being taught in the classroom. Students are also taught to be responsible for the books they check out and are encouraged to choose appropriate titles and return books on time. The students are taught to appreciate and have a love for reading.
In kindergarten, foundational skills are introduced concretely, and then, as the students are developmentally able to understand and apply their knowledge, a transition is made to the conceptual. Math is integrated into other subjects and is routinely modeled and expressed throughout the school day. For example, part of the morning routine is to count how many days students have been in kindergarten. This is done by adding one (+1) to yesterday’s number. This reinforces number recognition, simple addition, and number sequencing. Students acquire hands-on practice during the bear unit. Each child brings in their favorite teddy bear and, as a class, they are introduced to sorting, ordinal numbers, more, and less. The Math Their Way curriculum is also used to build understanding of concepts such as patterns, numeration, addition, subtraction, time, and money.
The goal of the kindergarten Bible curriculum is to consistently reinforce that God the Father is our creator, the Holy Spirit is our helper, and Jesus is our savior.
This is done through
- Weekly school-wide chapel
- Daily devotion and prayer time
- Experiencing Bible stories through drama
- Bible memorization. Students memorize a section of Psalm 95, Proverbs 31, and other shorter verses throughout the year. In order to create depth of knowledge of basic biblical truths, the students memorize questions 1–21 of The Westminster Shorter Catechism for Kids.
Each morning, the students begin the day with a campus-wide morning convocation. During Bible time in class, students hear stories of creation, move through the Old Testament, and learn about Jesus’ birth in December. In the spring, they continue learning about the life of Jesus and his teachings and finish with a study of the early Church. Some of the books used in the Bible curriculum include the following: the Bible, The Children’s Illustrated Bible published by Dorling Kindersley, The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski, and The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Science and our World
Because the study of science is taught in thematic units, teachers are able to tap into each student’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder. In science, the introduction of the scientific method provides opportunities for students to reason, make predictions, and delight in the world around them. In the spring, students spend two weeks in an in-depth exploration of insects and butterflies. They become entomologists and are able to discuss life cycles, cross-pollination, and the important role these creatures play in God’s world. The climactic end of the unit is a butterfly release where students transform into butterflies, with self-designed and painted wings (symmetrical, of course), and they “fly” to the playground. Here they experience a butterfly’s work: cross-pollinating powder from painted flower to flower.
Play is the work of children. The kindergarten curriculum intentionally allows time for students to play and learn about their world. In fact, students have a designated room called Kinder Corners where they are free to engage in imaginative play as an extension of unit studies. At various times in the year, it may be a farm, the Pilgrims’ newly settled town of Plymouth, a transportation hub, a working community, an aviary, or a zoo. Each time a new unit is introduced, Kinder Corners is transformed into an environment that inspires imaginative exploration.
The community unit is one example of the nineteen units explored in kindergarten. At this time, Kinder Corners is transformed into a working community called Kinder Town. Upon arrival at Kinder Town, a payroll clerk distributes the daily allowance. Each day opens with students taking their handmade postcard to the post office where they purchase a stamp and place their card in the mailbox. Further, students have different jobs that might exist in a functioning town. For example, some students become clerks at the bank, post office, or in a store. There, students practice basic math facts such as addition and subtraction in the bank. In the post office, they will learn the process that a postcard goes through to get from the sender to the recipient. The consumers may choose to purchase an ice cream cone, pizza, or new pet, or they may decide to save their money for a rainy day. While the students receive assistance the first few days, very quickly they run the town with efficiency and grace.
Because of the practice they receive in Kinder Corners, kindergarten students are able to procure a loan (from the Geneva headmaster) and plan their own real school store. With this experience, they learn about inventory, merchandise, advertising, contracts, and interest. All this culminates in the Kindergarten School Store—an annual tradition all grammar school students look forward to. The kindergartners advertise, lay out merchandise, and sell school supplies to the students at the lower school campus.
In this unit, the students learn the following concepts through multimodal means while having fun learning about real-world applications:
- Math: Coin recognition, value, basic economics (loan, interest), pricing merchandise
- Science: Guest speakers from the community, create and run their own Kinder Town community
- Vocabulary: Occupation, advertise, merchandise, clerk, customer, contract
- Writing: Daily postcard writing, proper formatting of letters
- Art: Create a storefront, design advertisements for the kindergarten school store
The language arts are a centerpiece of classical education, and the study of foreign languages, ancient and modern, has always been part of the core classical curriculum. Students begin their study of foreign language with Spanish in kindergarten, where the basics of pronunciation, grammar, cultural knowledge, and essential vocabulary are encountered largely through song, play, and teacher-facilitated dialogue.
There are two basic goals of early language acquisition at Geneva: cultivating the skills of language learning that will support all later language study and fostering the cultural understanding necessary for living in a community increasingly influenced by Latin American culture.
In every grade at The Geneva School, music study and performance are vital to developing an aesthetically rich liberal arts education. Kindergarten students begin a general music study with vocal exploration as an important part of the curriculum. Students use singing as a means to play games, learn how to match pitch, and create musical patterns. They also learn to sing folk songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to further develop their understanding of the role that music plays in our school, history, and the Bible.
Basic rhythm patterns are introduced as iconic representations through pictures; then later they are transferred to music notation using the Kodaly method. In the orchestra unit, students learn about the four instrument families. Students also learn to play and identify classroom percussion as pitched and unpitched.
It is important to give young musicians an opportunity to learn through visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile experiences to enhance their learning and audiation skills. Students also learn hymns of thanksgiving and perform them at their Thanksgiving Play. Additional units of study include the masterworks Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, and The Nutcracker. Culminating performances include Grandparents Day and their closing ceremony.
Kindergarten art students experiment with a variety of media including watercolor, acrylic paint, soft pastels, oil pastels, clay, and ink. The goal for each project is to reinforce the basic elements of art: line, shape, color, form, texture, space, and value. The students also begin to learn about the life and works of several famous artists, including Grant Wood, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, and Wassily Kandinsky. Each project is carefully planned to coordinate with their unit of study. For example, during their farm unit, they view many of the Midwestern farm scenes painted by Grant Wood and then paint their own American Gothic. During the Christmas unit, they create a beautiful icon of baby Jesus in the arms of Mary and finish it in oil pastels. During the bird unit, they learn the art of printmaking by carving an owl image and pulling ink prints.
Through exposure to a wide variety of activities, students gain the necessary knowledge to understand the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Geneva School is committed to providing programming in physical education which allows frequent and diverse opportunities to engage in physical activities necessary to support a healthy mind and body. Kindergarten students explore sensorimotor attributes such as locomotor skills, non-locomotor skills, balance, spatial awareness, manipulative skills, body awareness, and rhythm concepts. Students are taught basic fitness concepts and some of the benefits of being physically active. The goal is for the students to relate to others positively by sharing, caring, and playing fairly. The year concludes with a cooperative game of tee-ball that demonstrates the physical and social skills students have developed throughout the year.
Field Trips and Culminating Events
Each of the field trips and culminating events that happen during the year is intentionally designed to enhance, reinforce, and create a love for the concepts the students have learned. Parent participation is not only encouraged but asked for in order to make these days as wonderful as possible.
- Farm Festival: Kindergartners celebrate the culmination of the farm unit at a local farm. Students and parents spend the day enjoying farm fun that includes games, farm animals, and a surprise for each student.
- Thanksgiving Play: Kindergartners practice public speaking skills by presenting the wealth of information they have learned from the five-week pilgrim unit in a creative, inspiring, and impressive play. They dress as pilgrims and are surrounded by props they have created in class.
- Santa’s Tree Forest: Each kindergarten class chooses a live Christmas tree from Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Eustis, Florida. Teachers, students, and parents enjoy a hayride and games followed by lunch at a nearby park.
- Christmas Party: Kindergartners celebrate the birth of our Lord by giving and receiving a specially chosen book with a classmate. Throughout the season of Advent, students make a box of special articles that represent items pointing to the truths of our Savior. Students take these home and practice telling the story of the items in their “box of blessings” with parents, friends, and relatives.
- 100 Days of School: Students celebrate the 100th day of learning with 100th-day activities and a trip to a Geneva-family-owned catering company. They make (and eat!) their own lunch as well as tour the facility.
- Audubon Visit: A representative from the local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey brings an array of birds to the campus. The representative shares many unique details of each bird with the students.
- Valentine’s Day Party: Each kindergarten class celebrates love for family and each other through crafts, games, and a snack.
- Butterfly Release: On this special day, kindergarten students show parents their beautiful, symmetrical butterfly wings, as well as the way a butterfly pollinates flowers.
- Zoo: Kindergarten students take a trip to the Central Florida Zoo to kick off their five-week unit study of mammals.
- Mother’s Day Tea: In May, kindergartners host a special tea to honor their mothers. Mothers are first greeted at the entry by a Mothers Hall of Fame where each child’s drawn and painted portraits have been hung. The students recite poems, sing songs, quote Scripture, and perform a music concert for their mothers. At the close of the performance, children demonstrate the manners they have practiced by escorting their mothers to a beautifully decorated room. There, mother and child enjoy good conversation over a catered brunch.
- End-of-Year Party: Each kindergarten class celebrates a wonderful year through crafts, games, and a snack.
- Kindergarten Closing Ceremony: Each kindergarten teacher presents an individual charge to each student. Teachers prayerfully consider each student’s potential and growth during the year and gives encouragement for the year ahead. Teachers select and present a unique Scripture verse for each student that becomes a precious keepsake for parents. This is a very special time for student and teacher alike.