How 'persona dolls' help Kindergartners explore identity and develop empathy.
Our Kindergarten curriculum engages children’s natural curiosity and energy. From scientific explorations of water, wood and paper to social studies lessons about personal identity, communities and families, our youngest learners are guided to ask questions, observe closely and share ideas. Children spend ample time outdoors as part of our outdoor education program. Letters, sounds and words come alive in our reading program. Math concepts become real as children use numbers in useful ways. The sounds of a new language, the skills of new games in physical education, and the notes of new songs add texture to the children’s days. Art projects—whether constructed in the woods or painted in our sunlit studios—focus on technique, appreciation, and joy.
- Social Studies
- Language Arts
- Physical Education
- World Language - Spanish
Discovery of self and other are the essential themes in Kindergarten. Children begin their studies of societies and groups by learning and practicing ways to describe themselves and the people they know. Within the first weeks of school, colorful self-portraits appear on the classroom walls. Families play an important role through visits and objects from home, which help to explain celebrations and traditions. Our annual maple sugaring project belongs to the Kindergarteners, who tap the sugar maple trees around campus and celebrate their harvest with a pancake breakfast. The children’s connection to the Foote community is strengthened as they meet and learn about the responsibilities of the adults at our school and create a campus map.
Children's fascination with the world around them provides the basis for the Kindergarten science program. Students explore the classroom and outdoors through field trips, visits from members of the New Haven community, cooking, building, planting and experimenting. They consult books and use scientific tools to enhance their explorations. A highlight of the Kindergarten year occurs in the early spring, when children tap the sugar maple trees around our campus. From the watery sap that drips into the buckets to the rich syrup that emerges from the final boil, the sugaring experience provides one of many opportunities for our students to engage with the world.
In Kindergarten, language arts experiences take place throughout the day and throughout the curriculum. Daily read-alouds in a warm and nurturing setting encourage everyone to share ideas and observations. Favorite authors, illustrators and award-winning books are showcased frequently, encouraging the joy of reading, writing and appreciating literature. Our balanced approach blends these holistic activities with foundational skills; children are introduced to letter recognition, letter writing and letter-sound correspondence in a systematic way. Individual and small-group reading activities support children's growing knowledge. In their writing, Kindergartners employ dictation and phonetic spelling to encode their own ideas and to reinforce their knowledge of sound-symbol relationships. The children are exposed to the editing process as they prepare their pieces for an authentic audience.
Familiarity and comfort with numbers are principal goals of mathematics in Kindergarten. Children engage in daily conversations and activities using calendars, mathematical vocabulary (the names of numbers, words for different kinds of measurement, time and comparisons). They gain proficiency in counting, recognizing patterns and geometric shapes, and grouping items based on attributes. The concept of quantity is a significant focus in Kindergarten, as children begin to understand the processes of addition and subtraction.
Young children have a natural ability to perceive, create and appreciate the visual arts. Colors, shapes, and forms come alive in kindergarten art classes, as students explore and become familiar with a wide variety of media: paint, clay, fabric, wood, wire, and natural materials. We teach basic techniques and encourage a positive attitude, fine motor skills, patience, and concentration, and, perhaps, a lifelong interest in art. Lessons are often motivated by the reading of stories or poetry. Owls, faces, book characters, and familiar places all become the subjects of exciting projects.
One of the primary goals of music instruction in Kindergarten is to foster of love of music in each student. By participating in active music-making experiences, children are led to discover musical elements and develop skills, leading to another primary goal: musical literacy. Students learn to recognize and demonstrate their singing voice; gain awareness of personal space through movement; demonstrate cooperation and listening skills; and become confident performers as they sing at the Spring Assembly and dance at our May Day celebration.
Kindergarten drama focuses on the idea that drama is about the use of the imagination and pretending. Through games, participatory stories and pantomime, children are encouraged to use their observational and listening skills and sensory recall to enact small moments and scenes. Creativity, collaboration and cooperation are incorporated into activities, as children discover the ways that movement and gesture can convey an idea or a concept.
In Kindergarten, emphasis is on the development of gross and fine motor skills, spatial awareness and the concept of following directions. Classes always begin with a warm-up activity that covers a variety of skills and addresses all fitness levels. Locomotive movements such as hopping, galloping, leaping, jumping, skipping, running and walking are practiced daily. Using various pieces of equipment (yarn balls, scarves, bean bags, beach balls, spider balls, balloons, soft rubber balls, scoops, foam paddles, whiffle-balls and bats), we begin developing throwing, catching and striking skills. Kindergarteners work on hand-eye and eye-foot coordination on both their dominant and non-dominant sides. Gymnastics is part of the winter schedule, addressing areas of balance, flexibility, endurance and strength.
During their regular visits to the library, Kindergarteners listen and participate actively in read-alouds and storytelling. The librarians lead conversations that encourage children to access prior knowledge about books. Lessons include identification of parts of books (illustrations, end papers, page layout, etc.) and comparisons between fiction and nonfiction. Children learn to connect new ideas to information that they already know.
For our youngest students, language instruction focuses on listening, speaking, and pronunciation as the keystones of language study. Our emphasis on oral communication encourages children to distinguish and replicate sounds. Kindergarten students are introduced to the sounds and patterns of Spanish through nursery rhymes, puppets, songs, stories, games and role-playing. Art projects are also used to teach elementary vocabulary such as days of the week, animals, family, seasons, weather and numbers. Some of the topics covered in class are salutations, numbers, house, family and letters. Additionally, students learn about Hispanic culture through children’s books and special projects.
In early spring, Kindergartners tap Foote’s sugar maples to learn about making sap into syrup. The unit combines science, math, social studies and language arts, ending with a celebratory sap boil and pancake breakfast.
Assistant Head of School
Beth Mello oversees the school's curriculum development; diversity, inclusion and social justice initiatives; and faculty professional development.