Our class is in session all day. We begin at 8:20 and end at 2:50. The all-day approach works well because it allows for flexibility. We do not do more but we do take our time and do our best! This flexibility allows us to be more creative, slow down and discuss. It provides time for a daily story time, a daily rest period, trips outdoors to the playground, and lots of fun art projects. If we had a half-day session the children would be confined to working only with the academic requirements. This way we can work hard and still enjoy being five and six years old!
My philosophy on Kindergarten can be easily summed up in one wonderful concept. The purpose of Kindergarten is to help the little ones learn to love school. I would hope that each child comes to believe that Sacred Heart Kindergarten is a warm, welcoming, safe place to come to learn how to read, to do math and to learn about our faith. I hope that each morning every child is eager to come to school and ready to learn. I hope that this gives the children a firm grounding and prepares then to succeed in first grade and far beyond.
In Kindergarten our classroom rules are simple but very important. They are:
Our classroom is a busy place. When school begins in the fall, we work at learning our schedule. In the morning, we begin each day with Prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our “Morning Message”. We review the month, day, and date. We keep track of the number of days since school has begun, which also serves as our countdown to the 100th Day of School. To commemorate this day, we each work on a project to collect 100 “things”…past collections have included 100 coins, 100 rocks, 100 marbles, and even 100 pieces of candy!
Midway through Kindergarten, we begin to learn the workshop way. This promotes the development of independence needed to succeed in First Grade. The children rotate through four “centers”. They are reading, math, “jobs” and handwriting. Each day we need a volunteer to help us successfully complete the rotation. Having a volunteer in our classroom helps each child to get individual attention at reading and math, develop better small motor skills, and reinforce needed concepts by exploring them at their own speed.
Our schedule also includes our “special” subjects: Art, Library, Computers, and Gym. We have these classes once each week. On Fridays, we attend School Mass with the rest of our school, and during Lent we attend Stations of the Cross each week.
Each year we take several field trips. In the fall, we go apple picking at Unangst Farm in Bath. In preparation for our Thanksgiving Feast, we take a tour of Wegmans’, and we shop for our feast supplies. To celebrate Jesus’ birth, we visit the Moravian Putz in Bethlehem, where we are treated to a beautiful display for both the eyes and ears. In the spring, our destinations have included viewing a play, taking a trip to a local gymnastic center, seeing the animals on a trip to Trexler Game Preserve and having a class picnic with First Grade.
As a culmination of the year, Kindergarten has a very special graduation. Each year the class traditionally puts on a little graduation play. Each child has a small speaking part. This is followed by a graduation ceremony and reception.
In Kindergarten, we have little homework. The most important is each Friday in the fall semester the student is responsible for completing one or two letters in our Word Books. The children and parents enjoy this review activity. I send home the sight words on a ring. As the year progresses the children are encouraged to practice the words at home. Practice makes perfect.