4530 MacArthur Boulevard
Washington, DC 20007
"Each child’s learning and development are at the core of the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten curriculum. Its goals are to help children feel comfortable with themselves, their teachers, and their peers in and outside the classroom; develop a sense of their own competence and self worth, and learn to feel positive about themselves as independent people in the world away from home; learn to effectively and happily interact with others; and learn to resolve conflicts and find cooperative solutions."
- Excerpted from the preschool's website
Music (twice a week)
The goal of the music program is to introduce and reinforce basic musical concepts through singing, movement, dancing, playing instruments, and structured listening. The concepts include tempo, rhythm, and dynamics.
Visual Arts (daily)
Art projects are a part of each week’s activities; a wide variety of art materials is available during free-choice times. Art is fully integrated into child- and teacher-initiated language arts, social studies, science, and math projects. Experiences are also planned for the sheer joy and excitement of self expression through art.
Language Arts (daily)
Our youngest students receive a rich variety of firsthand experiences and multiple ways to express their feelings, ideas, and experience through language. The children get excited about school—their play, classroom materials, scientific observations and discoveries, arts and crafts projects, friends and fourth-grade buddies, cooking experiences, assemblies, school-wide projects (e.g., making cards for children at NIH and the Valentines for UNICEF project), classroom visitors, and field trips. These experiences are reinforced by having the children discuss them and draw pictures, write, and read about them.
Children are encouraged to talk, to communicate effectively in play, to speak before the whole class, to dramatize stories, to reenact field trips (e.g., pretend to be fire fighters, hotel personnel or doctors), to recite and create poems, to sing songs, to ask questions, and to read aloud to the class the stories that they themselves have written.
Every child is an author. Each keeps a journal and writes books. Depending on their developmental level, children draw and dictate their words to a teacher or write using “inventive” or “developmental” (phonetic) spelling. Teachers introduce alphabet letters and sounds to the children through memorable concrete materials and experiences. These experiences may be art, science, math, social studies, music, or kinesthetic. Language arts is often integrated with other subject areas. Time is invested in developing the gross and small motor skills on which reading and writing depend. Children learn how to form letters correctly using pencils. They begin to experience writing as a process. While a few children may read with fluency when they enter pre-kindergarten or kindergarten and some are emergent readers, many others are just learning letter names and sounds. A variety of instructional methods, games, and activities introduce phonemic awareness.
Through exposure to high-quality children’s literature, the children have many opportunities on a daily basis to increase their knowledge of concepts of literacy through print, story sequence, and illustrations. They learn that words have meaning, that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the written and spoken word, and that print flows from left to right and top to bottom. They learn to predict the outcomes of stories, begin to acquire a sight vocabulary, become familiar with sentence structure, make visual and auditory discriminations about letters, and become familiar with punctuation marks. In addition, our print-rich classrooms provide opportunities for the children to read a wide variety of printed matter, ranging from their picture job charts and daily schedules to group experience stories, Big Books, easy-to-read books, and other library books. All of this reading occurs in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms every day, but children at GDS are not placed into formal reading groups until first grade. One of the main goals in prekindergarten and kindergarten is to motivate children to learn to read and to instill in them a love of books. We target phonology foundation using a variety of instructional methods, games and activities.
Library (one period a week in half groups)
Through weekly visits, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are introduced to story-time and book discussions, which are interwoven with the classroom curriculum. Students learn to choose, check out, and to be responsible for returning their book selections. The students acquire and practice appropriate library etiquette.
The PK/K classroom and daily routine is designed so that children acquire math concepts and skills through both child-initiated and teacher-initiated activities. The children discover and explore mathematical concepts both on their own and through teacher-directed lessons. Concrete materials are carefully chosen and logically arranged to teach math concepts so that through play and clean-up, children develop the ability to classify and sort, count, compare, and match using one-to-one correspondence. Throughout the day math is highlighted, demonstrating the vitally important role that math plays in students’ lives. The daily routine includes asking children to figure out the different periods in their daily schedule, the day of the week, the day of the month, the number of children present and absent, and the number of days we have been in school. Counting opportunities abound. Sequence and order are reinforced as each arts and crafts project is introduced through review of what to do first, second, next, and last. Every attempt is made to integrate math into all subject areas. Children are engaged in two or three additional formal teacher-directed lessons each week followed by sufficient time to explore and practice math concepts through selected manipulative materials. Basic concepts and skill practice include work with the ordering of numbers, numerical symbols, one-to-one correspondence, classifying, sorting, measuring, data collection and graphing, pattern discrimination and naming, and the numbers 1-100. Work with identifying, naming, and comparing attributes associated with shape, size, color, and texture further strengthens concept formation. Collecting, joining, and separating sets of objects while introducing such terms as “greater than,” “less than,” or “equal to” reinforces correct use of terminology and symbols. Specific work with blocks, sand, and water expand student knowledge of three-dimensional space and symmetry. A math specialist works with small groups of children once a week to give all students an opportunity to explore concepts in greater depth while developing the language of mathematics through enhanced work with manipulatives. The specialist may reinforce concepts, introduce additional concepts, or evaluate the children’s math strengths. It is a busy year where learning and playing intertwine.
Physical Education (four periods a week)
In PK/K, students develop basic body control, explore concepts of rhythm and space, and learn how to use balls, implements, and other equipment. Classes emphasize working with partners and classmates and involvement in basic patterns of play and games. Students also learn the importance of following directions. By year’s end children should take joy and satisfaction in physical activity and their developing physical skills and strength.
Science (daily ongoing science projects)
There are daily opportunities for children to observe, to ask scientific questions, to experiment, to note results, and to refine their thinking. Whether observing that cooking ingredients change with heat or constructing a ramp in the block area, for example, children explore scientific principles in their play. Teachers encourage this thinking by providing materials, plants, and animals in the classroom, by encouraging children to display their own “museum” collections, and by introducing planned units throughout the year such as planets, birds, and seeds. In the classroom, chicks and ducks hatch, seeds sprout, and caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies. Once a week, our science specialist visits our classrooms and presents interesting animals and mini science lessons to the class. We do everything we can to extend children’s wonder of life.
Social Studies (daily)
Social Studies centers around the question: Who am I? The topic children this age are most interested in is, appropriately, themselves. What do I look like? What foods do I like best? Who is in my family? What can I do? The goal in social studies is to build each child’s positive self-image and to help children learn what is unique and special about them, what they share in common, and how to function as part of a group. Who is in my family, in my school, in my community, and in my world? In order to support these concepts, we plan special activities and field trips to broaden their knowledge of the roles people play in the world of work and provide ideas for creative dramatic play in the classroom. The children also explore a variety of cultures and celebrate numerous holidays and customs, based in part on the diverse population of their classrooms. They celebrate the lives of diverse individuals who have made lasting contributions to our world.
Students work together in the computer lab once a week to learn effective communication and cooperative work skills. Software such as Advanced Jump Start, MaxWrite/Doodle Pad, and other programs that reinforce language, number, and spatial concepts familiarize the children with the computer keyboard and commands.
Health and Wellness
Childhood is a unique and valuable stage in the life cycle. Our paramount responsibility is to provide a safe, healthy, nurturing, and responsive setting for children. We support children’s development by cherishing individual differences, by helping them learn to live and work cooperatively, and by promoting self-esteem. In PK/K our daily schedule provides a balance of open-ended and structured time in which our health curriculum naturally occurs. Group meetings, snack/sharing, lunch, concept time, discussion times, outside time, and interactive play present natural opportunities to learn about topics ranging from nutrition and family lifestyles to growth and environmental health. Conflict resolution is also an important element of learning. Conflicts are a natural consequence of group living and learning. Learning the steps of conflict resolution is as much a function of the curriculum as is discovering the life cycle of a butterfly or chick. Our health curriculum aims at creating and maintaining a setting that fosters the children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development and that respects their dignity and their contributions in our community.
Community Service (weekly)
Each week, PK/K students make cheese sandwiches that are delivered by parent volunteers to Martha’s Table, a local service organization for the homeless. By keeping track of how many sandwiches are made, students know how many people they are feeding throughout the year. Kindergarten students periodically visit with seniors at a local retirement home."
- Excerpted from the preschool's website