Reading for pleasure is introduced in Kindergarten and is an eagerly anticipated activity. Children learn the basics of reading and writing through the study of phonics, and will be able to name the consonants and repeat their sounds. They also learn the names and the long sounds of vowels. Their enjoyment and pleasure in their success at mastering phonic rules shows they are ready for independent reading, and their preparation in phonics has stimulated their minds and increased their interest in the printed word. Kindergarten children’s visual acuity is unmatched, and they are taught to sound out words of one syllable that contain two vowels. They display great delight in their newfound ability to read all by themselves, taking a step forward to a new level of confidence in their academic life.
The long sounds of the vowels are taught first in the Carden Reading Method® for two important reasons:
- Long vowels say their name, “A says A,” and the emerging reader finds security in this comforting rule.
- Rhythmic reading is more easily mastered and is not discouraged by hearing the staccato sound of a short vowel in a word. Short vowel sounds are taught during the second semester.
Carden Method® reading books do not include illustrations to encourage children’s visualization of the words being sounded out. This approach quickly teaches children that combinations of the sounds of letters represent things they already know and like, such as “cake” and “bake.” By removing visual cues that interrupt the phonics approach of the Carden Reading Method, each child experiences the exhilaration of correctly sounding out words and recognizing what the words represent. Teachers use small group lessons to promote reading comprehension and to introduce new words, helping children develop a rich vocabulary. These lessons stimulate critical thinking, as children are taught to make judgments through the use of questions; The children learn to think as they read.
We use the world-class Singapore Math curriculum for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, which is based on the textbooks and syllabuses of Singapore’s national curriculum. The Singapore Math program emphasizes problem solving and model drawing, focusing on an in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts. The curriculum covers a relatively small number of topics, which are carefully sequenced by grade. Mathematical concepts are taught by moving from the manipulation of concrete items to pictorial representations, and finally to abstract representations. Students are expected to master each concept before moving on, as subsequent lessons build on prior concepts.
In kindergarten, we help children develop a strong number sense, which is the ability to understand the relationship between numbers and quantities—specifically that a set of objects has the same number of objects regardless of position or arrangement of the objects.
Children will be able to compare two or more sets of objects (up to 10 objects in each group), and identify which set is equal to, more than or less than the other. Children are taught to count, recognize, represent, name and order objects up to 30. Children will be introduced to the numbers from 0 through 100.
Children are taught to understand and describe simple addition and subtraction concepts by using concrete objects to determine the answers. Children are taught estimation strategies in computation and problem solving involving numbers using the ones and 10s place. Children learn to identify, sort and classify objects by attribute, and identify objects that do not belong to a particular group. For example, children will be able to tell green balls belong in one group and red balls belong in another.
Children learn objects have properties such as length, weight and capacity, and that comparisons may be made by referring to those properties. For example, identifying which object is shorter, longer, taller, lighter, heavier or holds more.
Children will be able to demonstrate an understanding of time, including morning, afternoon, evening, today, yesterday, tomorrow, weeks and years. They will be introduced to the calendar and the clock. Children will be able to name the days of the week, and will learn to identify the time, to the nearest hour, for everyday events such as recess at 10 o’clock a.m.
Multiplying is introduced by orally counting by 2s, 5s and 10s.
The teacher dictates the sounds of the consonants and vowels each day as the children print the letters. As the school year progresses, the teacher adds to the dictation of consonants with words the children can spell.
Children are taught to print all lowercase letters by following a dot-to-dot system. They begin with the “eight c’s”. These are letters containing a c shape. Lowercase letters are introduced first, followed by uppercase letters.
At the beginning of the second semester, smaller-lined “first grade” paper is used to ready the child for first-grade printing.
Poems written by a variety of authors are memorized by the children. Kindergarten students will commit to memory and perform a dozen of these poems during an assembly to gain poise during public speaking and take pride in a job well done. Appreciation for good writing and an understanding of the children’s culture is developed through exposure to fine literature. Such activities are the first steps in preparing for the golden age of memory each of us carries throughout life.
Books read to the children by the teacher include:
- Over in the Meadow
- Under the Window
- The Little Engine That Could
- Play With Me
- Under the Window
- Johnny Crow’s New Garden, illustrated by Leslie Brooke
- Marshmallow, by Clare Turlay Newberry
- First Day Jitters
- Spookley the Square Pumpkin
- Gingerbread Man
- Imogene’s Antlers
- Dr. Seuss
The primary parts of a sentence, the subject and verb, are taught by presenting the subject of a sentence as “who” and the verb of a sentence as a “doing.” This method provides children with a grounded sense of sentence structure. As an example, the teacher writes on the board, “Jane smiled.” The teacher then asks, “What question can I ask for which the answer would be Jane?” The students reply, “Who smiled?” Questions continue in this manner for other sentences, strengthening the concepts of subject and verb in the minds of the students. The correct terminology for parts of speech is taught in second grade.
This simple technique allows for teaching advanced concepts in a manner that a small child can comprehend. At the end of a lesson, children illustrate their own work. As they freely draw and color, each child’s mental image of the words is consolidated in memory.
The FOSS (Full Option Science System) program is taught two days a week in the science lab by Mrs. Stone, a single-subject science teacher. FOSS usually includes hands-on learning activities.
There are three modules in kindergarten: trees, wood and paper, and animals two by two. In the Trees module, children develop an understanding of trees’ place at school and in the community. Children observe and describe the properties of trees and leaves in the schoolyard, and acquire vocabulary associated with the properties and structures of trees and leaves.
In the Wood and Paper modules, children are introduced to a wide variety of woods and papers in a systematic way. They observe the properties of these materials and discover what happens when they subject the materials to a number of tests and interactions with other materials.
In the animals two by two module, children interact closely with some common land and water animals. They observe, describe, and compare structures and behaviors of these animals. In addition, the children observe daily changes in weather over the year, and the impact weather has on living things.
Children research and prepare a science experiment and then present it to the class in the school science fair, Carden Scientists—always an eagerly anticipated activity!
Children respond to their experiments through words or drawings recorded in their science notebooks to learn the process of scientific inquiry.
Physical education teachers work with children on an individual basis to develop basic motor skills such as eye-hand and eye-foot coordination. Children also learn simple plyometric skills such as hopping, jumping, skipping and increased agility of movement.
Frequent games such as capture the flag, dodge ball and different variations of tag are played in addition to practicing skills for field hockey, volleyball, basketball and cricket.
The physical education teachers also prepare the children for nationwide presidential fitness testing.
Kindergarten students perform a patriotic song on stage during Friday assembly, participate in school productions and perform in a class play. The children are taught music theory and music appreciation in two half-hour classes each week. Singing, dancing and guided movement are used to teach children a sense of rhythm and beat.
Students also learn to use rhythm instruments and are taught beginning piano.
Art & Art Appreciation
Art is taught in the art room one hour each week by a single-subject teacher.The art teacher instructs the children in the use of different media, teaching them to mix primary, secondary and neutral colors. Children are helped to develop contour line-drawing techniques, and are exposed to the use of the Chinese brush technique to expand their knowledge of watercolor in art. Children are taught three-dimensional art techniques using clay, as well as preliminary instruction in drawing human figures. Some work is done using pastels, and the crayon-resist medium is also explored.
Art appreciation is taught once a week for one half-hour. Children are taught attention to detail and learn to articulate their ideas about visual art. They learn to compare the new art they are shown to past experiences, encouraging them to enjoy fine art while developing the ability to form mental images so details of a work can be recalled with ease. Carden students study Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Raphael, Van Gogh, Cassatt, Homer, Degas and Wyeth, among others.
Computer productivity is taught in the computer lab room each week by a single-subject teacher. Children learn basic computer skills and terminology, including basic skills in Word Processing, Multimedia, Desktop Publishing, Spreadsheets and working with graphics. Training focuses on mouse control and following directions.
A gentle introduction to French is offered through songs, poetry and vocabulary development, using the technique of game playing. Children are taught to spell French words phonetically using the sounds of the French alphabet. By the end of kindergarten, children are able to write a simple sentence in French and spell their names. French is taught following the same phonetic approach used in the teaching of reading in English.