In the Indian Mountain School pre-kindergarten class, 4-year-old children join together to learn, work, and play. Problem-solving skills develop through play, as classmates learn to share and take turns. They make new friends–not only among their peers but also with older children in the school, ranging from kindergarten playmates to third-grade “Reading Buddies” and fourth grade friends too. Pre-kindergarteners grow in habits of mind required for independent learning: the readiness to try new activities and the patience to follow a project through to completion. The children develop phonemic awareness skills, learning to identify letters and sounds as they study topics related to the alphabet. (“Aa” is for apples, so we might make apple pies; “Dd” is for dogs, so we create our own stuffed, sock dogs.) All of the stories we read–fiction and non-fiction alike–are the subject of lively discussion, developing the children’s listening and comprehension skills. Block building, drawing, painting, modeling with clay, and manipulating toys provide enjoyable ways for class members to improve their fine-motor skills. In mathematics, we build number and counting skills and learn about sorting and patterns. The children measure objects and compare their sizes, graph the weather, and learn about place value in numbers as we keep track of the number of days we are at school with our “straw box.” We study topics in science and social studies and we participate in the Lower School’s year-long study theme, such as Native American or Maritime studies. Consistent throughout pre-k, the goal is to nurture each child’s desire to learn, teach them the routines and responsibilities of the beginning school world, and foster their ability to put new skills and knowledge into action.
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