Waterford Kindergarten Program is designed to nurture a diverse community of learners with well-developed social skills. The Kindergarten classroom is a rich and lively environment where the joy of learning is central to the experience of each child. Kindergarten teachers take great care to provide developmentally-appropriate materials for children so that all are challenged, actively involved, and become confident in their abilities as lifelong learners.
The Waterford’s full-day Kindergarten program allows teachers to implement a comprehensive, research-based curriculum while developing personal relationships with each of their students. Although some parents may worry that a full-day kindergarten program is too much for their children, research shows that full-day kindergarten not only boosts students’ academic achievement, it also strengthens their social and emotional skills. (Full-day Kindergarten Helps Close the Achievement Gaps, NEA)”
Kindergarten students start their day with their classmates and teacher in “Circle Time.” Students might discuss the day’s events, weather, or listen to special student presentation. Teachers begin each day in this way to establish a community of learning and provide students with a sense of structure and sequence. Research has shown that predictable daily events, such as arrival, departure, meals, and rest, “help kindergartners develop independence, responsibility, and a sense of order (Teaching and Learning in the Kindergarten Year, NAEYC, 2006).”
Kindergarten students spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week, in structured Journal Writing. By journaling every day, students learn to communicate their thoughts and ideas while developing crucial literacy skills. Waterford students build their vocabularies and expand their creative and critical thinking capacities as they respond to teacher-directed prompts and exercises. Teachers use journaling time to assess student Kindergarten teachers worker individually with students during journal time to assess writing abilities and identify students in need of a more supportive or challenging writing curriculum.
Specialized instruction in dance, Physical Education, library studies, art, science, and music is core to the Waterford Kindergarten program. These subjects are taught by experienced Lower School specialists who are experts and practitioners in their fields of study.Students meet with Waterford’s science, art, dance, P.E., music, computer, and library specialists each week.
Dance and P.E. classes develop children’s locomotor and social skills, build self-confidence, and foster an appreciation for physical activity (GreatSchools).
In music, students are introduced to formal music instruction using the piano lab, Orff instruments, sight reading, and vocal games and activities.
Students gather each day to study their surroundings of home, neighborhood, school, and community. “Today’s News” is a precursor to future elementary history classes. Before broadening their scope of study to include other people, places, and events, students learn to value the unique differences in each other. Children celebrate diversity in their classroom and share personal stories and experiences. Time is also dedicated to studying special events in history, notable Americans, and American holidays.
Visit the Waterford curriculum page to learn more about the Kindergarten specialist curriculum.
Unstructured play is an important element of the Waterford Kindergarten curriculum. Two, 15 minute recess blocks are built into the daily schedule. Additionally, students enjoy a longer recess during their lunch break. These blocks are scheduled between academic subjects to give students needed breaks and help them focus throughout the day.
Research shows that the benefits of recess are not only physical; recess is positively associated with social-emotional and cognitive development, improved classroom behavior, and cognitive and academic achievement (The Benefits of Recess in Primary School).
Children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges. They tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task. It’s not enough to just switch from math to English. You actually have to take a break.
The Waterford Kindergarten Literacy program is designed to help children realize that they are readers and writers. During reading time, students meet with a reading specialist in small groups as well as participate in independent reading activities. Waterford reading instruction is literature-based with a strong emphasis on phonics and phonemic awareness.
Multiple studies have shown that Kindergarten measures of phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge are good predictors of reading achievement in the primary grades (Kindergarten Prediction of Reading Skills: A Longitudinal Comparative Analysis).
Research has also demonstrated that future reading difficulties can be prevented with early intervention in Kindergarten. Waterford teachers and reading specialists work closely with the Lower School Head and the Reading Program Director to provide students with individualized (1:1), direct and explicit tutoring from highly-trained reading tutors as needed.
Kindergarten students spend 40 minutes each week with a library specialist in the Lower School library. Children are introduced to prominent authors of children’s literature and encouraged to take books of interest home to read with their families.
Kindergarten students eat lunch in the Lower School Dining Hall. The Dining Hall offers a variety of healthy dining options for students who choose to purchase. Lunch is a social time for students to interact with classmates and develop interpersonal skills.
One of the favorite Waterford Kindergarten traditions is Books & Bears. Every Kindergarten student receives a teddy bear at the beginning of the school year. These teddy bears accompany students to reading and rest times and serve as a source of inspiration for many classroom activities. Other favorite Kindergarten traditions include the butterfly project, Time Machine days, Critter Corner, and more.
Waterford Institute’s award-winning early learning software will take the student through a personalized reading, math, and science curriculum. Research shows that, when used appropriately, technology can play a valuable role in supporting and extending the benefits of traditional classroom instruction (Technology and YoungChildren, NAEYC). Well-designed early learning software engages children through fun and interactive activities that promote creative play, mastery learning, and problem-solving.
Waterford Kindergarten students benefit from spending time weekly in the computer and iPad labs with a technology specialist. The Waterford Institute’s software also provides teachers with a real-time assessment tool to monitor student progress.
Students also meet with art and science specialists each week. Longer class periods give specialists the time to engage students in hands-on art projects and science experiments.
Waterford’s experiential approach to science instruction utilizes labs and experiments to ignite each student’s love of the natural world. In art, students exercise their creativity through a variety of media. Students begin to experiment with line, space, form, value, and color.
Students break for another recess block before heading to math. Waterford provides it’s Kindergarten students access to an expansive outdoor classroom fully equipped with playing fields, age-appropriate playground equipment, and stunning views to the Wasatch mountains.
Teaching children to think, read, speak and write mathematically is the focus of the Waterford Kindergarten math curriculum. The pillars of Waterford’s math instruction are Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics (Singapore Math) and Investigations in Number, Data and Space (Pearson Education, Inc.).
Waterford’s comprehensive, activity-based approach guides young learners in building a strong conceptual foundation, skills based on that foundation, and a rich mathematical vocabulary. Hands-on tasks, meaningful activities, and thoughtful discussions engage students in developing mathematical understanding and insights each day.
Students explore rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, computational fluency with whole numbers, reasoning, and early algebra, and the connections among these important areas of mathematics. Students build upon their existing mathematical ideas as they learn new concepts. This clear, focused, and coherent curriculum invites all learners into the exciting world of mathematics.
The Waterford Kindergarten program continues at home. Waterford parents are active participants in their child’s education. Each evening, students will practice the skills learned in the classroom at home in the form of purposeful and well-crafted homework, lasting 10 minutes per evening. Parents and teachers are partners in the learning process; teachers are in constant communication with parents and send home detailed progress reports twice per year, supplemented by three parent-teacher conferences held in the middle of each term.
Waterford’s Kindergarten program provides the base for a successful academic journey through Waterford’s vertical curriculum (PreK-12). Waterford Kindergarten students enter the first grade prepared to excel and tackle new challenges.
Schedule a campus visit to see classes in action, meet our talented teachers, and learn more about the Waterford Kindergarten curriculum.