What's so important about Kindergarten?
Isn't it just learning the ABC's and counting to 10? At Westminster, it's so much more than that. Westminster's Kindergarten program offers children a remarkable adventure in learning, fun, friendship, and personal development. Within a warm, nurturing environment, students are encouraged and taught how to exercise independence, responsibility, respect, and kindness, as well as the knowledge, skills, and attitudes fundamental to their delight in learning--today and always. Firmly grounded in the school's overall mission and philosophy, the Kindergarten program provides a carefully planned, consistent approach to all aspects of the child's intellectual, emotional, and social development.
The school day is from 8:10 a.m. until 3:10 p.m. Kindergarten students enjoy a lively variety of academic and enrichment activities each day. The early-year daily schedule also includes quiet time, allowing our youngest students a peaceful rest or nap during the day. In addition to lunch period, Kindergarteners also enjoy a snack time in the afternoon.
Small Classes (student/teacher ratio = 10:1)
There are two homeroom classes, with a maximum of 16 students in each class. In classes with more than 10 students, there is also an aide. Kindergarten students have the security of their own homeroom teacher and classroom. However, since each kindergarten homeroom teacher is a curriculum specialist, the students also benefit from instruction from both teachers.
All students wear an attractive school uniform, which includes a variety of pieces which can be mixed and matched, plus a blazer and tie for special events, assemblies, and field trips.
High-quality, in-depth curricula are in place for all subjects, including reading/ language arts, math, science, social studies, French, art, music, and P.E. With Westminster’s learning-friendly environment and teacher specialists, Kindergarteners are exposed to a greater breadth and depth of knowledge, and progress at a faster pace than their peers in public and other private schools. The academic program includes enrichment for advanced students and remediation for students who need extra support.
Phonics-Based Reading Program
Westminster’s highly effective reading program provides Kindergarteners with strong linguistic and “decoding” skills, allowing them to read at an impressive level before the end of the academic year. Even for those children who are already reading, Westminster’s program strengthens understanding of the structure of language, ensuring their continued progress as they encounter more difficult material.
Advanced Math and Science
The mathematics curriculum anchors abstract concepts to the “real world” via sight, hearing, speech, and touch. The program stresses thinking skills, problem solving strategies, mental arithmetic, estimation, measurement, time, and money concepts. Children learn to solve math equations using manipulatives, rods, number lines, and memory. The science curriculum introduces students to the processes of observation and systematic analysis of the natural world. Through discussion, class work, and many hands-on activities, the students are guided to discover, explore, question, and reflect on different aspects of their everyday surroundings.
Music and Art Classes (two times a week)
Kindergarten music classes provide a pleasurable environment in which students learn the basic elements of music literacy. The students enjoy activities that emphasize listening, rhythm, percussion, choral speech, and group singing. All kindergarten students perform in music programs twice yearly.
In Westminster’s large, naturally lit art studio, kindergarten students are guided through a variety of projects which introduce basic art processes, skills, and media. Projects are based on the child’s current life experiences or imaginative play life, and often relate to topics under study in the academic classroom. Throughout the year, each student produces a portfolio of work, and all students have a work included in the annual school-wide art contest.
French Class (three times a week)
In Kindergarten, students are introduced to the French language and culture through regular interaction with a French-speaking teacher who visits their classroom. Through the use of simple conversation, songs, games, and holiday-related activities, children begin to acquire a basic vocabulary and correct pronunciation, and experience language learning as enjoyable.
Daily P.E. and Recess
In addition to daily, outdoor play breaks, Kindergarten students enjoy daily P.E. classes in the gym or on the athletic field. Organized activities and games develop general fitness and conditioning, coordination, movement and dance skills, manipulative activities, and game skills. Classes also emphasize age-appropriate health awareness as well as social skills.
As part of Westminster’s Drama Program, the Kindergarten students present a play near the end of the school year. Each child has a speaking part, and most productions include group singing. Participation in this important class project develops self-confidence and poise, group cooperation, and provides an opportunity to be recognized and celebrated by the entire school community.
Several Field Trips
Organized and chaperoned by their homeroom and/or enrichment teachers, Kindergarten students enjoy a number of field trips throughout the year. Field trips are chosen to highlight aspects of the academic program, as well as French, music, and art classes, and may include outdoor venues, museums, historic sites, performances, etc. All field trips are by Westminster School bus.
Extra Help and Special Activities
During the final period of the day, known as Flex Period, Kindergarten teachers conduct extra help sessions for students who could benefit from extra instruction or individual attention. These one-on-one or small group sessions nurture academic understanding and confidence as well as appropriate developmental and social/emotional growth. Flex Period also provides opportunities for the Kindergarten students to mix with students and teachers from 1st and 2nd grades in enriching activities designed by the lower-school teachers.
Throughout the school year, a variety of after-school Enrichment Classes are offered to students in all grades. Over a trimester period- fall, winter and spring, students in grades K-4 have the opportunity to participate in soccer, basketball, ballet, jazz, and hip-hop dance, guitar, piano, S.T.E.M. supported LEGO robotics and engineering, art lessons, and more. Qualified and professional outside vendors (who meet state-regulated back-ground check requirements) as well as classroom teachers provide specialized group or individual classes.