Early Childhood Program: Kindergarten 1 & 2

In Kindergarten, we believe learning through playful inquiry is the foundation for intellectual, physical, and social and emotional growth. Learning should derive naturally from curiosity and exploration.

The classroom environment is designed for children to learn through play because research shows that playing is the way in which children engage their minds, organize their thoughts and store information using all their senses. Children are given a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts to provoke, stimulate and support their innate intellectual dispositions—their natural inclinations.

The program is inspired by the Project Approach and the schools in Reggio Emilia, where children and adults reflect regularly on their playful inquiry as a way to deepen everyone’s understanding, and where children are seen as competent and able to construct and engage in their own learning with teachers as collaborators and guides. We foster a culture of inquiry by finding out what is already known and wondering together to create a community of shared meanings. Some projects we have pursued are: construction, transportation, clocks, maps and teeth. Children learn how to think deeply, to ask questions and to listen to ideas. They may go on field trips, invite expert visitors, construct models, and conduct surveys to support their learning.

Language arts

Nurturing enjoyment of and self-confidence in reading and writing is the essence of the early childhood language arts program. The program:

  • Integrates reading, writing, listening and speaking across the curriculum.
  • Offers a unique, in-class phonological awareness program led by the class teachers and supported by the speech/language therapist to help students understand the sound sequences within words and the broader units of sound in our language (syllables, words, rhymes.) The Wilson Fundations program is used extensively to introduce the children to sound/symbol associations and to correct letter formation.
Expressive and receptive language

The development of language skills forms the basis for the pre-primary program. We use an approach in which children are given opportunities to extend and enrich both their expressive and receptive language skills. Language enrichment activities focus on vocabulary, rhyming, auditory processing, memory tasks and sequence.

In Kindergarten 1 and 2, children:

  • Work in large and small groups
  • Are involved in activities that include discussion, questioning, categorizing and comparing
  • Learn to recount events in sequential order
  • are encouraged to use their own words to describe their recollections
  • Practice remembering multiple-step directions
  • Learn to give clear directions
  • Commit small passages to memory
  • Use language to learn to think logically and creatively

In the Kindergarten 1 program, many opportunities are provided for children to develop beginning reading skills. Throughout their day, children read along while teachers model with literature and big books, they read the schedule, the morning message, words to songs and poems, and environmental print in the classroom. The Kindergarten 2 program moves toward independent reading of simple, predictable texts. By January, teachers conduct regular guided reading groups with children using leveled text appropriate to their reading development. The children learn how to apply their growing knowledge of phonics and how to ask and answer questions about the texts. Use of classroom libraries and frequent trips to the Lower School Library are essential to the program.

In Kindergarten 1 and 2, children:

  • Listen to stories and non-fiction texts read aloud to them
  • Develop a sight vocabulary
  • Learn to apply beginning decoding strategies through the association of sounds and words
  • Are encouraged to read words, stories and books, depending on their own abilities
  • Discuss stories read to them to facilitate comprehension and retention of details

We use the Writer's Workshop approach to help children learn to express themselves freely and fully without being encumbered by their inexperience with reading and writing. Children are encouraged to start by drawing pictures and dictating their words to an adult. By the end of K1, children are able to match many letters to sounds in their writing. In K2, as their skills increase, children study different genres and begin to use conventional spelling for some high frequency words. Eventually, they are able to write short books, lists, poems and facts about a topic.

In Kindergarten 1, children:

  • Create non-representational art and dictate their thoughts to an adult
  • Are guided through the phases of role-playing and experimental writing, laying the foundation for early writing
  • Use invented spelling to create stories
  • Begin to learn correct letter formation of capitals and lower case letters

In Kindergarten 2, children:

  • Write about their own experiences
  • Learn the phonetic sounds of letters taught in context to enable independent writing
  • Write stories, both individually and in groups
  • Work to develop correct handwriting skills and some conventional spellings
  • Use writing to develop thinking and language expression.
  • Gradually learn to use upper and lower case letters appropriately


Math in the Early Childhood Program is experientially based. Children develop an understanding of basic math concepts through manipulating, counting and sorting objects, and by using manipulatives, such as geoboards, pattern blocks and dice. Children apply mathematical concepts to their world by collecting data and making graphs, learning about the calendar and exploring patterns all around them. Games and hands-on activities are incorporated to reinforce concepts.

Among the skills taught in Kindergarten 1, children learn:

Counting and cardinality

Counts by rote to 20 
Recognizes numbers 0 to 10 
Counts to tell the number of objects to 20
Counts objects using 1-to-1 correspondence up to 20


Identifies 2-D shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle
Describes objects in the environment using names of shapes
Analyzes, compares and sorts objects

Operations and algebraic thinking

Understands addition as adding to
Understands subtraction as taking away from
Recognizes and duplicates patterns 
Creates patterns

Measurement and data

Describes and compares measurable attributes
Sorts objects and counts the number of objects in each category

Among the skills taught in Kindergarten 2, children learn:

Counting and cardinality

Counts by rote to 50 
Counts objects using 1-to-1 correspondence up to 15 
Counts forward from a given number up to 50 
Writes and illustrates numbers to 10
Compares groups of objects to determine more, less and equal (1-10)

Operations and algebraic thinking

Represents number stories with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, and acting out situations
Generates and continues patterns 
Identifies patterning rule and extends patterns

Measurement and data

Individually collects and sorts data using objects and pictures
Identifies and sorts objects by attributes
Describes and compares length and weight


Identifies and describes 2-D shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle, hexagon
Analyzes and compares 2-D shapes using different attributes

Social studies

Social studies are interwoven into the everyday life of the class. As children investigate ideas related to themselves, their peers, families and communities, they begin to develop an understanding of how the world works. Project work becomes a particularly important part of social studies. Through their daily interaction and their in-depth project studies, they learn how to negotiate and collaborate, to ask questions and wonder, to listen to differing points of view, and to treat each other with respect and empathy. The international environment of ASL provides rich opportunities for children to learn about other culture and traditions.


“Children are full of theories if we ask them and wonder with them. It is the search and the questions that are the most important part of life.”
—Carla Rinaldi

Young children are natural scientists and love to wonder and search together. Exploring the wonders of the world, discovering, experimenting and hypothesizing are intrinsic to childhood and form the basis of the Early Childhood science program. Teachers provide open-ended questions that stimulate children’s thinking and provoke discussion. In Kindergarten 1 and 2, children are encouraged to explore materials; learn to use simple, scientific tools; ask open-ended questions; and conduct experiments.

Creative arts

“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colors.”
—Loris Malaguzzi

Following the philosophy of Reggio Emilia, the children work with the creative arts teacher several times a week, exploring music, movement, drama and art. They are recognized as competent and creative explorers and the importance of the learning process rather than the final product is emphasized. Involvement in the expressive arts allows the children to revisit subjects of interest over and over again through many different media to gain multiple perspectives and a higher level of understanding. Children are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and initiate their own investigations using a wide variety of materials and techniques. Spanish vocabulary for colors, numbers, greetings and the body are incorporated into creative arts through music and movement.


Children in K1 and K2 have access to a small number of iPads that are shared among classrooms. The iPads are introduced to children in the fall of the school year. Basics about caring for the iPads and sharing them with classmates are discussed with children.  

They may use apps in learning centers to focus on particular skills, sometimes related to phonics or math. In addition, they take photos and narrate these to reflect on learning or comment on something about the school day. These photos and small projects are shared among the children, with parents, and occasionally posted on class web pages.

Physical education

An early childhood PE specialist provides regular lessons, focusing on movement, body awareness, and cooperation.


Children in K1 and K2 are encouraged to become regular independent library users. They are welcome to visit the library daily to return books and make new selections. In addition, they attend a weekly scheduled library lesson with the librarian that focuses on read-alouds, learning to negotiate the LS Library, and how to choose books independently.

K1 curriculum guides

K2 curriculum guides