Pine Street School’s Junior Kindergarten program is designed to prepare our 4-year-olds for the dynamic, collaborative experience of our play-based and inquiry-based IB/PYP (International Baccalaureate / Primary Years Program).
Our teachers, all of whom are native speakers of the target language as well as English-proficient, are strategic facilitators who collaborate with and empower our young students to question and problem solve, to take action and reflect.
As they move upstairs to the Elementary School floor, Junior Kindergarteners learn to adapt to new schedules, with more frequent art, music, technology and physical education classes.
Junior Kindergarten maintains the warm, nurturing approach of Preschool while preparing students for the challenges of our Elementary School academic program.
They continue to use Montessori materials, but dedicate more time to teacher-facilitated group activities, developing inquiry with their peers and practicing sharing and listening in more sophisticated contexts.
The Junior Kindergarten phase is an important one, as the brain makes huge advances, and both intellectualand social skills accelerate and mature. The teachers in this program are prepared to capitalize on this uniquely powerful moment with individualized instruction that challenges every student and invites the fullest possible expression of interest and talent.
Our 4-year-olds are ready to engage in more advanced exploration of the surrounding community as part of our School Without Walls approach to learning. Field trips and other educational outings become more frequent, and students begin to learn how to use the vast, rich resources of the city as a curriculum tool.
Junior Kindergartners enjoy mentorship by the Kindergarten and Upper Elementary students who work in close proximity on the Third Floor with daily interactions and exposure. It is an exciting community of growth and exploration, with inspiration all around and constant invitations to develop new skills and friendships.
The Junior Kindergarten Curriculum
Students regularly engage in regular reflection on their work. They actively participate in the three annual conferences: parent-teacher, parent-teacher-student, and student-led. They are confident sharing what they have learned and discussing openly the challenges and growth they are experiencing. All of this information is reflected in the student report cards.
Students engage in a rich array of language experiences that develop reading and writing readiness. All aspects of speaking, listening, reading, and writing receive emphasis. Teachers use pre-reading and writing tools: including a vast library of children’s literature in the form of books and electronic resources to develop a love of reading, comprehension skills, and creativity. Structured and unstructured activities develop observation and listening skills, labeling and defining skills, and fine motor and gross motor skills.
A variety of materials are used to develop mathematical thinking, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and a keen sense of numeracy. Number and geometric patterning activities such as graphing, charting, and games, and collections reinforce number skills. They develop problem-solving abilities by engaging in real life mathematical situations such as counting, sharing, sorting, and classifying objects in the classroom.
Junior Kindergarten students learn about the concept of community, become contributing members of a diverse classroom, and develop a respect for our natural environment. Students focus on themselves, their families, the school community, and places they have visited.
Drama is a natural extension of the way Junior Kindergarten students explore their world. Formal drama activities include improvisation, sensory games, and collaborative play. Drama is employed in the library to further explore a story they have read. The classroom features a dramatic play area. The students prepare and perform an informal presentation of their work for their teachers and partners.
Awareness and appreciation of science are developed through a focus on hands-on investigations. Students observe, predict, sequence, analyze, and apply knowledge they have learned. Units such as dinosaurs, the five senses, magnets, seasons, and the holidays are integrated with language arts, social studies, and mathematics.
Mandarin Chinese or Spanish
Dual Language instruction in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish in Junior Kindergarten build on language and cultural fluency. Students hear language in songs, stories, and instructions, and they start to understand what it means. They speak the languages more frequently as they areat an age when they can hear and mimic accents more accurately. Material is presented through games, songs, stories, and kinesthetic activities.
Art is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. Clay, paint, dye, collage, and more allow children to explore and develop a love of artistic expression.
Students develop an appreciation of music and expand their imaginative and creative responses to music. Emphasis is placed on singing and vocal exploration. Musical concepts such as high/low, fast/slow, and loud/soft are introduced and mastered through listening, singing, and playing. Simple notation is introduced.
Fundamental skills (e.g., traveling, jumping and landing, throwing and catching, balancing) and basic movement concepts (spatial awareness, effort, andrelationships) form the basis of the curriculum. Games are for enjoyment while allowing for the exploration of various skills including movement, listening, and sequencing of directions. Social skills such as sharing, courtesy, sportsmanship, and honesty are also stressed. Students use the climbing wall and engage in activities that reinforce movement awareness concepts and skills.
Now on the Third Floor, Junior Kindergarten students are able to take advantage of the Pine Street School Design Lab, beginning an exploration of technology and its connections to creative processes. Early exposure to coding, robotics, circuitry and uses for tablets begins at this age.
Social Emotional Development
Children grow in confidence and self-awareness as they develop the ability to work productively on their own and as members of a group. Classroom routines, activities, and expectations are designed to help children grow in their understanding of, and appreciation for, the diverse backgrounds, interests, and talents of others. Our goal is to have the children in Junior Kindergarten feel confident within their community to have them build a cohesive classroom community.
Parents and caregivers are invited to participate in the Junior Kindergarten curriculum by joining in field trips, sharing family and cultural traditions, and attending special class activities.