Kindergarten Language Arts fosters a love of literature and supports children as they grow more confident as readers, writers, speakers and listeners. Our curriculum
is designed in a systematic and sequential way to develop the foundational skills essential for the child to become an independent reader. Starting in Kindergarten, we use a Balanced Reading Approach focusing on read-aloud, shared reading, word work, guided reading, shared writing, and writing workshop. The interactive read-aloud by the teacher exposes children to rich vocabulary, sophisticated sentence structure and an appreciation for engaging literature. During this time, Kindergarteners hear how a fluent and expressive reader sounds, and develop their phonological awareness skills by listening to books and poems read with rhymes and predictable patterns. Additionally, they develop listening and comprehension skills by listening to the teacher think out loud and connect to previous knowledge while reading aloud to the class. The read-aloud also provides opportunities for the students to continue to enhance their oral language skills as they share their own thoughts and predictions, and make connections to the books.
Shared reading provides the teacher and students the opportunity to read together chorally. In Kindergarten, the teacher first reads the text aloud to model pacing, fluency and inflection. On the second reading, the students add their voices. Examples of shared reading in Kindergarten occur daily through the collective reading of the morning meeting message and working poems. The teacher uses a pointer to model voice print match. Over the course of the year, the teacher hands the pointer over to a child during the second reading. Additionally, these mini lessons offer the teacher time to focus on the repetition and reinforcement of phonics rules, point out high-frequency sight words, and model reading for meaning and information.
During our small skills-based groups, Kindergarteners engage in word work and guided reading. Word work lessons focus on developing phonemic awareness skills—specifically, identifying rhymes and syllables, and blending and segmenting sounds in words. Additionally, children are explicitly taught the relationship between sounds and letters, and are introduced to high-frequency words through interactive games. Guided reading helps Kindergarteners develop their phonics skills by providing instruction and repeated practice in reading books at their independent level. Children also increase their reading accuracy and fluency, and develop their reading comprehension strategies by focusing on beginning story elements during their guided reading groups. Each child’s reading progress is carefully monitored both informally and formally through bench-mark assessments throughout the year.
In the print-rich environment of our classrooms, opportunities for writing abound. Self-expression through writing is nurtured and encouraged as all students learn to use writing as an effective and creative form of communication. Teachers use shared writing to model an experienced writer’s thought process. During writing workshop, teachers focus on developing skills such as left to right orientation, capital and lowercase letters, spacing between words, and ending punctuation. Children use their developing phonics skills to identify beginning and ending sounds in words, and represent those sounds in their independent writing. Mini lessons also focus on the concepts of a story’s beginning, middle and end, adding details and using sentence starters to “hook” their readers.