At the very heart of the Kindergarten program is the development and growth of each student as a child of God in a loving community. St. John Bosco said, “Let the children experience the joy of their childhood.” And so, at Mary, Mother of God School we are always striving to create an atmosphere of love and joy, one where we can easily delight in each child as an individual, and in the whole group as a lively and loving Christian community.
Our Kindergarten program offers great flexibility for families. The required core of the program is in the mornings, but parents have the option of enrolling their children in afternoon enrichment programs on one or more days each week, providing the option of half-day up to full-day Kindergarten for those who desire it.
The morning program is structured to incorporate music and prayer, academics, hands-on learning experiences, and play time:
We begin our Kindergarten morning with music and prayer. Daily singing lifts the spirits and it is a beautiful way of praising God. The children learn some simple songs of praise (the songs of Taize for example), some of which are in English while others are in the universal language of the Church–Latin. Each day a different child distributes the rosaries to the class, and gathered around a statue of Our Lady, staff and students join in praying one decade of the Rosary. This is a time for the children to share prayer intentions, to pray for their families and the extended community, and to learn to entrust their cares and needs to God. On some days, the children will learn about the Saint of the Day, a virtue, a special liturgical season like Advent or Lent or about some other aspect of the Church’s Liturgical Calendar.
Children need physical activity to be healthy and happy and to develop co-ordination and gross motor skills. Fortunately, the Kindergarten class has use of the auditorium daily, which lends itself to a variety of activities, both structured and unstructured. On certain days the children will participate in co-operative games–do parachute activities, play running games and active circle games (e.g. dodge ball, duck duck goose, etc.), while on other days they will be allowed to choose their own activities (balls, skipping ropes, hula hoops all provided). This is a wonderful time for the children simply to have fun and enjoy their peers, and the physical activity sharpens their minds for the rest of the morning.
At this time the children have a snack, listen to some music, enjoy each other’s company, chat, socialize, and are taken for a washroom break.
A most beautiful program, Reading Buddies is designed so that older children and younger children can enjoy each other’s company while growing in their love of books and reading. During this time each Kindergarten child is paired up with an older “buddy” from the upper grades who reads books that have been selected by the younger buddy. This is a lovely time to relax and enjoy selections from our excellent library, and to create bonds between older and younger students.
In addition to the printing that goes on in all aspects of the Language Arts program, in the writing centre and at journal time, the children receive formal printing lessons. They are taught and helped to hold a pencil properly, to form letters correctly and to space them appropriately. This can take some time since many of the children are still developing fine motor skills. Usually we focus on one upper and lower case letter per lesson using the Canadian Handwriting series and other useful books which give the students practice in making circles, lines, and other shapes so that they may form letters with greater skill and ease.
During this time, the children in both J.K. and S.K. have an opportunity to illustrate something special in their journals–it could be based on the theme being studied, a story they have read in class or an event or topic of their own choice. During this time the teacher circulates, encouraging the students by writing sentences that the children themselves dictate to describe their pictures. Those students who would like to try writing for themselves are encouraged to sound out words or to use the available pictionaries. The children are given the opportunity on certain days to share their pictures and ideas orally with their teachers and classmates.
This time is used to discuss some aspect of the theme of the week. Thematic units are integrated into various aspects of the curriculum and weekly activities to instruct the students about a particular topic (e.g. Thanksgiving, the Autumn, animals, etc.) The theme may be the subject of a story, science experiment, poem, art or other special activity. This period is also used to introduce the students to some of the new activities they can choose from at the various classroom learning centres.
In this period, the students engage as a group in a little French lesson or a creative art. The children may learn a new poem, a nursery rhyme, or song. They might act out or mime a short story or play, or they may learn a dance, perform a finger play or play a rhythmic instrument. This is a fun time for self-expression and developing confidence while enjoying the Arts. It is some happy “together time” before the children are dismissed for the day.
The students gather for a short Bible or saint’s story, a lesson in a virtue, or a discussion on the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. Whenever possible we use an interactive approach to storytelling, with a felt board, figurines or other visual aids. We dramatize stories, do mimes, songs, and puppet shows which inspire the children to see, discover, and experience the beauty of their Faith.
The morning program ends with a prayer, and those students who will not be staying for the afternoon are taken to the door to meet up with their parents.
On Fridays from 9:20 to 10:05 the children engage in a very special activity which is usually related to the theme of the week. It could be a craft, an art activity, a special guest, cooking, a walk, or other very special activity.