Step One’s Transitional Kindergarten program, established in 1984, was created for those children who seemed perhaps academically ready for kindergarten but not yet developmentally ready. It is a more structured environment than the nursery school classrooms, yet still provides a non-stressful, enriched experience where children expand the tools they have into ones they will need for elementary school and for lifelong learning.
Children participating in the Transitional K program should turn 5 years old on or before January 31st of the school year and must have at least one year of prior preschool experience before entering our program. Children graduating from the Transitional Kindergarten program move on to other kindergartens or to first grade, depending on their age and developmental needs.
The following areas are stressed in our curriculum:
- Language Arts – Reading, Hands-On Phonological Exercises, Creative Writing, Book Creation, Drawing, Writing:
Our goal in the area of language arts is to encourage a love for the written word, as well as to begin to demystify the decoding process of reading. Research clearly shows that the best predictor of a good reader is being read to often. The kindergarten day and week is structured to include reading, hands-on phonological exercises, creative writing experiences, book creation, and practice in drawing and writing.
- Math – Reasoning, Shapes, Measurement, Patterns, Ordinality, Enumeration: Math in the Transitional K program is approached in a way that is consistent with how young children think and learn. Plenty of opportunity for hands-on experimentation and discovery is encouraged. Exploration of all aspects of math – reasoning, shapes, measurement, patterns, ordinality, and enumeration – is encouraged.
- Science – Tactile experiences, Beginning Engineering, Biology: Our science curriculum focuses largely in the natural science area. We strive to increase children’s powers of observation by using sensory cues and their curious thinking in order to understand and appreciate the immediate world. Our large outside area is filled with different tactile experiences using water, sand, and dirt, as well as two waterfalls perfect for dam building and water engineering.
- Emotional and Social – Building an emotional vocabulary, group activities, conflict resolution: The emotional component of our program fits hand-in-glove with the child’s social development. We provide our children with an emotional vocabulary to help them process the natural challenges and joys of participating in a learning community. We believe in having lots of fun throughout our day – learning can and should be joyful! Time and attention are given to empowering children to set healthy boundaries and develop a repertoire of ways to play and work together with their peers. Our “Child of the Week” ritual in Transitional K helps children to appreciate our differences and similarities as individuals and families.
Most of our activities encompass aspects of all these curriculum areas. Organic gardening and weekly cooking projects are two of the children’s favorite science and math activities. Each school year, the Transitional Kindergarten children experience twice the full life cycle of the garden. They create signs for the garden, and monitor the growth of their crops. Growing and cooking with foods that they have helped grow helps to instill the value of healthful eating and broadens their taste for different foods.
Step One’s Transitional Kindergarten benefits from active parent participation. We work to maintain good communication between home and school so we can work together to help each child. Parents play a vital role in our program and volunteer for a number of support tasks in the classroom. Parents are welcome to participate in the classroom according to talents, time, and desire. We have a weekly sign-up for activities between 9:30 and 10:30 each day.
There is daily to weekly communication between teachers and parents. Twice during the year (Fall and Spring) parents meet with one of the Kindergarten teachers to discuss their child’s school experience and how we can work together to make that experience optimal. At other times parents may request a phone call or a meeting to discuss concerns that may arise about their child’s progress.
We also provide written information for parents who are exploring school options for the years following Step One. We make available a list of Step One alumni attending all the different public and private schools in the area; these families are willing to talk to current Step One families about their school experience.