Classical Education for the Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten Stage
Intermediary Stage (roughly four through six year olds) Motto: “Our language and our play are our wisdom”
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten are the years that continue the laying up of the child’s classical education foundation, begun in the Early Stage.
Intermediary Stage Content: classical stories, beautifully and artfully illustrated; poetry and rhymes; church hymns and prayers; age-oriented classical art; traditional games and plays; lives of the children saints and of all saints; legends of virtue; role play; maps, along with traveling, history and geography stories.
Intermediary Stage Method: language and hands-on play; dialogue; memorization; mimicking the master.
Intermediary Stage Goal: Within the larger goal of acquiring a life-long self-learning ability and independent thinking, this stage focuses on the following three goal subsets:
Intermediary Stage Virtues: love, obedience, honesty, kindness, beginning of responsibility, patience, diligence.
At this stage, our teachers seek to harmoniously integrate reading, handwriting, and math with the exploration of history, geography, science, nutrition, physical education, fine arts, music, and foreign languages (Greek and Spanish).
What our days look like in the PK/K class (please keep in mind the above described, age-appropriate, method):
A classical curriculum for reading is phonics-based. We embrace the systematic synthetic phonics instruction. This method starts by teaching young children all the possible sounds made by the consonants and vowels, and building a phonemic awareness. Then students’ progress to letter combinations like ch, th, and sh and vowel combinations like ea, ei, and ou. After this step, students are taught to blend the sounds to form recognizable words, and finally, are introduced to short words and sentences, with an increased complexity.
Handwriting / Building fine motor skills
A classical PK/K curriculum also includes handwriting practice. Students learn to hold a pencil correctly and form their letters carefully. Handwriting curriculum includes daily practice with manuscript (print) handwriting. By the end of the kindergarten year, students should be able to copy whole sentences with proper punctuation and capitalization. PK/Kindergarten students should also spend time coloring daily, as this develops the fine motor skills needed for writing. Students learn scissor safety, proper grip, as well as straight, curved, and zig-zag cutting. Students also learn to use a glue bottle, practicing how to squeeze bottles and use the correct amount of glue.
Classical education math curriculum teaches young students to connect mathematical concepts with the students’ everyday life. This means the focus at this age is on the importance of building the right vocabulary, and associating it with the right representation. It also means that all math concepts will be primarily taught using simple manipulatives, and in relation with the students’ daily surroundings, and only secondarily by using worksheets. Students learn to count, add, subtract, use the calendar, solve simple word problems, measure, use different tools, sort, assess, categorize using simple household or nature-found objects.
At this stage, there’s a writing component to our the math curriculum, aimed to teach students to write the numbers 1–20, signs, along with beginning geometry elements, and associate signs with concepts.
History and geography
Our approach focuses at this stage at building an emerging world and time awareness, by exposing students to our country’s main historical moments, and to the geography of the states.
Our classical approach is to teach children concepts (using a combination of inquiry and socratic approach), and then help them discover their applicability and truthfulness in their lives. We focus on simple concepts from botany, biology, geology, weather, with a touch of mechanics.
The PK/K stage is a stage where language meets play, connecting abstract to concrete; where the body is beginning to be trained for resilience and accuracy, where good habits are beginning to be formed by cultivation of virtues, following the saints, and preparing children for the amazing entrance into the adventure of the primary stage years.