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The structure of the Pre-Kindergarten day offers students gentle guidance in developing their relationships with others. Children develop self-confidence and independence as they separate from their caregivers. Each morning, students initiate social play through learning and work centers where children select what and with whom they will play. Their interactions with adults and peers grow positively as they learn to modulate their words to communicate wants, needs or ideas. During the year, children learn to recognize themselves as part of a group. Pre-Kindergarteners follow well-established class routines and learn the boundaries of classroom life. They internalize school rules, learn to play safely, share, compromise with others, develop leadership skills and enjoy independence within a supportive classroom and school environment.
Students build upon their introduction to Jewish themes and topics. They continue to study the Jewish holidays as they punctuate the school year. Jewish stories and songs infuse the year with an implicit ethical basis for discussion. Children are exposed to the Hebrew language and gather each week to celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat.
Throughout the day children develop and strengthen language and literacy skills through a variety of activities whose primary goal is to establish a solid foundation for reading and writing skills. Language and literacy skills are incorporated in all activities and the nature of school itself provides a rich environment in which students continuously expand their abilities.
During story time, students use their listening skills and engage in classroom discussions that encourage them to reason and express their thoughts and feelings. Children formulate stories from their drawings and the teachers then record those stories in writing. This effort provides a sense of the power of the written word and the experience of communicating in writing. Over time, children develop an understanding of letters and sounds and how sounds map onto written words. Communication skills also grow during interactive play as students initiate and maintain conversations with peers and adults, while simultaneously learning to verbalize their wants and needs.
During weekly visits, Pre-Kindergarten children forge strong connections. With guidance, students find books of individual interest to bring home. Read-aloud stories are drawn from a variety of authors and illustrators with themes closely tied to the concerns of four- and five-year-olds. Along the way, students are introduced to the basics of books themselves, their care and the valuable role they play in children’s lives.
In Pre-Kindergarten, math exploration is a large part of work and play. Students encounter basic concepts, such as color, shape and size, through the use of manipulatives. Daily tasks, such as calendar, attendance and snack time, introduce counting, sorting and patterning. Calling children to activities based on attributes (shoe type, hair color, month of birth) offers a personal way of experiencing the mathematical concepts of classifying and sorting. Cooking experiences expose students to measurement, quantity and sequencing. Experience charts, graphs and other visual comparisons allow students to infer quantity and to compare amounts.
Teachers offer many opportunities to practice and develop gross and fine motor skills. Children have an informal, supervised physical play period each day as well as formal physical education instruction during the week. They develop and refine gross motor skills through the loco motor movements of climbing, running, jumping, galloping and balancing. In the classroom, children continue to practice and hone their fine motor skills through painting, drawing, finger painting, coloring, paper tearing, cutting and folding. Working with manipulatives (pegboards, Tinkertoys, Lego blocks) develops the small muscles later needed for handwriting. Daily experiences offer opportunities to use small muscle coordination in activities, such as zipping, buttoning, tying and pouring.
Teachers introduce children to the scientific method through hands-on exploration. Children then apply their five senses as tools for scientific discovery and report their observations of experiments to the teacher and the class. Through the study of physical, earth and life sciences, students form questions, predict outcomes and draw conclusions.
Using an integrated approach, children learn to navigate their world and identify all that is special about themselves. They examine our school, the seasons, their family and themselves while building both social and pre-academic skills which are heavily based upon Reform Jewish values.
Located in New York City, Rodeph Sholom School is a coeducational nursery through eighth grade Reform Jewish independent school.
10 West 84th Street and 168 West 79th Street · New York, NY 10024