Kindergarten is an important foundational year, a bridge from home and preschool to more formal schooling in the elementary grades. Our goals are to foster cooperative learning and to have each child form a solid, developmentally appropriate foundation in the areas of handwriting, math, reading, religion, science, and social studies while becoming a faith-filled learner.
We work to build a feeling of accomplishment, pride in quality work, and positive self-esteem in each child. The Kindergarten program is comprised of three classes with approximately 20 students in each class. In Kindergarten, students develop essential social and communication skills. Kindergartners participate in activities that help them strengthen their abilities to interact with one another appropriately in a classroom setting. Each class is a faith-centered community that strives to strengthen a student's mind, body and heart.
We recognize the importance of building a strong foundation in math. At St. Joseph School this begins in kindergarten. Using the Common Core State Standards, teachers have identified focus standards for grades kindergarten through grade 4 that are essential for building a strong math foundation for middle school and beyond.
The essential standards in kindergarten include:
At each grade level, the goal is to get students to mastery of the essential standards and to teach them to apply the math they learned to solve real world problems. In order to meet the needs of all students teachers differentiate instruction by using small groups. Math instruction includes direct instruction, hands on activities, manipulatives, and problem solving.
In Kindergarten, we focus on developing foundational reading and language skills in the following areas: concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, reading fluency and reading comprehension, as well as conventions of standard English and vocabulary acquisition and use.
In grades K-4, we have adopted the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program. This program is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards and provides students with daily opportunities to engage in interactive read-alouds and literature discussions, shared and performance reading, differentiated guided reading groups as well as sustained silent reading and writing about reading. The Fountas and Pinnell rich collection of fiction and nonfiction books reinforces key vocabulary, has diverse content and serves as an essential tool to build our students' language comprehension.
As we develop skills to comprehend literature and informational text, we engage in three ways of thinking about a text while reading. Thinking within the text involves efficiently and effectively understanding what's on the page, the author's literal message. Thinking beyond the text requires making inferences and putting text ideas together in different ways to construct the text's meaning. In thinking about the text, readers analyze and critique the author's craft.
Our classroom teachers work in close collaboration with our Learning Resource specialist and Advanced Learning specialist to ensure that all students receive the support they need to become skilled readers.
At St. Joseph School, our goal is to develop life-long readers who can decode with accuracy and read at an appropriate rate with suitable prosody that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read!
St. Joseph School follows the religion standards of the Archdiocese of Seattle. The standards are tied to the 6 tasks of Catechesis: 1) Knowledge of the Faith, 2) Liturgical Education, 3) Morality/Life in Christ, 4) Prayer, 5) Life, Community and History of the Church, and 6) the Church’s Missionary Life and Service.
Core religion concepts in kindergarten include; Creation, Jesus, and God’s Family. The essential questions include: Who does God love? Who is God? Who did God send? Who is our Family? How do we become part of God’s family? Service is a big part of each grade-level at St. Joseph School. As a Jesuit parish school we teach our students about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. We begin in kindergarten teaching what it means to be Open to Growth, Loving, Religious, Committed to Doing Justice, and Intellectually Competent.
Science in kindergarten focuses on life cycles. In particular, students study the life cycle of apples, pumpkins, salmon, and animals. Using the Next Generation Science Standards kit, kindergarteners study, observe and raise Bess Bugs in the classroom. In late spring, students release salmon that have been raised by the kindergarten and fourth graders into Issaquah Creek.
Kindergartners visit the Computer Lab once a week to learn basic computer proficiency, beginning with keyboard orientation and typing. Each student ends the school year with a basic understanding of computers and experience with a variety of programs.
For writing we use the Writer’s Workshop curriculum, created by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College. The program emphasizes process, choice and product. It invites students to see themselves as writers. Students study narrative, nonfiction, and opinion writing as well as focus on conventions, organization and the writing process.
Our phonics program helps students master short and long vowel sounds, consonants, blends, endings, digraphs and contractions. Our spelling focus is on the study of high frequency words and common spelling patterns. We also practice developing phonological skills, building words and creating effective word study strategies. In all areas, we consistently practice proper letter formation using the Zaner-Bloser.