Notre Dame Academy Elementary School Educating Today's Youth to be Tomorrow's Leaders

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Lower School TK-5 » TK Program

TK Program

Morning Meeting
The TK day begins with a meeting that brings the class community together. Students develop independence in developmentally appropriate ways by learning to care for their own personal belongings. They gather on the carpet together for group prayers and sharing. Students make calendar skills relevant by applying concepts of time to their personal lives and experiences. The class discusses upcoming family and community events.
Reading and Writing
As students develop their understanding of language throughout the year, there is an increased focus on foundational skills and early literacy. Students build familiarity with letters and sounds through chants, stories, and phonemic awareness activities. They learn about letter formation and handwriting through experiences with blocks, magnets, and different writing tools. Early in the year, students engage in shared writing experiences through drawing and dictation as they develop the language skills needed to become successful writers.
In TK, students build a strong foundation in concrete mathematical thinking based on experiences with numbers and counting, patterns, and shapes. Students explore, solve problems, and create meaning by using manipulatives like attribute blocks, tangram shapes, geo-boards, unifix cubes, beads, and counters. Students talk out their ideas in small groups, explaining their strategies and articulating their thinking.
Religion is regularly integrated into the school day through traditional and spontaneous prayer, class discussion, student interactions, and conflict resolution. TK students are encouraged to act as Catholic leaders in their families and class community by learning to make choices that reflect Gospel values. During Religion class, students learn about Bible stories and Catholic traditions through read­-alouds, arts and crafts, songs, and dramatizations.
Outdoor Play
TK students enjoy their morning snacks and lunches outdoors on the terrace. There is an emphasis on community building and outdoor play, both on the play structure and the yard. Outdoor play during recess and lunch is safe and supervised, yet unstructured and child­-directed, with ample opportunities for recreation, exploration, and cooperation.
Share Time
Sharing is an integral part of our TK day. Each week, students are invited to share a small object or keepsake from home. Both the presenters and the audience build their oral language skills by describing and asking questions about the objects being shared. TK students also become effective communicators through age­-appropriate public speaking opportunities, including leading the class as Star Student of the Week and participating in the school­wide Speech Contest.
TK Science standards are integrated into thematic units that appeal to children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. With a strong emphasis on sensory experiences, students observe and explore natural phenomena including light and shadow, plant and animal life cycles, weather and seasons, movement, and energy. Experiments and play­-based exploration are supplemented with literary and informational texts that are shared and discussed in collaborative conversations that allow students to make connections between life and learning.
Social Studies
The focus of Social Studies instruction in TK is to build a foundation for students to understand their place in time and space and as members of the various communities ­ family, school, and neighborhood. Through integrated units, students develop an age­appropriate sense of self and awareness of their own feelings and choices. Literary and informational texts are explored through the lenses of personal experiences and good citizenship.
Arts and crafts, as well as music, chants, dance, and fingerplays, are integrated into each thematic unit. Students make connections across the curriculum as they use their imaginations to explore each unit’s theme in creative ways. Art and Music are also taught as stand­alone subjects with specialist teachers from the Visual and Performing Arts department.
Music focuses on basic musicianship, including pitch and rhythm, singing, and listening. Music skills are built through discerning differences among all types of music. These building blocks will be carried throughout their music curriculum and life­long learning.
Visual Arts allows our youngest artists to explore a variety of different mediums while working towards mastery of color, line, shape, pattern, rhythm, balance, and emphasis in their own art. Students are given creative opportunities to experience historic and current art while observing these artistic elements and principles and developing personal preferences. TK will learn to share what is art, where it lives, and how to talk about it with others.
P .E.
TK students develop gross motor skills, balance, and coordination within a structured Physical Education program. With a goal of making fitness fun, the P.E. class focuses on the physical development and locomotor skills along with cooperation and acceptance through team play, games, and developmentally­ appropriate sports activities.
At the TK level, the Spanish program introduces vocabulary and basic conversational skills through stories, games and real-life situations. Students engage with the specialist teacher and one another in Spanish through songs, chants, and repetition in an age ­appropriate setting that is appropriate for learners at all levels of proficiency.
TK students engage with technology in strategic and age­-appropriate ways. Technology is integrated into the school day in all curricular areas through the use of projection carts that makes whole­-group learning exciting and accessible to all students. Students also have access to iPad minis which they use in small groups to practice targeted Language Arts and Math skills, learn songs and chants, and view primary sources in Science and Social Studies.
TK students engage in school­wide service learning opportunities, including Bake Sales and Buck-­a-­Stuff Days, which focus students’ attention on our class­-sponsored cause. TK families support an organization called New Life Beginnings which provides shelter and parenting, life skills, and job training programs for needy women with children.
Experiential Learning
In TK, students have the unique opportunity to develop both their socioemotional and academic skills in a supportive environment that nurtures the whole child. With a thoughtful balance of structure and play, children explore and build understanding through concrete experiences and guided practice. There are frequent opportunities for children to learn by doing. Whether reenacting the Mass, building models of cities and farms, observing how their shadows change throughout the day, or “subtracting” cookies from the cookie jar, students are active, engaged, and developing a love of learning.