This year, we plan to highlight each of our early childhood classes and grades in our weekly school newsletter -- a chance for parents and our broader community to glimpse inside each classroom. First up, kindergarten!
Sometimes cozy and calm, sometimes rough and tumble, kindergarten at Madrona School is all about learning to love coming to school, with regular and predictable rhythms, connections with teacher, and all the social and emotional learning that happens with play in a classroom full of friends. Our two classes, taught by veteran early childhood teachers, share space both at Madrona School in the Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, and our Lowery Farm property in Rolling Bay. Friday adventure kindergarteners visit parks and beaches around the island. The school year is off to a sweet start, and with mixed-age classrooms, we welcome returning and new students each fall and slip quickly into a familiar daily and weekly rhythm. Let's take a look:
The morning begins outdoors even on days when the class is not up at Lowery Farm, and when the children arrive, they need to prepare for the day. The children look to see how Sally Sunshine dressed for the morning's weather...Does Sally have rainboots on? Then we will put ours on too!
Opportunity for play is at the core of what we offer in kindergarten -- a chance for imaginations and bodies to grow and develop. Play lays a foundation for executive functioning and creative, flexible thinking. The kindergarten play is varied and vigorous and ever changing. In free lay, some children watch for a bit, some ask a teacher to turn a jump rope or get out the whittling knives, while others are off and planning games that can go on for many days. In one recent game, pine needles became both gold and hay, and many wheelbarrow and wagon loads were happily transported around the yard. In another game, climbing led to both roosters crowing and pterodactyls crying at the top of the sandbox structure.
We offer structured group play options too, with bread baking, painting, woodworking and walks, all opportunities to gather together for an activity.
Walks, for example, offer a chance to explore beyond the school grounds and strengthen and integrate young bodies. Both classes visit the Ted Olson Nature Preserve, just up the road from Lowery Farm. The paths, fairy houses, fallen logs and towering trees offer infinite fodder for further play!
Interspersed with periods of play and exploration, the class comes together -- for circle time, for snack and for story. Children delight in learning songs, poems, games and in hearing stories. Teachers know that the children are developing literacy with comprehension practice and inner picture work, as well as developing their attention spans too.
A nourishing kindergarten experience also includes nutrition. And, from mousie treats of seeds and fruit, to huckleberries picked high off the bush by a helpful teacher, to gathering around the table together for warm, organic food and conversation, there are many opportunities for good food in kindergarten!
By the end of the morning, a kindergartener has rosy cheeks from time spent outdoors, time immersed in imaginative play, joy in singing and games, and wholesome food. They are engaged with their classmates and teachers too. These kindergarten rhythms are laying a sturdy foundation for the academic learning to come, and it is just so much fun!