Kindergarten is an important milestone in a child’s life, filled with academic and social growth. Students are immersed in a classroom that is a safe place for them to learn, grow, and explore. The daily skills that students practice in Kindergarten are the building blocks for their future success in school and in life.
Students are encouraged, celebrated for their progress, and guided to gain self-confidence and a love of learning. Teachers strive to create experiences that are imaginative, interactive, integrated, and fun!
Age: Children who turn five years old prior to September 1 of the academic year
Class size: Each class has an average of 18 students, with two head teachers
Curriculum: First year of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program
Languages: Spanish and Mandarin, additional languages available for a fee in after-school programs
Schedule: Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–2:30 pm
- Peek Inside the Classroom
- Explore the Curriculum
- Explore the Program of Inquiry
- Meet Our Faculty
- What’s Next?
On any given day, you may find our Kindergarten students:
- Developing their knowledge of letter sounds and phonics through songs, shared reading, and hands-on activities
- Using manipulatives and blocks to create, collaborate, and develop their problem-solving skills
- Reading and working with their book buddies from Grade 5
- Using their knowledge of simple machines to plan and create inventions in the "Invention Center"
- Spending time in the Studio, where they create and learn more about science, technology, art, and engineering
- Taking neighborhood walks to observe and learn more about New York City and comparing it to other cities around the world
- Bringing in their families to share and teach their classmates about the cultures and traditions special and unique to them
Our kindergarten classrooms balance inquiry-based, student-directed time with large group, teacher-directed experiences. Using the PYP Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes as a guide, students learn to become independent thinkers, communicators, and risk-takers. Six-week Units of Inquiry allow students and teachers to explore science or social studies-based themes in depth. Daily activities include Morning Meeting, small group work, discussion, problem solving, open exploration, P.E., and outside play in nearby Riverside Park. Math, English Language Arts (ELA), science, and social studies are woven seamlessly into the daily schedule, providing students with an authentic learning experience. Weekly specials include music, library, and studio (art and science) in addition to language study in both Spanish and Mandarin.
- Units of Inquiry
- Foreign Language
- Physical Education
Kindergarten completes six inquiry-based units that allow for the children’s own curiosity to guide their learning. These units incorporate aspects of the science and social studies elements into the curriculum as well as areas of physical, social, and personal growth and development. Our units include inquiries into: senses, products we use, the city around us, celebrations, simple machines, and forests. Through questioning, hands-on experiments, play, reading, writing, and other research, students come to construct meaning and understand large themes within each unit and take action to demonstrate their learning. As the year progresses, students will develop communication, self-management, research, and social skills through whole group projects and individual activities both inside and outside of the classroom environment.
Our goal in kindergarten is to accept all children where they are in their literacy development. We help our students progress by providing them with daily reading and writing opportunities that inspire them to become lifelong learners.
Kindergarten reading instruction is based on the reading workshop curriculum model. Kindergarteners are engaged in the following reading opportunities every day: readalouds, shared reading, guided reading, paired reading, and independent reading. Reading aloud to children exposes them to different genres of literature and new knowledge, vocabulary, and patterns of speech. Shared reading, or reading as a whole class, allows students to learn and practice decoding skills and reading strategies. We also use this time to develop comprehension skills to help students understand the meaning of printed text. Guided reading occurs in small groups or oneonone with a teacher. These sessions are highly focused and allow children to work on specific skills that need development. Paired reading invites students to interactively share the reading process with their classmates. Students also participate in independent, selfselected reading activities. Independent reading provides students with an opportunity to practice reading on their own level, develop fluency, and pursue personal reading interests.
Spelling and phonics instruction are structured around the kindergarten word wall and individualized word study lessons. Sound and letter recognition are important steppingstones on the path toward reading. In order for students to master each phonemic sound, we embed daily phonics activities in reading. We extrapolate key word
sounds from reading experiences and often use familiar and accessible words, such as student names, to demonstrate letter sounds. These key words, as well as high-frequency words, are added to the word wall for student reference. High-frequency words are grade-level words that commonly appear in printed text. We expect students to fluently read and correctly spell high-frequency words in their writing. We also teach children to decode and spell words through small group word study lessons based on individual student needs.
Writing Workshop is a key component of kindergarten language arts instruction. We begin Writing Workshop every day with teacher-modeled writing or a shared writing experience. Students are given many opportunities to write about a topic of their choice. While writing, students apply phonemic understanding, practice penmanship, learn about grammar, and gain knowledge about the writing process. It is important that our students feel like successful writers who have a valuable and unique voice to share. In kindergarten, we encourage students to use invented spelling so they are not hindered by researching the correct spelling of all words. Invented spelling pushes students to contemplate letter-sound relationships and keeps them actively engaged in the creative process.
Our math program is designed to help children explore a wide variety of mathematical concepts. We study patterns, numbers, geometry, sorting and classifying, graphing, counting, addition, subtraction, measurement, time, money, and problem solving. To aid our mathematical exploration, we use many materials such as counters, Unifix cubes, tiles, links, Cuisenaire rods, dominos, and pattern blocks.
Kindergartners will begin to view math as a part of everyday life rather than only a subject in school. We want children to recognize math at home, school, play, and in the community. Parents can encourage student mathematical thinking by demonstrating that math is a necessary skill used by all people in and out of school.
In kindergarten, we continue fostering students’ interest in Mandarin acquisition. Students not only practice responding appropriately to simple commands and instructions in Mandarin, but also have fun and learn the language at the same time. They acquire Mandarin through kinesthetic learning activities, fun games, art projects, Mandarin songs, story books, and video clips. We also integrate technology into the classroom to help students master the vocabulary of each unit. Students are trained to communicate and express simply greetings, words, and phrases. Meanwhile, students further study about Chinese character writing via tracing and copying isolated words. Students learn more about Chinese customs and culture, the teacher introduces important Chinese legends and myths in the classroom, and students experience Chinese calligraphy, brush painting, paper cutting, and festival celebrations.
The Spanish kindergarten program is based in the immersion exposure to the Spanish language. Students are expected to used their previously learned language skills in a culturally rich and exciting way with translated and original Spanish songs, games, and storybooks. Students are able to create and understand simple commands and shorts sentences, to prepare them for the next step in second language fluency.
Kindergarten students in physical education classes will review and utilize the basic skills learned in previous physical activity settings and apply them in different settings and situations. Locomotor movements become more challenging by adjusting speed, level, pathway, or direction while maintaining control and body awareness. Students are introduced to movement sequences consisting of a small number of steps in a pattern with awareness of the position of objects and/or people in relation to oneself. Kindergartners begin to demonstrate simple and modified techniques found in sports (striking, kicking, volleying, etc) and use small group games to promote teamwork and cooperation. Greater emphasis is placed on well-being and healthy lifestyles and students are introduced to the importance of rest, well-balanced nutrition, and exercises to form connections between health and physical activity.
In kindergarten, students conduct an in-depth study of two of the basic elements of art: color and line. They identify different types of lines and are introduced to working with and making the appropriate selection of media (e.g. tempera, oil pastels, crayons, and clay). Students are given their first sketchbooks, in which they put their ideas, make preliminary sketches, or free-draw. Students also learn the important concept of using art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.
Kindergarteners’ focus in music is on understanding dynamics (short/long and high/low), demonstrating steady beat, responding to music through movement, and beginning sightreading. Students are also very involved in instrument exploration and improvisation. They are often playing and composing during class, and singing songs in a variety of languages and styles.
Kindergarten students also participate in a Carnegie Hall program throughout the year called Musical Explorers. The curriculum is designed to connect students to the diverse musical community of New York City as they develop listening, singing, and composing skills. Each semester culminates in an interactive concert featuring vocalists from a wide variety of musical styles and cultures and from six New York City neighborhoods. Students not only listen to, but also perform songs with the artists during the concert.
In kindergarten, students visit the school library once a week to enjoy stories and non-fiction books. Books selected often support the PYP Units of Inquiry and students are encouraged to participate in the stories and make connections to the unit. Students borrow books from the Riverside Campus library and begin to recognize the importance of the library and its resources as part of their classroom work.
During the school year, kindergarten students have several opportunities to explore Dwight’s Main Campus at 89th Street and Central Park West, whether they are visiting their third grade reading buddies, listening to a high school biology teacher talk about fossils, or attending a community meeting or assembly. When the time comes to move up to first grade, our students are prepared and excited about their transition to “Big Dwight.”
Watch Dwight's Kindergarten on The Today Show!