Language Arts

Chesterfield County has adopted a “balanced literacy” approach to the teaching of language arts skills.  The balanced literacy includes reading, writing, oral language and “word study”.  In the later part of kindergarten and through fifth grade, word study will focus on teaching patterns in spelling.  In kindergarten, word study begins with basic skills children will need before they begin spelling patterns.  For kindergarten students, word study, reading, and writing all begin with:

  • Vocabulary growth and concept development through read aloud stories, retelling and acting out stories, and sorting pictures by different concepts, such as living and nonliving things
  • Alphabet instruction where children know letter names and how to write them correctly
  • Sound awareness where children know the sounds letters make and sorting pictures by the beginning sound
  • Identifying word parts by working with rhyming words and looking at words that begin with the same sound
  • Touching or pointing under each word in a sentence as it is read
  • Writing that moves from scribbles or random letters to writing words with a beginning letter or strong sound that the child hears in the word (such as “s” for mouse)
Conceptual Math

Conceptual math allows children to have hands on experiences to understand and develop number concepts including counting, comparing, and patterning.  While students use the same manipulatives, they are able to work on their own level of understanding.  For example, some will be working with numbers 0-7, while others work with 0-20.  Differentiating instruction allows students to progress at their own pace.  On-going practice is a key to children’s learning.  There are teacher directed activities and independent activities within the math curriculum.  Pencil and paper or worksheets are rarely used.  Our students practice number concepts using a variety of materials.

Interactive Writing

In kindergarten, the teacher and students share the pen to write sentences.  The teacher will ask the students to contribute the sentence and they work together to write it.  The students learn many concepts.  Some include:

  • Alphabet formation
  • “Stretching” out the sounds to write the words
  • Correct sentence formation (first letter capital, spacing and punctuation at end)
  • Using correct spelling of word wall words
  • How  many words in the sentence (usually done by drawing a line for each word)

After the sentence is finished, the teacher will call the students up to read the sentence, emphasizing matching voice with print.  The teacher will also ask the students questions to gain an informal assessment of their sentence knowledge.

Small Groups

Kindergarteners are ready to expand their world beyond their homes and classrooms to the larger neighborhood or community. They learn more about the rules that help people get along with each other. They may begin to form opinions on issues and understand that others may have different points of view. In the second ½ of the school year we learn about different famous Americans, and have a Famous American Parade. Most importantly they learn what it means to be a good citizen.

Morning Meeting

Our kindergarten classes start the day with a Morning Meeting.  This meeting helps and encourages our students to use their oral language and social skills.  The meeting consists of a greeting, a brief activity, sharing time, and news and announcements.  During the greeting our students are asked to say “good morning” to their peers in a friendly and inviting manner.  The brief activity varies by day.  Some days it is a song and others a quick game.  Our students are then asked to share any important news in their life with the rest of the class.  Finally, we discuss news and announcements.  Some days this might be announcing upcoming events or a review of the previous day’s academic work.  The students truly enjoy the morning meeting because it allows them to get to know their classmates and their teacher.

Field Trips

We attend numerous field trips in kindergarten.  First hand experiences are very important at this age.  Our first field trip is to Three Lakes Park, where we learn about the lake and forest habitats.  We see many fish, turtles, frogs, and snakes in aquariums and terrariums.  The pumpkin patch farm is next.  There we learn about the life cycle of pumpkins and see the different stages.  We also learn about farm animals such as goats, sheep, and cows.  We go to Henricus Park to learn more about how the local Powhatan Indians lived along with our study of the first Thanksgiving and Native Americans in general.  We visit the Children’s Museum during the colder months, where kindergarteners explore what it would be like to work at a hospital, restaurant, grocery store, and a car repair shop among others.  We visit Metro Richmond Zoo and Maymont Park in the spring to learn about both native and exotic animals and farm and forest habitats.