Friday, May 16, 2003
A snapshot of K: play, explore, interact, learn
The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) got a spirited "snapshot" of the kindergarten philosophy and program by the four kindergarten teachers on Tuesday evening, May 6. CSC members were quizzed throughout the presentation by teacher Karen Morse, which gave them the flavor and liveliness of the instructional program. "What are the numbers between 5 and 7, 89 and 91, before 6?"
Morse began the presentation by saying that children enter kindergarten with a wide range of skills and teachers try to meet every child's level and need. The program uses a developmental approach organized around activity centers. It is interactive and multi-sensory, and many of the activities are hands-on learning experiences. The children are encouraged "to work things out in meaningful play and exploration, both alone and in small groups." The learning experience provides a basis for the entire K-5 curriculum. "[Teachers do not] teach the children to read but teach them to be ready to read," Morse said. "The goal is to help ignite the spark for them to learn."
"The daily routines are important," said teacher Sandy (Jeitles) Graham. Children participate in an attendance chart where they learn the days of the week, the numbers and weather of the day and the months. There is also a job chart where each student is given a responsibility: the class greeter, the person at the end of the line, the comforter, the cleanup person, the problem solver.
Teacher Suzanne Comeau told the CSC that the curriculum is based on program guides "Everyday Mathematics" and "Mathematics Their Way," which help students understand the patterns of mathematics through the use of concrete materials. There is a lot of counting, sorting, comparing, and making of designs. Games are played and coins are matched. The teachers feel this program adds a lot of flexibility to the curriculum and concepts can be revisited later on in the semester.
Teacher Mimi Chandler commented that formal assessments occur throughout the year. Students are given the opportunity to show what they know in areas such as comparative language (highest, biggest, smallest, smaller), counting of blocks, shapes and colors and how high one can count.
Kindergarten children now have two full days of school and three half days. The teachers agree that the pace of the curriculum is more relaxed on the longer days. The extra time reduces stress and gives more flexibility within the program.
There is a tuition charge for full-day kindergarten days, which covers the extra hours of teacher salaries. The 2002-2003 fee was $350 per student.
Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson praised the teachers' efforts, "We have a great deal of appreciation for all the work you do."
© 2003 The