If you’ve got a little one at home, eager to enter the world of formal education, there’s more to consider than you think. Knowing when the time is right is just one aspect of the decision making process for your kinder hopeful. While some parents believe age sets the schedule for school, others know there are more factors involved. And the educators at Christ Church Day School (CCDS) want to make this transition as easy as possible. Located in the quaint town of Coronado, CCDS is a K-6 private school that offers a fairly new approach to kindergarten—they provide both junior and senior level kindergarten classes.
What is Junior Kindergarten?
The first thing parents should know about junior kindergarten is that it is not a preschool—it’s more of a transition program into senior kindergarten. This special offering was created to meet the educational needs of children who are able to be admitted chronologically to traditional kindergarten but need more time developmentally before beginning their formal education. Typically, students will have already completed a pre-school program by age 4.
In junior kindergarten, your child will have the opportunity to thrive in a small classroom setting with a credentialed teacher and a full-time aide. Located in a cozy house across the street from the main school, students have their own space to learn and grow before they join the hustle and bustle of campus life.
While the classroom is academically integrated, the focus could be on anything from fine-motor skills to socialization to language development, depending on the needs and skill level of each student. That is the beauty of junior kindergarten—more small group and one-on-time to meet each child’s individual needs. Teachers will cover skills such as letter and word identification and basic math concepts. And the classroom is not the only place learning will occur. There are walking trips to the Coronado Library, and the students regularly tend to their garden where they can learn about flowers, birds, and insects.
Another way this program helps prepare kids for senior kindergarten is to help them with confidence and communication skills. Children in this environment are not only given the time to express themselves, they are actually encouraged to do so. There are opportunities to recite poetry, sing, and even share “daily news” with the class. In addition, they learn problem-solving skills, good sportsmanship, and kindness along with spiritual nurturing. Like the rest of the CCDS student body, junior kinders attend chapel once a week.
The main goal here is to set the groundwork for children to have a positive and successful start to their education. If you feel your child isn’t quite ready for kindergarten and could benefit from a more flexible program, a smaller setting, and lots of TLC, junior kindergarten might just be the right fit.
Moving up to Senior Kindergarten
Once students gain the foundation from junior kindergarten, they are ready to transition into the senior kindergarten classroom. This all-day program is taught by a credentialed kinder teacher and a full-time aide. Content follows common core standards and is integrated into many different facets of learning from standard subjects to special courses like art and music and even social studies projects like community outreach.
Each day, students participate in learning centers, reader and writer workshops, math and science lessons. While each child is given the time and attention to grow at their own pace, the teacher encourages them to be creative thinkers, ask questions, and become more independent. Instilling and developing a true love for reading and writing is a main goal in this program, which is something your child will carry with them through all levels of their education and life.
Senior kindergarteners also benefit from the same special offerings as the higher grade levels. The school offers classes in Spanish, music, art, physical education and spiritual development where kids regularly attend chapel. Additionally, kinders visit the computer lab three times a week. Not only is technology a supplemental part of the academic program, children will learn computer terminology, programs and tools which will be beneficial for all students at any grade level.
While this program is more curriculum focused than junior k, there are still lots of fun and unique experiences to be had. In the afternoons, the children enjoy the opportunity to learn through interesting, hands-on activities such as art, cooking, sewing, and science experiments. You’ll probably hear from teachers about these fun and messy times, as they are usually a good opportunity for parents to come and help out. You’ll also be kept informed about other classroom news as well as specific information about your child. CCDS believes that education is a team effort, and communication is a key part of that.
Whether your child enters a junior kindergarten program or heads straight to the senior kindergarten, you can be sure that they will be welcomed into a loving, caring environment where all their needs will be met. At CCDS, your child is their priority, and their goal for your kinder is simple: they want to provide opportunities for every student to grow and develop in a way that is right for them.