At St. Paul's, we know that from a young age, by nature, children are curious and motivated. Our pre-kindergarten program nurtures this curiosity with frequent access to hands-on, creative, and integrated opportunities. From engaging language arts, math, social studies, and science lessons, to dynamic art, music, PE, and foreign languages, our children adventure daily.
Four-year-olds come to school with a variety of skills in all developmental areas. They look at the world with wonder. They embody a joyful, natural curiosity that marks their early years as the most vital point in their development to become lifetime learners.
Our curriculum develops language skills, math concepts, social studies, fine and gross motor skills, emotional intelligence, and self-help skills. Our teachers begin with themes and activities that focus on the children, their families, and community, and then extend them to the rest of the world and other cultures. Our experienced teachers take a flexible approach, where each child is individually known and met at his or her own level.
The Pre-K program provides a language-rich environment in which literacy is integrated across the curriculum. Children participate in large and small groups to improve handwriting, language, and math skills. Hands-on science lessons in our immersive science and innovation lab and an experiential world cultures curriculum allow our children to explore the world and how they fit in it.
At St. Paul’s, our emphasis on character building and our inclusive, global world-view is evident throughout our approach to education and guides us in everything we do. Within every class and activity, children learn important, lasting lessons in humanity, kindness, honesty and good citizenship.
Children at this age need to feel safe and secure in order to develop the necessary skills for problem-solving, respecting rules, standing up for themselves, and resolving conflicts with words. Our experienced teachers create a classroom where children can attempt to solve their own problems, accept and follow classroom procedures and rules, and share attention. Children are also encouraged to demonstrate their developing independence by separating easily from their parents in the morning, practicing small motor skills by dressing themselves for outside, opening their own lunches, preparing their own cots, and being responsible for their belongings.
Our faculty strives to teach children not only academics but also ways to develop necessary skills to function and interact in a healthy way with peers and teachers, as well as creating independence and empathy for others. In a nurturing environment, our children develop a positive self-identity and self-control, become attentive listeners, learn to share and play cooperatively, and learn how to articulate feelings and assume responsibility for cleaning up after themselves. Participating in a variety of activities with their peers allows children to gain independence, learn to work cooperatively with others, and build resilience in dealing with interpersonal situations.
Developing fine motor skills takes time and practice. Using Handwriting Without Tears, a hands-on multi-sensory approach, we work with our students to prepare them for writing skills needed for kindergarten. Criteria for developing fine motor skills with the 4's include writing skills, small manipulative work, tracing, and the use of pencils, crayons, markers, and scissors.
They develop their gross motor skills through climbing, running, biking, and playing organized games in PE and outside. In the classroom, our teachers employ creative movement activities as well as organized games.
Our 4's are offered the opportunity to name letters, master sounds, and recognizes simple words. Our teachers build on early literacy skills through phonics and whole language activities. Through the use of children’s literature and the dramatic arts, pre-reading skills, such as fact recall and expanding attention spans, are further developed.
4's start off the year learning about themselves and their individuality. As the year progresses, teachers extend lessons to include information about other people and places, around them. Our experiential world cultures class helps children to develop a sense of belonging to a country, and to expose and share traditions of different people from around the world. Themes such as the rainforest, the globe, mapping, environmental issues, and Earth Day provide an even wider perspective of social awareness.
Preschool math skills include identification of numbers 1-10, shapes, and rote counting up to 20. In the four-year-old program, we teach math-readiness skills such as one-to-one correspondence, matching, measuring amounts and sizes, comparisons, sorting, and pattern sequences. Teachers introduce more advanced concepts such as estimations, graphing, time, and the concept of the number 100 as the year progresses. By incorporating these specific concepts into our weekly themes and activities in art, cooking, games, music, group interdisciplinary experiences, and self-selected play, we allow the 4's the freedom to explore and learn these math concepts in meaningful way.
Art is a sign of personal expression and our program focuses on process versus product. It is also the first way our children learn to communicate with paper. Art projects are designed to develop both fine and gross motor skills. Art stimulates the imagination, creativity, self-esteem, and initiative, and extends to build teamwork, cooperation, time on task, and language skills while encouraging the children to follow multi-step directions.
Our 4's experience a multi-sensory, hands-on approach to science in The Hub, the Lower School’s immersive science and engineering lab. Our approach demonstrates and teaches observation, predictions, comparisons, cause and effect, and reporting skills. Topics include weather, seasons, pond life, and the life cycles of plants, frogs, and butterflies, and much more.
Our music teacher exposes children to different types of instruments, music, and cultural experiences. Music appreciation and enrichment is the goal of the program. The 4's learn to identify instruments and the sounds they make. Daily, in classrooms, teachers integrate rhythm, music, creative movement, and songs into each discipline. These are powerful tools for teaching children memorization, auditory recall, and discrimination skills.
Foreign language is incorporated into our world cultures curriculum. Basic counting and conversational phrases and words are introduced to our 4's as they study various countries. Our Pre-K students have the opportunity to learn both Spanish and Japanese.
At the core of each physical education class are three general objectives. First and foremost, class procedures and activities are designed to teach each student the importance of physical fitness. Second, class instruction is combined with opportunities to help students learn basic locomotor patterns, kinesthetic awareness, and age appropriate sport related skills. Finally, class sessions allow students to engage in positive social interaction in large and small group settings.