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Welcome to Pre-K and Kindergarten AT BELMONT DAY SCHOOL

“At the heart of our Pre-k and Kindergarten program are the teachers that design and implement a dynamic and intentional curriculum. They are masters at providing children with the opportunities to explore concepts, reflect on their discoveries, and share and celebrate their learning.”

—Deborah Brissenden, Assistant Head of School and Director of Curriculum & Instruction

BDS Teachers are Experts in Child Development

We integrate play-based and experiential learning, while nurturing students’ curiosity and imaginations. Students build community as a class and lay the groundwork for literacy, mathematics, and connecting with the larger world.

“During the early childhood years, play becomes a conduit for learning basic skills. Teachers craft experiences so that students construct knowledge through active engagement, which to young children can seem like joyful play. Foundational skills are embedded in everyday routines and activities.” —Minna Ham, Lower School Head

Early Childhood Has its Own Space

Bright, airy classrooms accommodate each whole grade—encouraging broad friendship networks. Meanwhile, our team-teaching approach provides flexibility to work with students in smaller groups. Pre-k and kindergarten students have their own outdoor courtyard, next door to their classrooms, with natural materials for creative play. They also enjoy exploring our campus woodlands.

“ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ANY SCHOOL CAN PROVIDE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN IS AN ENVIRONMENT OF EMOTIONAL SAFETY ON WHICH AN ACADEMIC FOUNDATION CAN THEN BE BUILT. THE ADULTS IN OUR SCHOOL KNOW OUR CHILDREN WELL, AND THE CHILDREN KNOW THEY ARE KNOWN! OUT OF THAT SENSE OF SAFETY AND VISIBILITY COMES THE ABILITY TO FOCUS ON LEARNING, TO TAKE RISKS, AND TO GROW.”

—Angela Robinson, parent

Students Feel Part of the Larger Community

Our cross-graded partners initiative matches pre-k students with eighth graders and kindergarten students with sixth graders for engaging activities. Early childhood students are active in the school garden and also like exploring the school to visit the library, the gym, and for other specialized classes.

“students develop a strong sense of community, not only amongst peers in their class and grade, but also within the whole school. Student leaders become mentors to our youngest learners.”

—Minna Ham, Lower School Head

STUDENTS ENJOY SPECIALIST CLASSES

Pre-k and kindergarten students engage in

French once a week for 30 minutes

Music twice a week for 30 minutes

Physical education two times a week for 30 minutes for pre-k and three times a week for 30 minutes for kindergarten

Library once a week for 30 minutes

Kindergartners also visit the art studio once a week for 30 minutes.

Extended Drop-off Invites Parents into Classroom

From 8:15 to 8:30 a.m., parents may come into pre-k and kindergarten classrooms to share in their child’s transition to the school day. Students take pride in showing parents their morning activity.

“we maintain a balance between teaching the foundational skills embedded in our curriculum and responding to the interests and passions of the children.”

—Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teacher

Especially in Pre-K…

"Throughout the pre-k day, our students engage in meaningful and thoughtfully developed experiences that highlight their natural capacity as learners."

—Kate Oznick, pre-kindergarten teacher

Exploring Core Questions

We start by grounding new students in their surroundings, exploring the questions of Who am I? Who are you? and Who are we?

Students particularly like the Question of the Day. These queries encourage students to get to know one another or connect to a curricular topic. Students learn to express themselves, respect different opinions, and tally responses. They especially like when it’s their turn to ask the Question of the Day.

Especially in Kindergarten…

“Kindergartners are naturally joyful learners. They are constantly observing, exploring, and collaborating. We provide an environment that nurtures discoveries and invites students to work together to better understand the world around them.”

—Missy Paravati, kindergarten teacher

“We meet children where they are on their journey—academically and emotionally. While we have overall goals for our class, we acknowledge and honor that children come to us with varied experiences, backgrounds, and needs. At BDS, we embrace who children are, and we give them that friendly nudge to succeed and find their voice at a pace that feels comfortable yet challenging.”

—Betty Pryor, kindergarten teacher

FOSTERING LITERACY AND NUMERACY

Students explore a variety of center activities reinforcing sight words and phonemic awareness skills each week. Another literacy highlight is bookmaking, in which students sequence and compose their own story. Our reading specialist also meets each kindergartner and will continue to support their progress in future grades. The “Counting Jar” inspires a lot of conversation about numbers.

More Kindergarten Highlights:

Raise caterpillars into butterflies • Hatch chicks • Go on “field trips” around school or have classroom visitors to meet different community helpers • Become classroom helpers • Choose a poem to practice and recite • Watch video of poetry recitation at special event with parents • Faculty mystery guest readers • Chronicle the adventures of classroom mascot, Sheldon the Sheep, who spends each weekend with a student

“The play and experiential processes of Pre-K and Kindergarten are where children start to discover that they have a voice. They are then primed to further define themselves as learners and leaders throughout their journey to eighth grade.”

—Brendan Largay, Head of School