Kindergarten

The Roland Park Country School kindergarten program focuses on “learning how to learn” and is tailored to girls’ interests, strengths, and learning styles. Through a combination of direct instruction, hands-on exploration, movement, games, and songs, students build knowledge and hone skills that will prepare them for the school years ahead. Our teachers are proficient in presenting lessons that are designed to motivate and reach all learners. During this first year of their academic journey, kindergarten girls learn the value of both individuality and collaboration. Values, character education, and social emotional lessons are built into the curriculum. During this first year, the girls are introduced to the Toolbox Lesson Tools- 12 tools that help build resilience, self-regulation and empathy. 

Literacy/Writing

The goal of our literacy/writing program is to develop confident and self-motivated readers and writers. We nurture strong communication skills and an appreciation of literature. Individual needs are met as skills are introduced and developed. At the heart of the program is use of the Phono-Graphix method of letter sound correlation. This highly structured, systematic and multi-sensory method allows all students to learn reading and spelling skills that build comprehension and fluency. 
Kindergarten girls will focus on: 
●    Listening and speaking skills
●    Alphabet letter recognition and letter/sound correlation
●    Phonological and phonemic awareness based on Phono-Graphix method 
●    Sight word practice
●    Leveled reading 
●    Writer’s Workshop – creative story telling that builds confidence and foundational skills
●    Beginning D’Nealian Handwriting
●    Writing basic sentences using spacing and punctuation
 

Math

The Lower School math program is founded on best practices and research-based mathematics education. The goal of the program is to help our girls construct deep conceptual understanding, build strong problem-solving skills, and develop computational fluency. From the earliest age, students are driven to develop a clear number sense that gives them confidence and power over numbers and computation. They analyze mathematical relationships, build their geometric and numeric reasoning, and draw conclusions from this deeper thinking. An emphasis on understanding allows students to construct meaning and think flexibly about procedures that are efficient and effective. This approach to math instruction empowers our girls to feel increasingly confident about their mathematical ability and understanding. This confidence and depth of understanding will expand their future possibilities in all STEM fields.

During the kindergarten year, the emphasis is on developing strong number sense, understanding patterns and relationships, and practicing flexible thinking when solving problems. Lessons include: 
●    Number recognition and visual correlation
●    Sorting and attributes
●    Graphs and Venn diagrams
●    Number comparison
●    Concept of addition and subtraction 
●    Story problem solving using addition 
●    Number sentences
●    Addition and subtraction of two whole numbers up to or from 10
 

Social Studies

The purpose of the Lower School social studies is for students to understand their place in the global community and in historical time. Starting with understanding self and family, students progress to understanding local community, city and state, country and global. Geography and research are integrated throughout the curriculum. An emphasis is placed on the power of the individual to impact the world in which we live. 

The goal of our kindergarten social studies program is to help girls build context and meaning with regards to world around them. Building awareness and appreciation for each individual’s uniqueness and cultural identity is emphasized. During the kindergarten year, girls ask the question, “Who am I?” as they share aspects of themselves with classmates. They will explore the notion of identity through lessons around diversity and inclusion. In addition, they look at their school and local community and begin to explore the holidays and traditions both at home and around the world. Research and presentation are introduced in kindergarten. The girls complete a research project on an animal and present their work to the school community.

Science

All science units in grades K-5 derive from the Next Generation Science Standards and engage girls in the areas of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Engineering Design. Units are hands-on and performance-based and strive to enhance our girls’ natural curiosity. As girls explore the science content and how it connects to the natural world, they develop key learning skills – communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem-solving, resilience, and flexibility.

Learning is extended to the outdoors while working in the Lower School garden or visiting the Backwoods. Our garden program teaches basic skills in growing and harvesting plants, caring for the environment and encouraging individual wellness. 

Kindergarten girls explore some or all of the following:
•    Garden: introduction to seed germination 
•    Five senses
•    Health
•    Trees, seeds, plants - study of four seasons
•    Engineering design challenges

Music

The music program uses a combination of Orff and Kodaly teaching methodologies. The Kodaly method is based primarily on singing and follows a child-developmental approach to learning basic rhythms and intervals. For example, children learn quarter notes and eighth notes first since these rhythms can be related to their walking and running paces. These rhythms are also the building blocks of most of the folk songs and games we play in class. The Orff method utilizes singing, moving, speaking and various instruments (both pitched and unpitched). The Orff instruments provide an ideal medium for texture and color exploration and provide a visual representation of pitch relationships that becomes especially useful when learning to read music. Playing in an instrumental ensemble requires focus, cooperation and an ability to hear one’s part within the whole. As children progress through the program, they begin to improvise and compose their own music and accompaniments to poems, rhymes and simple folk songs.

During the kindergarten year, girls:
•    Are introduced to pitch, rhythm, and musical expression through songs, dance, and games
•    Are introduced to music styles and instrument families
•    Participate in two concert performances a year 
 

Art

The Lower School art curriculum covers many of the skills necessary for meaningful self-expression. These skills include: use of shapes – both geometric and free form, understanding the color wheel, and qualities of 2D and 3D design, as well as composition using balance and spatial relationships. The Lower School curriculum also takes on an historical perspective that includes art units inspired by famous artists and varied cultures. Some examples of these artistic influences include Warhol, Chagall, Kahlo, Matisse, and Monet, as well as cultural inspirations from the Ancient Egyptians, Greco-Roman Bas Reliefs and mosaics, Native American artifacts, Peruvian weavings, and African tribal masks. Art movements are also incorporated into the curriculum units, such as Pop Art self-portraits, Surrealist paintings, Impressionist landscapes, and Cubist compositions. Students in Lower School are encouraged to utilize artistic expression within a variety of media and techniques to extend their learning inside and outside the classroom. Media that are explored include everything from painting, drawing and collage to beading, building and sculpture. Students at RPCS can stretch their imaginations and intellects thanks to their involvement in the Visual Arts.

The kindergarten art program explores a range of artists’ mediums and forms of expression. Girls study geometric versus organic shapes, mixed media, and color wheels. Every grade completes a self-portrait. Kindergarten girls uses patterns and color to complement their self-expression. Artist studies include a yearly trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art. 

Dance

The Lower School dance program introduces emerging to developing techniques, and students evolve throughout the various levels of instruction. Using a variety of dance styles such as pre-ballet, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, partner work, and choreography, the dancers mature in their overall knowledge of many styles and forms. Emphasis is placed on motor control skills, spatial and motor awareness, muscular development, core conditioning, stretching, yoga, and posture. Dance classes are specifically designed to support multiple learning styles. Dancers work together in ensembles, to engage in and connect with problem solving activities, teamwork, and leadership skills.  

Kindergarten girls experience dance three days out of the 10 day cycle. They receive an introduction to basic ballet (pre-ballet) and learn to focus on breathing, movement, posture, spatial awareness and core conditioning. Girls practice performing as an ensemble for the spring recital. 
 

Physical Education

Kindergarten classes meet five days out of 10 for 50 minutes. The main emphasis of the physical education (PE) program is individual skill development and cooperative interaction. PE in the Lower School strives to provide the best opportunity for physical activity for students. The goal is to develop healthy, responsible students who have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to work together in groups, think critically, and participate in a variety of activities that lead to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The students explore and refine basic movement patterns and are exposed to exploratory and discovery experiences involving body awareness, spatial orientation, basic body actions, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, rhythmic movement, and an introduction to team sports such as badminton, soccer, tennis, and basketball. 

World Languages

Three languages are offered in the Lower School: Chinese, French and Spanish. In K–2, students practice each language with an emphasis on oral communication reinforced through songs, games, role playing, language-based websites and a broad survey of the representative culture. In grades 3–5, students focus on one language, utilizing a variety of learning tools such as total physical response, Symtalk, poems and plays. Writing and reading skills are developed with the support of books, audio and interactive technology. Girls choose their focus language as they enter third grade. Chinese and one Romance language are offered each year. The Romance language could be Spanish or French, depending on the student’s year of entry. 

Kindergarten girls are given exposure to three languages during the year. Classes are taught five days out of the 10 day cycle for 30 minutes. Projects, games and performances at our Lower School Morning Meetings showcase their learning. 

Informational Literacy/Technology

With over 11,000 books in the Lower School library and an iPad for every student, girls are given endless access to thoughts, ideas, stories, and research that are both current and timeless. Girls in grades K-5 receive weekly instruction in using the library for research and literature appreciation. Library classes provide exposure to many kinds of literature genres and monthly book clubs provide enrichment opportunities for young readers.  

RPCS believes that technology can foster and ignite some of the most creative ideas. With our 1:1 iPad program and a dedicated Innovation Lab, we provide students with endless ways to be curious and creative. Our technology program provides tools that are completely integrated into our classrooms and supports learning across all content areas. This integration provides students with purposeful access to research tools, digital libraries, content specific apps, and creative tools. Our Innovation Lab provides a dedicated makerspace filled with state of the art 3D printers, building tools, green screens, and materials for students to design and develop their ideas. The Lower School has a dedicated technology integrationist to help provide instruction and support for students, as well as, learning opportunities and technology integration planning for our faculty.   

Values, Character Education and Social Emotional Learning

At each grade level of the Lower School, girls’ social and emotional intelligence is intentionally developed. This attention to the whole child is woven into every activity, not just a once-a-week course. Through the use of Responsive Classroom and The Toolbox Project curricula, girls in grades K–5 learn how to recognize the traits in themselves and others that lead to healthy relationships and a sense of personal well-being. Toolbox lessons are taught by the Lower School counselor to give the girls access to the 12 tools within themselves that build self-regulation skills. The Responsive Classroom approach fosters respect and empathy. In addition, daily morning meeting time is used to build an understanding of unique qualities of culture, race and circumstance that enriches our community. Our girls leave Lower School with a moral compass, prepared to see the good in others and appreciate the good within themselves.
•    Kindergarten girls are introduced to the 12 Toolbox tools: breathing, quiet/safe place, listening, empathy, personal space, using our words, garbage can, taking time, please and thank you, apology and forgiveness, patience, and courage. 
•    Through Responsive Classroom, the girls develop classroom expectations and practice being a good citizen. They learn to express themselves and solve conflict through listening and conversation. Morning meeting time builds community and empathy for each other. 
•    Lunch as a classroom is a time for the girls to explore the ideas of healthy eating, make colorful choices on their plate, hold respectful conversations, and use quiet time to listen to stories of individuals that made a difference in the world. 
 

Special Events

The kindergarten experience is highlighted by a number of special events including:
•    Fall harvest feast
•    Teddy bear dance
•    BMA trip
•    Irvine Nature Center trip
•    Spring harvest feast
•    Pre-Preakness Pimlico Race Course trip