Clad in knee-high boots and sweaters, an exuberant group of pre-kindergarten students mingles easily with third grade students who provide them with encouragement and support as they work together to harvest, clean and package vegetables grown in the Bistline Garden on the Pennfield campus. This exercise is just a portion of their science lessons on plants, as well as part of the bi-monthly, schoolwide Buddy Program that pairs younger students with older students in cooperative projects and activities.
As a pre-kindergartener, every experience and activity in and out of the classroom can be a learning opportunity, even during unstructured play time at least 30 minutes each day. Throughout the day, students work on their socialization skills with an emphasis placed on kindness, respect for others, honesty and reinforcing self-esteem.
Going to the library and story time are favorite activities. Each child is encouraged to listen and learn, as well as to share their thoughts with others at the appropriate times. It is not unusual for pre-kindergarten students to raise their hands during Morning Assembly and to stand up in front of the entire school to ask a question or to add their perspective to a topic or theme and to have the entire audience listen respectfully. It is the environment we encourage at Pennfield – every voice counts and we value everyone’s input. It’s instilled in the youngest students and sets the stage for creating a confidence that resonates in an understated way.
Through games and songs, math, handwriting and vocabulary skills are introduced and reinforced in everyday class activities. A bimonthly yoga class encourages structured movement as well as relaxation techniques.
By the end of pre-kindergarten, students are excited about moving into the Lower School and are well prepared for and ready to take the next big step into kindergarten.