At St. Ignatius School, we take great pride in our kindergarten program. Our kindergarten class is under the direction of a teacher and an educational assistant and enrolls a maximum of 25 students. Students attend kindergarten full time. Students in kindergarten receive approximately 110 minutes of Basic French instruction and 145 minutes of physical education per cycle.
The Importance of Play
Play is an essential part of learning and is seen as the basic ingredient for development in the kindergarten classroom. Play affects a child’s self-concept as well as all aspects of a his/her development: social, emotional, intellectual, creative, language, moral and physical.
So, what exactly is play? Play, for the child, is like thought or work for the adult. Through play, children are able to express their thoughts and needs as they explore, experiment, plan, pretend, practice skills, imitate, think, solve problems and use language. Other terms for play which are more descriptive such as: the mastery of events; accumulation of information through direct experience; symbolic process; investigation; exploration; and manipulation of the environment in response to novelty. It becomes clear that, for the child, learning and play are synonymous.
Play has been the primary learning vehicle for children before entering school. Parents know that a baby can spend hours studying his hands and a toddler can be fascinated by watching sand pour through a sieve. Play is the work of childhood, where children develop an understanding of the world. Children have learned an abundance of information about their world through play before entering school and this type of learning continues when they begin school. Studies show that the most effective way to teach young children is to capitalize on their natural inclination to learn through play. Their natural curiosity and their need to be active and social make play an excellent vehicle for their learning.
Play requires participants to be actively involved in an activity. Therefore, play in the classroom is self-rewarding and self governing for the children. Through play, the process of creating, building, or role playing far outweighs the final products that may result. Play encourages children to plan and to organize, thus making their world increasingly predictable.
“Man does not cease to play because he grows old; he grows old because he ceases to play.”
“To be playful and serious at the same time is possible, and it defines the ideal mental condition.”
“… and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.”
Richard Feynman (Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics)
Child-Centred Learning Centres
Early childhood teachers have found that the use of learning centers is an effective learning methodology for young students. A learning center approach provides the children with the opportunities for experience-based learning, active manipulation and self-discovery. For the teacher, it provides a means of meeting the individualized needs of the children and of recognizing their varied abilities and learning styles. With the use of learning centers, the learning environment is structured by arranging space, equipment, and materials, which the children are free to choose and manipulate. The centers are based on the curriculum but each center is integrated, providing multiple learning experiences and are not restricted to a narrow train of thought or discipline. Centers are supplied with a variety of materials serving different purposes and within different levels of development. They are designed and changed to promote independence, communication, experimentation, self-discovery, physical (basic and fine motor) coordination, peer interaction, and language development. Learning centers allow the classroom to be child-centered rather than teacher-centered. Play materials found at the centers may be self directing, allowing for a variety of learning outcomes or more directed, providing opportunities for children to develop specific concepts and skills. Each center is designed to encourage children to cooperate with each other and to work independently.
At one time Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). Our religion program, In God’s Image, nurtures four and five year olds as they discover who they are in the manifold traces of God’s presence in and around them.
The Earth, the sun and the moon, the change of the seasons, the growth of plants, animals, insects, fish and birds, all bear God’s traces. Children, in their uninhabited excitement and wonderment, feel these traces of God. They experience the world with an innate sense that it is all there as a gift to be touched, smelled, tasted, seen and heard. In this unique way, the child responds to the gift of God’s creation.
In God’s Image invites the children to see the earth and all it contains as a display of the glory of God. The wonderment and awe are kept alive in children, leading them into wisdom and allowing them to experience life as a trace of God. To help children recognize the many traces of God around them is to lead them into God’s presence and to make them friends of God. This is what In God’s Image celebrates!
The major faith development themes in kindergarten are as follows:
- Earth Times
- Church Times (The Christian story as it unfolds throughout the year)
- Special Days
Each of the themes involves stories from the bible, songs, and activities to help the children learn about themselves and God’s creation. Each child needs to feel that they belong to God’s family and that they are unique and gifted.