Thaddeus Stevens School kindergarten program engages the child’s most powerful learning attributes: their natural curiosity and their inherent sense of play. Learning to “do school” through creative experiences transforms a child into a scholar who confidently acquires the knowledge and skills in their journey toward academic achievement.
Reading and Math in the Early Years
The Saxon reading method is highly structured and sequential and forms the basis for the early reading program at Thaddeus Stevens School. Students begin the series in kindergarten and continue with it into second grade in order to produce strong readers who are fully prepared for the transition in third grade from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students have reading every day with phonics instruction four days per week and a regularly scheduled reading time for students to explore the world of words and to cultivate the joy of experiencing life and knowledge through stories.
Math instruction employs the incremental, sequential program developed by Saxon. The program introduces math concepts and provides time for students to internalize and master those concepts before moving on to the next. The program reflects the understanding that math builds upon prior understanding.
Both of these programs underscore the School’s belief in the steady journey toward the kind of deep thinking necessary in the upper grades.
Recognizing that kindergarten children experience physical and emotional growth
spurts, the program cultivates memorable rituals, traditions, and celebrations that honor childhood. To enhance their sense of respect for themselves and others, they must first know that their lives are valued and celebrated. The program incorporates their lives into the curriculum so that they care about school, develop a love of learning, and acquire a sense of commitment to their communities.
The classroom is paced in order to provide quality time for children to explore, to observe, and to create. Philosophically, the School sees the kindergarten experience as clustered into four categories.
The classroom is paced in order to provide quality time for children to explore, to observe, and to create. Philosophically, the School sees the kindergarten experience as clustered into four categories that enhance the child’s first experiences in the formal world of academic study.
One, an atmosphere that provides a safe learning experience must include the following:
- time to practice reading, drawing and writing, and observing;
- reassurance that learning includes making mistakes;
- support and encouragement to develop positive dispositions toward learning;
- affirmation that develops social confidence, self-motivation, and persistence.
Two, a learning environment that cultivates aspirations in its students must expose students to historical figures who surpassed their beginnings. Some of whom are listed below to represent examples:
- Emma Willard, a Vermonter who established higher education for girls in 1914;
- Thaddeus Stevens, a Vermonter born into deep poverty became a powerful U.S. Representative who worked with President Lincoln to outlaw slavery;
- Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys
- Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., southerners who rose up on behalf of equality for all.
Three, a community that promotes responsibility to a group must model the following:
- personal responsibility toward one’s materials;
- social responsibility by helping each other and working together;
- respectful interaction with the natural world on a regular and ongoing basis;
- confidence that inspires students to “thrive in a complex world” as stated in the School’s mission.
Four, a space provided that responds to a child’s imaginative energy through what is called “loose play” out of doors with materials such as:
- small shovels and dirt for digging;
- measuring cups and spoons for measuring;
- blocks for creating and altering structures;
- wooden platform for performance play.