Kindergarten is an exceptional year of growth for students, where they begin to understand themselves and what makes them unique, as well as start to look outside themselves and discover the many ways they can contribute to their communities.
Community is a big, overarching topic explored all year long in kindergarten and begins with a focus on each child and their family during the first weeks of school. Children explore their unique talents and qualities with teachers and classmates, and learn to identify their similarities and differences.
In the late fall, focus shifts to the communities the children belong to, with an emphasis on the classroom community and school community. This work is guided by questions, including “Who am I as a classroom member?” and “How can I help my community?” These questions often lead to conversations about good deeds, with students spending time examining what good deeds are and how to identify them.
This year, kindergarten students in Katie and Vicki’s class turned that conversation into action by identifying how they could contribute to their community: One day, while in the Beginning School nature yard, the students went into the storage shed to collect a few items to play with. When they opened the door, they commented on how it was difficult to see what was available. After identifying this problem, the children were determined to take action by organizing the storage shed as well as the surrounding nature yard, which they decided could also use some attention. The students happily raked, swept, cut, carried, sorted, and worked together to get the job done. In addition to giving the students a burst of confidence, the exploration and experience behind this good deed crossed multiple domains of learning, and was grounded in the Social Justice Standards that are part of Rowland Hall’s kindergarten curriculum. Katie and Vicki were also able to turn the experience into a literacy and math learning opportunity that set the stage for a series of mathematical investigations in which students explored quantity, counting, grouping, and early place value.
After completing their project, the kindergartners beamed with pride—then decided to organize and label the shed on the playground as well. The results—clean, organized storage sheds and a nature yard prepped for the season—are beautiful contributions to their community.