For the preschooler who is ready to move on to that exciting first day of kindergarten, each day provides opportunity for learning and growth. At this important age, children learn so much about the world through everyday interactions with siblings, peers, parents and family members. A visit to the grocery store offers valuable opportunities for learning. And, of course, play is the time when young children maximize learning. With the guidance of a highly-skilled kindergarten teacher, play and learning go hand in hand.
“We recognize that children explore their world through play. While the preschool and kindergarten experiences are rich with play, there is purpose and intentionality behind the play,” says Kimberly Hempton, director of elementary education at Bloomfield Hills Schools.
For instance, when kindergarten students build a ramp with blocks, then grab a car to race down the incline, Bloomfield Hills Schools teachers engage them in relevant conversations about math and physics. The experience evolves into another immersive learning experience – maybe building a post office or a zoo – guided by student choice, and limited only by imagination.
“It’s not reading, writing and numeracy instead of play, but wrapped around play,” Hempton explains, adding that for the 5 year old, learning in this way is both developmentally appropriate and student-led. It’s the foundation of a fulfilling educational experience that will extend not just through kindergarten, but also through the years that follow.
In Bloomfield Hills Schools, kindergarteners are immersed in early STEM learning when teachers and media specialists collaborate in the classroom to provide opportunities for students to program robots, then troubleshoot to a desired end result. STEM experiences continue throughout elementary school, advancing in complexity to match student development.
In the art studio, students explore with clay and other media to express themselves and learn critical analysis through paint, drawing and photography.
“Here, K-5 students will critique artististic work in a developmentally-appropriate way using language that makes sense to them,” Hempton says.
Co-curricular exploration in Spanish language, music, physical education, and media and technology weave throughout the kindergartener’s educational experience for a rich, immersive experience that will continue throughout the elementary school years.
Educating the whole child in a diverse, immersive environment
By focusing on meeting the educational needs of the whole child, Bloomfield Hills Schools is committed to growing thinkers, contributors and creators as early as kindergarten.
“One element you may expect to see across all of our elementary classrooms is a gathering called a “Class Meeting” which is designed to create intentional space for students to know one another, to work through their shared goals and challenges, and to support one another across the school year,” Hempton says.
While these meetings may not happen daily in every instance, they are designed to create a sense of routine in each individual classroom. Students come together to communicate and engage, even work through dilemmas of the classroom or the playground. This often provides opportunity to share a story and discuss how the characters of the story handle various situations or to solicit strategies from students themselves. This important part of the day allows students to have a voice and build social-emotional skills they will use throughout life.
“Elementary students build close bonds with their peers, their teachers, and the building principals. These relationships are the hallmarks of the BHS learning experience,” Hempton says.
A point of pride in the Bloomfield Hills Schools is recognition and celebration of the classroom diversity that reflects the larger community. “The idea that who children are racially, ethnically, culturally and religiously reflects what they bring into the classroom, and is to be celebrated and seen as a contribution to their peers. We draw from a highly diverse community and leverage that in celebration of the rich fabric of our world,” Hempton says.
Engage your child and prepare for kindergarten
Bloomfield Hills Schools looks forward to partnering with families that include children who turn 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2020. But learning is an everyday activity for a young child, and parents are a child’s first teacher. Consider visits to the public library, farm or grocery store as learning experiences. Ask your child to share what they see and what it makes them think about, to tell you a story, or to count the red or yellow vegetables or sort shapes of cereal, Hempton suggests.
“Engage in this exciting time by seeing the wonder of the world through your child’s eyes,” Hempton says. Most of all, remember that both parents and schools are active partners in each child’s education.
“We love it when parents share in the excitement and consider us partners. We value the input of our families that entrust their children with us,” Hempton says. “When children feel this excitement and confidence, they are ready to build on that foundation.”
Content brought to you by Bloomfield Hills Schools. Learn more about your child’s kindergarten experience at Bloomfield Hills Schools, and get important registration dates at www.bloomfield.org/kindergarten.