AN EARLY FOUNDATION PREPARES STUDENTS FOR A LIFETIME OF POSITIVE LEARNING
Stepping foot into the Kindergarten classrooms at Ridgefield Academy, it is immediately evident how much the children here love school and love learning. While exploring the world around them and discovering what sparks their curiosity, children begin to recognize that learning is joyful. An environment in which learning is approached joyfully sets the stage for the rest of students’ elementary education years and for a lifetime of positive learning.
The Transition to a New Environment
For children to learn at an optimal level, they must first feel emotionally safe. At Ridgefield Academy, we recognize that the transition to a five day per week kindergarten program is different for each child. Children entering our kindergarten program have varying levels of experience with school; some have attended daycare, half-day preschool programs, or full-day preschool programs.
Children who experience a positive transition to elementary education are more likely to feel comfortable, relaxed and motivated to learn (NSW Gov, 2020). To facilitate a positive transition to a full-day kindergarten program, Ridgefield Academy educators are prepared to meet each child where they are. With a 9:1 faculty student ratio, teachers can get to know each student in their classrooms and provide individualized attention and instruction.
Kindergarten classrooms are intentionally designed to be warm and welcoming places where students feel secure and comfortable. Classroom elements, such as the height and size of the furniture, are tailored specifically to students of this age. Visual schedules help students know what their day will look like and encourage a natural application of their developing reading skills. Similarly, widespread labels throughout the classroom facilitate the use of reading skills and becoming familiar with all of the different items in their surroundings.
Preparing Students for the Future
The comprehensive kindergarten curriculum at Ridgefield Academy includes science, world language, digital arts/technology, music, art, physical education, drama, and library studies. These subjects are taught between 1 and 3x weekly by specialist teachers who are experts in their content areas and will indulge your child’s excitement and thirst for knowledge. The science and technology labs provide students with the opportunity to physically move throughout the school day and to learn and be creative in new spaces.
Kindergarten-style learning is a continuous spiral of play, sharing with others, and reflecting to develop creative minds (Resnick, 2017). The skills and creativity gained as a result of this learning style are incredibly valuable in today’s rapidly evolving society. In addition to the traditional academic skills, Ridgefield Academy introduces and teaches “soft skills” that are imperative in today’s 21st century society, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, active listening, flexibility, responsibility, public speaking, and empathy.
Preparing students for the future years is never just about academics. Ridgefield Academy boasts a mission that is rooted in cultivating kindness and committed to fostering mutual respect and joyful learning. The curriculum reflects this mission; kindergarten students are taught about character, kindness, and understanding. Students practice taking turns, listening to one another, being honest, and resolving conflicts. Teachers are both guides and models in how to be a good friend, be kind, and share with one another. In addition to character, teachers begin to cultivate an understanding of responsibility. Students are provided with options and offered the chance to make choices for themselves, which also facilitates the development of self-assuredness and confidence.
The Value of Childhood
In a school that is Pre-K to Grade 8 by design, childhood is valued and kids are encouraged to stay kids. Daily lessons combine fun with learning by incorporating music, movement, and play. Kindergarteners have ample opportunities to play outdoors and indoors. Students can be seen rushing to recess each day on the new Outdoor Campus Center, a bi-level playscape that provides endless opportunities for play and learning. Lower School students all celebrate what it means to be a kid on every “Feel Good Friday”, a monthly tradition with varying fun themes and activities.
The Connected Community
On their first day at Ridgefield Academy, Kindergarteners are immediately welcomed into the community with the tradition of ringing the Patriot Bell. Connectedness with the community is continuously fostered through programs such as the Kindergarten/Grade 8 Buddy Program. Kindergarteners connect with Grade 8 students, the leaders of the school, on a bi-weekly basis. This gives Kindergarteners a better sense of the larger community, as well as the chance to look forward to the rest of their educational journeys with excitement.
To learn more about elementary education at Ridgefield Academy, we invite families interested in admission to Kindergarten - Grade 3 for the 2022-2023 school year to join us at our Lower School Open House on November 7 from 10:00 - 11:30 am. To learn more about the approach to kindergarten at RA, visit the Kindergarten page on our website.