The Maumee Valley Junior Kindergarten program harnesses the children’s natural desire to play together. Cooperative play becomes cooperative learning. Teachers use this stage of development to help children develop their own ideas, both as a group and individually. Similar to Prekindergarten, long-term projects are introduced and students learn through questioning and provocations. Materials, questions, and opportunities are provided to encourage the children to explore their topic of interest further. The outdoors are a natural environment for project initiation. The Maumee Valley campus is extensive, and the children are full of wonderment. At this age the transition to symbolic expression begins and, for those that are ready, literacy instruction is introduced. The Junior Kindergarten is a five full-day program. In addition to the homeroom curriculum, Junior Kindergarten students participate in Spanish, art, music, and physical education programs.
Maumee Valley’s Junior Kindergarten language arts curriculum encompasses a wide variety of concepts, skills, and instructional methods. As students show interest and readiness, teachers introduce concepts that build upon what they already know and understand. Learners in Junior Kindergarten continue to explore and learn during inquiry-based units, which allow for literacy development to occur naturally, using the students’ curiosity as the guide for instruction. More formal instruction may occur in a whole group setting for age- and developmentally-appropriate lessons, or in small groups so that instruction can be tailored to the individual needs of each student. By the end of the year, students will demonstrate growth in letter recognition, letter sounds, letter formation, writing their own names and meaningful words, and pre-reading skills such as reading familiar words and rhyming.
The Early Learning Center’s Junior Kindergarten class builds off the skills and concepts introduced at the Prekindergarten level through data handling, measurement, geometry (shape and space), operations and algebraic thinking (pattern and function), and counting and cardinality (numbers). Teachers continue to provide opportunities for students to understand and master various mathematical concepts through fun and engaging learning experiences. Reasoning and problem-solving are also key components of the curriculum at this age. Teachers pose problems to the class, building upon student interests and previous experiences, to draw the children into a discussion and guide them through the process of investigating and testing hypotheses.
The Maumee Valley Junior Kindergarten class supports the skills of observation, organization, and problem-solving. The transition to symbolic expression has begun. Students practice using writing and drawing to express their thoughts and feelings. Small and large group work becomes more meaningful as students exchange ideas with each other. At this age, students start to develop preferences for certain children in the class and ultimately wrestle with the idea of “who are my friends?” Through careful scaffolding, teachers use this new level of interaction between students to empower them to learn from each other, develop empathy, and enhance their ability to function as a cohesive group.