The Kindergarten Year at Westside Neighborhood School

The goals of the kindergarten program at WNS are to prepare children for their school experiences by tapping into their natural curiosity, providing engaging learning opportunities, and recognizing every child's unique character and abilities. Young children's early school experiences have a great impact on their future learning. At WNS, we strive to make kindergarten, and children’s attitudes about school, positive and memorable. WNS Kindergarten is a play-based program that is constructivist driven and inquiry- and problem-based. In addition to spacious and colorful classrooms, kindergarten students enjoy an outdoor learning center with a garden, working stream, sand area, and materials to explore, investigate, create, and play in an organic and authentic way.

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  • What Does a WNS Constructivist Learning Center Look Like?

    Constructivist, Reggio-inspired schools like WNS are based on the learning theories of Vygotsky, Piaget and Dewey. Reggio educators believe that young children are capable of rigorous curriculum within a developmental framework that allows them to explore, test, and question their world. The Reggio model at WNS incorporates all of the philosophical ideas and educational pedagogy embodied in our philosophy, engaging students in inquiry and learning that is organic and authentic.

    Building a strong home-school connection is integral in the Reggio-inspired classroom. Opportunities for children to extend their inquiry-based explorations to the home are provided. Parents have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to experience their children engaged in Reggio-inspired activities.

    The scientific experimental model in Reggio curricula forms the basis for teaching and learning. Students are asked to hypothesize, test out and defend their ideas. They document learning using many different systems of artistic expression to both explain and investigate concepts. Reggio-engaged teachers work closely with our art specialist who plans with classroom teachers to develop inspired long-term projects of study.

    Aesthetics are important in our Reggio classroom, as is behavior. Rooms and outside spaces are created to mimic home environments and natural spaces, and children are expected to respect environments and care for them. Outdoor and indoor spaces are rich in visual images and objects to provide provocations for inquiry and research. Children are encouraged to question, probe, and engage their innate curiosity.

    The student is encouraged to see him or herself as an important member of classroom and school community, making choices that will enhance the experience of all students. Students participate in real activities as part of the learning environment. Snack becomes an opportunity to learn to pour, count, and predict. Students learn about cause and effect from real life experiences. Recess can be math, as students work with water tables and mix various media by measuring.

    Documentation of student learning and making learning visible are important benchmarks of a Reggio-inspired program. Similar to the portfolio approach, documentation of children's work in progress is viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers and parents. Pictures of children engaged in learning experiences, documentation of their words as they discuss what they are doing, feeling and thinking, and the children's interpretation of experience through the visual media are displayed as a graphic presentation of the dynamics of learning.
Kindergarten Program
  • Full-day program.
  • Student to teacher ratio of 9:1.
  • Three classrooms of 18 students with two lead teachers per class, for flexible groupings and differentiated instruction.
  • Nurtures students' intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development.
  • Students strengthen literacy and math skills, learn about their world through social studies and science, and attend weekly classes in art, music, Spanish and physical education.