Lower School

Kindergarten and First Grade - six students, representing Kindergarten and First Grade, standing in a line.

Kindergarten provides the crucial foundation in any child’s learning journey. At TCS we believe that foundation should be not only strong, but deep. This is a year of remarkable and rapid changes in a child’s development, both socially and cognitively. The kindergarten day here is structured to meet the unique and evolving needs of the five and six year old student in developmentally appropriate ways.
From their very first day, students learn and practice important routines, manage relationships with peers, and practice oral language skills in a warm classroom setting. As the year unfolds, they learn and practice critical literacy skills through a balanced literacy program that incorporates Reader’s Workshop, Writer’s Workshop, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, and word study. The workshop model is designed to meet each individual child at his or her own level and foster in them a self-motivated love of reading. As writers, students learn to communicate their own stories and ideas and construct written words using the building blocks of letter sounds. Math is hands-on, teaching and practicing basic number sense, addition, subtraction, and shapes though the use of manipulatives such as snap cubes, counters, rekenreks, and whiteboards.  It is always our goal to approach math and the sciences from authentic, real-world perspectives.
Inquiry based and arts integrated instruction is woven throughout all subject areas, helping students transform their learning into something meaningful, driven by their own natural curiosities and abilities to observe, wonder, ask, discuss, create, and revise. Kindergarten students are also our youngest musicians, participating in weekly violin lessons and multiple esteem building performances throughout the year.
The growth seen in the kindergarten year often feels like a complete metamorphosis. Students emerge with so many new languages at their disposal; they have become readers, writers, thinkers, artists, engineers, and collaborators in a short period of time, and they are abuzz with the excitement of all they are suddenly capable of. This is a powerful springboard for deeper learning expeditions in the grades ahead. Kindergarten at TCS is where we first define play, passion, and purpose!

First Grade
At TCS we believe that what we wonder, think, and notice about the world guides our learning. First grade is a year of incredible growth and discovery that is driven by our curiosity and desire to understand.  
First grade teachers are learning facilitators, encouraging students to see learning as an engaging process to better understand the world in which they live.  Reading, writing, math, science, and social studies become a connected part of that process and our young learners experience an exceptional amount of growth in these areas.  Reading instruction is created using the balanced literacy approach.  This incorporates Reader's Workshop, independent reading, shared reading, and word study.  During the workshop, students are provided instruction specific to their individual needs and levels.  Time is provided for conversations about books where our readers are able to share their thinking about the books they are reading.  These daily practices foster, not only growth in a student’s reading strengths, but also a deep love and appreciation for the act and art of reading.  Students in first grade begin to understand that reading is a window into all the spaces of life.  Writing is also taught using the workshop model.  Our first graders are taught writing skills in a variety of genres, including non-fiction and personal narratives.  Students are provided instruction in a variety of settings, whole and small group, and individual conferences. 
Math instruction at TCS is designed to be hands-on and offers students the ability to see math as a way to solve real-world problems.  Using math strategies and technology, learners are encouraged to solve problems and see answers from different perspectives.  We are excited to answer all those "why" questions that seem to be abundant in our 6 and 7 year-old learners. We use their wonderment of the world to build inquiry units. Students at TCS are encouraged to wonder, think, create, explain, and seek information and share what they have learned. We incorporate art and music throughout the day to create a balance of the sciences and arts that builds understanding and creativity. Through our Listening Project, genres of music are studied and discussed, providing diverse understandings of the world and its rich cultural history. Students participate in enriching art conversations that promote thinking and perspective. At TCS, first graders are provided so much more than reading, writing and math. Their thoughts, ideas, and uniqueness is encouraged and respected.