The Rutherford Board of Education and the community members support a full-day kindergarten program to meet the expanded K curriculum required by the NJ Department of Education. The Kindergarten Center has many important educational tasks, none more important than giving our students the opportunities to become lifelong learners. Our comprehensive instructional programs focus on contemporary research, balanced instruction supported by adequate resources, interventions for children with special needs, and continual in-service training for teachers. These integrated programs reflect the best pedagogical approaches to instruction and are designed to meet the academic, social, physical, and emotional needs of our students.
In order to develop students’ skills across the disciplines, subject specialists work with students to meet district objectives. These include weekly Science, Art, Spanish, Vocal Music, and Physical Education classes. The Kindergarten Center provides additional services for those that qualify including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, ESL and access to a Student Assistance Counselor. The Kindergarten Center implements a Response to Intervention model for students not reaching their fullest potential. This RTI model allows the parents and teachers to focus on specific goals, document progress through data and then refine the goals as needed. Additionally, classroom aides work with the classroom teacher in the general education classroom on a daily basis.
Computers and technology extend into all areas of the curriculum through software programs and wireless Internet access, which is available in every classroom. Teachers also have access to iPads to use in the classroom. Smart Boards facilitate interactive lessons in classrooms from K-3 and teachers utilize Google Classroom to communicate general messages with parents.
Our classrooms are inviting learning centers where children receive positive reinforcement for their accomplishments, both privately and publicly. Teachers differentiate lessons to reach students in their learning modality and plan thematic units to show the integration of all disciplines. The Kindergarten Center teachers set high, but realistic expectations and consistently encourage children to attempt more challenging learning tasks. Teachers use running records to diagnose students’ reading levels and plan for improvement based on evidence of learning. They also use leveled books and guided reading to teach students at their instructional level. The use of guided reading has allowed our reading instruction to be differentiated for the many systems that children use when learning to read. We have some students who learn to read using more directed phonics instruction and others who are using text-to-text and text-to-world connections to foster comprehension. The students are using multi-sensory phonics programs called Project Read. Students are learning knowledge of how words are formed, syllable types and identifying the irregular words, which do not follow a spelling pattern rule. The students take diagnostic assessments of their phonemic awareness skills and this allows the school to monitor students who may be at a risk for dyslexia. Students explore numerical and mathematical concepts through a hands-on approach developed by the Math in Focus program. Math in Focus is a researched based program aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which fosters understanding and exploration of concepts. There are on-line resources for parents to compliment the school-based program.
An active K Center PTA sponsors cultural enrichment events with wonderful programs that complement our curriculum. The K Center encourages community involvement and recognizes the importance of giving back to those in need.
As people enter the Kindergarten Center, they immediately sense the warm and positive climate that permeates our halls and classrooms. The building hums with productive activity and evidence of the high value placed on children’s work and learning. It is also evident that we have made the critical connection between children’s academic and social needs and their need to feel safe, accepted and valued. We remind children to share, take turns and show kindness.
The Kindergarten Center is a special place, where community, staff, and parents all work as one in order to make the educational process memorable and meaningful for our kindergarteners.