Early Childhood

Young children are strong, capable, and filled with wonder.

We believe a robust early childhood education sets the stage for a future filled with a love of learning.

Rich experiences help our youngest children grow into joyful learners.

Their innate curiosity drives understanding of the world and their place within it.

Children express themselves with clarity and confidence.





Environment

Summit's Junior Kindergarten (JrK) and Kindergarten (K) programs are unique. Our teachers are well trained and highly skilled. They show genuine care for every student and family. Each teacher brings vast knowledge of teaching and child development to the classroom in addition to a sense of humor and an attention to detail. Teachers see each student as an individual and adjust academic challenges to the needs of the child. Summit maintains high academic expectations for each student, but we recognize that primary age children are at various levels of emotional and cognitive growth. Our programs allow for the celebration of all talents and achievements along the developmental continuum.

Our classrooms are furnished with carefully chosen equipment and resources for teaching young children and we think they are the best kindergarten spaces anywhere. All classrooms have a second-level loft that serves as a playhouse, office, or anything the children can imagine together.

Culture

Portrait of a Teacher

The faculty of Summit School commit to these characteristics as defining features of our work in serving the needs of our students, their families, our colleagues and the school.

As an educator striving to develop the full potential of each child, I...

  • Enjoy and respect children
  • Understand the important stages in child/adolescent development
  • Observe children, giving particular attention to the unique qualities of each child
  • Facilitate and guide, fostering discovery, thinking, creativity and the construction of knowledge
  • Teach for deep understanding by designing a curriculum organized around meaningful problems, projects, and questions
  • Encourage students to form habits of mind as mathematician, scientist, historian, reader, writer and artist
  • Cultivate in students Summit’s core competencies
  • Gauge students’ understanding through multiple forms of progress-oriented and authentic assessment
  • Honor children as citizens, encouraging them to participate in a democratic society

As a lifelong learner committed to professional growth, I...

  • Reflect on the art of teaching and study the science of learning, always seeking to apply what I learn
  • Engage in ongoing personal and professional growth, embracing its inherent change
  • Study the Progressive Education tradition and apply its evolving principles in my practice: both pedagogical & curricular
  • Strive for excellence in my planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities

As a fully engaged member of the Summit community, I...

  • Demonstrate an attitude of service and flexibility, and use strengths and talents in a variety of ways to benefit the entire school community
  • Actively engage parents in partnerships for the good of the child
  • Model and uphold Summit’s Code of Conduct
  • Participate positively and with joy in the community life of the school


Curriculum

Days spent in JrK and K are full of deeply meaningful experiences and projects, age-appropriate lessons in all subjects, and guidance in developing friendships, responsibility and independence. Lessons are carefully planned to reinforce multiple subject areas. For instance, a science activity like gardening may also involve mathematics (seed counting, measurement, weighing, and graphing) and language arts (vocabulary, descriptive language, and making labels).

Students in the Early Childhood Program have a wide variety of learning opportunities including Spanish, physical education and music. Being part of a JrK-9 school offers opportunities to interact with older children and make use of facilities not always available at a preschool or elementary school, such as an athletic center, an arts and technology center, a first-class theatre, award-winning gardens, and a vibrant pond. And our Early Childhood playground, designed in part by Summit students, is beyond compare. To echo the words of our founder, Louise Futrell, Summit really is a dream school.

Mathematics
Our youngest students use a wide variety of materials to count, estimate, sort, classify, compare, graph, measure, weigh, and explore spatial relationships. Our children learn math vocabulary and become conversant in cardinal and ordinal numbers.

Through the use of the first level of our primary mathematics program, Everyday Mathematics, kindergarten children are taught mathematical skills that spiral throughout the year. Topics of study are introduced, practiced, reintroduced, practiced and integrated into other concepts. Strands include numeration, counting, measurement, time, geometry, functions, relations, attributes, patterns, money, graphing, operations, and problem solving. Children use rulers, tape measures, counting chips, money, pan balances, scales, thermometers, templates, calculators, pattern blocks, unifix cubes, geoboards, Cuisenaire rods, and other manipulatives.

Language Arts
The Early Childhood program is a fertile environment for language: written, spoken, read and heard. Summit values the voice of each student. Young speakers are given an ear. Young writers are encouraged. Young readers are celebrated. And young listeners are captivated by a world of rich sounds, words and ideas.

Daily activities invite children to explore new concepts and to acquire new vocabulary. Children engage in sequential story-telling and poetic and dramatic expression. We emphasize pre-writing skills like sewing, cutting, folding, drawing, painting, and working with clay, all of which strengthen the muscles and coordination needed to write.

Repeated readings and sight word activities enhance our language arts curriculum.In our weekly trips to the library for story-time and checking out books, we develop the art of browsing through, selecting, and sharing books with friends and family.

Science
The Early Childhood science curriculum comes straight from the world around us. We are blessed with a fertile campus which provides many opportunities to explore nature. Specific topics include seasonal changes, gardening, the interdependence of living things, and the importance of good stewardship of our earth. Of particular interest is the study of the needs, behaviors, and life cycles of certain insects and mammals common to our area. Also included are activities that invite the child to investigate the properties of matter. Cooking "chemistry" is a favorite.

The Kindergarten curriculum develops skills in scientific questioning, making observations, sequencing, classifying, and predicting. Studies include weather, life cycles, animals (domestic and wild), plants, structures, simple tools, recycling, health, electricity, movement, rainforests, soil, oil, ice, and crystals. These studies are carefully integrated into other curriculum areas.

Social Studies
Junior Kindergartners are still in the process of discovering the group dynamics of a classroom. We spend time at the beginning of the year learning what school is (and is not), and what is expected of students at Summit. We learn about each other's families, celebrating similarities as well as differences. Additionally, we look at globes, maps, and pictures of other places, in an effort to orient ourselves to our world. We talk about things historical and political in ways appropriate to four and five-year-olds. Role-play and cooking enhance our understanding of the unfamiliar, as we look into other times, other places, other people, and other families.

Kindergarten students make connections between the family, the school, and the community. Democracy is defined as it applies to the classroom. Students become aware of geography through field trips and map study. The historical and social significance of certain holidays and national figures are introduced. Experiential learning opportunities include the Big Friend/Little Friend Program where children are paired with fifth graders, as well as cooking, gardening, field trips, and visits by community resource specialists.

World Languages
Students study Spanish twice a week. We learn simple songs and games, color names, and conversational phrases. In addition, the world language teacher brings Spanish into each classroom on Fridays through incidental translation of the regular activities of the day.

Physical Education
Early Childhood students meet regularly in one of the Summit gyms with a specialist who helps us to develop the skills we'll need for the competitive games children play later on and for pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle. JrK attends PE three times per week and K meets four times per week. Walking, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, catching, and climbing are explored in a grand variety of cheerful activities. Emphasis is on personal effort and improvement. Good sportsmanship is encouraged at all times. Daily recess on the playground provides many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, make use of PE skills, and socialize with friends across classes.

Art and Design
Art and design are integral parts of our daily routine and finds their way into almost every lesson. We believe that art is one of the most important means of expression for a child, and we celebrate all efforts by displaying children's work. Most young children are interested in process, not product. They want to know how to use the materials we present. We introduce a wide variety of media, and include responsibility for equipment and cleanup in our lessons. Materials are on low shelves where they are available to the children throughout the morning.

Technology
Because they are a vital tool in modern education, we introduce computers to even our youngest children. In addition to a systematic, sequential exposure to how one treats equipment, we offer several educational software programs which the children may choose to use during work times or free times.

Music
Many classes start the day with a song and teachers find ways to use music in almost every lesson. In JrK, the children spend 20 minutes with a music teacher four days a week. Kindergarten students have 30 minute classes three days a week. They dance, play instruments, learn about pitch, rhythm, volume, and tone, discover the instruments of the orchestra, and (everyone's favorite) sing, sing, sing! We have an opportunity to perform for families and friends every year in the theatre at the Fall Sing.

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