Preschool & Kindergarten
The preschool and kindergarten division of Sacred Heart Schools provides a safe and nurturing environment for children ages 3-6. Through the Montessori teaching method, this three-year academic program forms a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning and personal growth. The benefits to the child of a Montessori education include learning at an individual rate, accommodation of all learning styles, learning how to focus and concentrate, and developing a sense of order. These outcomes are the result of a long and deliberate sequence of exercises and experiences that are carefully matched to each student’s individual developmental needs. It is the role of the Montessori teacher to ensure that the curriculum continues to build for each individual student as far as the student’s interest and initiative will take them. For these reasons, an education at Sacred Heart preschool and kindergarten prepares students very well for elementary school, whether at Sacred Heart, another traditional school or a non-traditional elementary school.
"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child itself.” — Maria Montessori
Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional development is the primary emphasis of both our Preschool and Kindergarten programs. Our intent is for each student to learn self-confidence through persistence, willingness to attempt new and challenging experiences, self-reliance in taking responsibility for their own actions with a commitment to personal excellence and the self-discipline to make good decisions rather than follow the crowd. Parents are encouraged to support their child’s self-confidence by letting them do what they are capable of doing and by encouraging them to practice the skills they need to learn.
By the time a student is ready to move on to the lower school they should begin to understand how others feel and be able to demonstrate a sense of community by respecting classmates, teachers, and school rules. Each student should be able to express their feelings to peers and adults, cooperate in group activities, be a good sport in competition and be able to solve social difficulties using age-appropriate conflict resolution techniques.
Research has confirmed that play and physical activity are critical building blocks in developing the cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills children need to learn. The opportunity to engage in unscripted group play develops in students the ability to acquire information about their world, enhanced creativity and imagination, a stronger sense of self, increased vocabulary and language fluency, the ability to use problem-solving strategies and conflict resolution skills, and the growth of cooperation and empathy. In accordance with the Montessori philosophy, playground time at Sacred Heart is a time for students to work on these skills which they will use for lifelong learning. Our teachers monitor each student's growth in these areas through observation of the students’ playground activities and interactions and intervene only when needed to help students discern between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and to offer re-direction or guidance in reaching resolution of conflicts. They also work to help the students understand the difference between tattling and asking for help, being assertive and aggressive, being exclusive and wanting to be alone.
Each preschool classroom is divided into five areas of study: Practical Life, Language, Math, Cultural and Art which contain a multitude of multi-sensory exercises designed to be attractive, interesting, and self-correcting to meet the needs of students at every level of accomplishment. The Practical Life area is designed to enhance everyday living skills and to develop the skills each student will need for all learning: concentration, coordination, order, and independence. In the Language Area the students focus on pre-reading skills, phonemic awareness and phonics. The Handwriting Without Tears program is introduced in this area to help the students develop good habits as they learn to write. The Math Area emphasizes pre-math and counting skills. The Cultural Area includes global studies and science depicted through people, places, and things familiar to the students. The Art Area is filled with projects designed to allow students to express their creativity while honing skills they will use in other subject areas. In addition, each class has an area filled with books for the children to enjoy, a Peace Table where the children can sit to calm themselves, and a porch area for open ended or messy activities such as blocks and painting.
The Kindergarten classrooms provide a transitional year between the preschool and the more traditional approach of the lower school. The classrooms contain the same five curriculum areas but the reading, math, and religion program along with the addition of Spanish and music tie directly into the lower school curriculum. In addition, the Handwriting Without Tears program is fully implemented, the social studies program focuses on the seven continents, and there is an in-depth study of an artist and an author each month. A Social Skills program is also a core feature of the kindergarten curriculum.
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.” —Maria Montessori