The Power of Play
At St. Thomas’s Day School, we celebrate and preserve childhood by allowing Kindergarten children to move and play freely in an environment that is carefully prepared to pique curiosity and stimulate learning. Guided play is used to help children discover, experiment, problem-solve and interact with their peers. It provides children opportunities to actively explore their environment and the world around them while learning about language, math, art, communication, social interaction, and creativity. Children thrive because they spend their days doing what children do best: playing.
The outdoor spaces at St. Thomas’s Day School are considered extensions of the classrooms, providing children with opportunities to creatively express themselves and develop their physical skills. Unstructured outdoor play provides an outlet for physical energy while releasing stress and promoting social skills. Each grade is given at least two scheduled recesses per day. In fact, all children at St.Thomas’s Day School go outside every single day in every type of weather. Recess provides a break from classroom learning, which is more focused and requires concentration.
Kindergarten is a time when children grow and develop at a rapid rate. Each day, they learn and practice a variety of social and emotional skills, while exploring their interests and passions to get a better sense of who they are and where they fit in the world. A safe, nurturing environment with loving, supportive teachers who honor and celebrate them, provide children the security they need to take risks, test their own boundaries and examine their own strengths and weaknesses. Positive teacher-student relationships model respect, appreciation, and connection, and allow children to feel seen, heard, and understood.
In the greater school community, Kindergarteners at St. Thomas’s Day School are recognized and honored by all students and teachers as the youngest members of our community. Students in grades 1-6 are taught to nurture the Kindergarteners and model appropriate behavior by demonstrating kindness, empathy, compassion and support. Upper School students serve as classroom helpers and buddies to the Kindergarteners, supporting them in Chapel and meeting with them weekly to read and conduct science experiments. All Kindergarteners are recognized by name and celebrated as valued members of the community.
Nurturing a Love of Learning
At St. Thomas’s Day School, children are encouraged to become lifelong learners who seek ways to enhance their lives and grow as individuals. A love of learning is nurtured when teachers create a fun and interesting learning environment that is filled with challenging, yet stimulating activities. Children learn to express themselves on paper, through music, in books, by designing, through art, with drama, and on the playground. We build children’s curiosity and nurture motivation by giving them time, space, and materials to explore ideas while listening, asking questions and offering suggestions. In other words, we support and encourage children by taking the time to listen to their ideas, get excited about their visions, and celebrate their discoveries.
Learning is embedded in everything children do at St. Thomas’s Day School. Whether it be moving their name rock upon arrival at school each morning, checking the morning message or counting the number of pellets needed to feed Walter, the class turtle, Kindergarteners begin using academic skills on their very first day in school. The classroom is set up with fun and interesting materials that invite children to explore and learn academic skills within the context of play. The teachers carefully construct the classroom environment with learning goals in mind, including letter identification, number sense, language development, patterning and writing. In addition, academic skills are introduced in Morning Meeting and reinforced during small groups. Each child is nurtured to progress at his/her own pace in a developmentally appropriate way through exposure to materials that promote learning.