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Preschool Curriculum

Pre-Kindergarten & Kindergarten

Durham Academy Preschool teachers — with decades of experience recognizing and nurturing each child's gifts and working with them to set goals — help our students establish the roots for future success through a comprehensive curriculum that is balanced with opportunities for exploration, play and celebrations of cultural diversity. 

Our program provides children with an opportunity to develop the skills, self-reliance and attitudes to maximize their creative potential and learn to navigate the world around them.




Joyous Learning & Life Lessons

The Preschool curriculum is based on the assertion that young children learn best by doing and that active learning is fun. Above all else, our goal is for your child to love school and feel successful as a learner.

We have a robust learning support team — including the Preschool/Lower School learning specialist and a dedicated Preschool learning support coach — ready to help any students who experience academic challenges. We know that such supports in the early years have a profound impact on a student's confidence, self-advocacy and lifelong academic journey.

By learning and playing with others, Preschool children are developing the social skills needed to be a part of a group. An accepting environment encourages a positive self-image and an awareness of others’ feelings. Learning how to share, take turns, negotiate, wait one's turn and make friends are by far the most important lessons your child will learn in the Preschool.

Pre-K CurriculumKindergarten CurriculumEnrichment ClassesCharacter DevelopmentLearning Support

Pre-Kindergarten Curriculum

A visit from sanitation workers is one of pre-kindergartners' favorite parts of the Community Helpers unit.

Pre-Kindergarten Units of Study

  • Me, My Family & Friends

  • Community Helpers

  • Five Senses
  • Farms & Fall
  • Bodies
  • Castles
  • Letters, Numbers & Holidays
  • Solar System & Space
  • Rhyming, Valentines & Numbers
  • Dinosaurs
  • Bugs
  • Animals
  • Oceans

Pre-kindergarten classrooms are set up in age-appropriate centers that include dramatic play, art, puzzles, manipulatives, games, blocks and building, sand/water tables, science materials and books. As the curriculum units change and children’s skills develop, corresponding materials are rotated into the centers and new activities are introduced. 

In the beginning of the year, unit topics focus on the children themselves. Concepts include how they are changing and growing, their families and pets, how their bodies work, feelings and friendship.

As the year progresses, unit topics take on a broader perspective as children learn about topics like community helpers (complete with visits from firefighters, sanitation workers, DA security officers and police officers) and space (concluding with the making of a space helmet and oxygen tank ... and a parade of astronauts!).

Kindergarten Curriculum

Social studies topics provide the framework for the kindergarten curriculum. As each unit is studied, lessons in mathematics, language arts, science, music, cooking, Spanish and art are related to the unit under consideration. The kindergarten social studies curriculum examines our community, cultural celebrations, global citizenship, goods and services, and the environment. Students explore the basic human needs of clothing, food and shelter.

Children develop an understanding of and appreciation for cultural similarities and differences through stories, films, discussions, role play and art activities. Each social studies unit culminates in a special celebration — including the spirited "Kindergarten Olympics" to mark the end of the Global Citizens unit. 

Kindergartners mark the end of their global unit with the Kindergarten Olympics celebration.

Kindergarten Social Studies Units of Study 

  • Our Community: Individual, Group, and Society

  • Cultural Celebrations: Time, Continuity, and Change 

  • Global Citizens: Power, Authority, Governance

  • Goods and Services: Production, Distribution, and Consumption

  • Our Environment: People, Places, and Environments

Preschool Enrichment Classes & Opportunities

A Preschool student works on a component of a Chihuly-inspired collaborative project.

All six Preschool classrooms gather as a group for weekly assemblies centered around a range of topics and activities — from a "Thriller" dance lesson led by Upper School dance students, to class plays staged by fellow Preschoolers, to information on cultural celebrations shared by parents.

The Preschool library program emphasizes the value of books for enjoyment and learning and the nature of the library as a research facility. Children in the Preschool visit the library to learn how to use the available resources for research and to select books to take home for sharing. Books may be checked out and returned on a daily basis, as the library operates on a flexible schedule to allow for traffic throughout the school day.

Over the course of each week, Preschoolers participate in multiple Enrichment classes. These classes — most of which meet in dedicated spaces outside the regular classroom — offer children opportunities to move their bodies and use their brains in new ways.