Preschool Curriculum

Durham Academy's Preschool includes two pre-kindergarten classes and four kindergarten classes of 16-18 students each. Preschool faculty includes six classroom teachers, six assistant teachers and nine enrichment teachers. The Preschool's goals are to foster each child's cognitive, emotional, physical and social development; to nurture each child's natural enjoyment for learning; and to provide a rich foundation for future learning. 

Character education begins in pre-kindergarten, with students developing their self-identity, self-reliance and social skills by first learning about their classmates and families, and later by meeting working members of their community. In kindergarten, reading and language skills are linked to the studies and appreciation of other countries and cultures. Preschool students also take part in age-appropriate community service activities to encourage a regular practice of giving back.

Preschool activities include an assembly each week, daily playground time, special music programs throughout the year, field trips and cultural parties tied to units of study. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of various opportunities for involvement as volunteers both in the classroom and as coordinators of extracurricular events.


At the Preschool level, the process of visual creativity is more important than the product. Art education reinforces the student’s creative abilities by providing opportunities for visual self-expression. Students explore visual media through study of the works of artists of the past and present. Drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, clay and sculpture are explored throughout the year.


Cooking in pre-kindergarten is related to units of study and in kindergarten is international. Cooking experiences emphasize good nutrition, offer new tastes and, most of all, are fun.

Global Studies

Our global studies program celebrates the commonality and uniqueness of mankind. We explore the world with the objective of identifying ourselves as citizens of the world. Children develop an appreciation for other cultures through food, celebrations, music, art and literature.

Language Arts

Pre-Kindergarten language arts and literacy skills are presented and practiced in the many activities that encompass the fifteen units of study that are the framework of the Pre-Kindergarten curriculum. While learning about dinosaurs, the solar system, etc. students are exposed to many forms of print, enriching vocabulary, new information that crosses into the areas of social studies and science and multiple opportunities to actively explore and enjoy each unit topic presented.

Through these experiences reading readiness skills such as letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds, listening, speaking and writing skills are developed. Both teacher-directed and student choice activities provide good practice for spatial, gross and fine motor skills as well as an open and positive environment in which social skills are modeled and learned, independence is encouraged and accomplishments are applauded.

The Kindergarten language arts program includes reading, writing, speaking and listening. Letter names, sounds and formation are practiced on a daily basis. Once the sound-symbol relationship is established, there is daily practice with reading and writing words and finally reading sentences and simple stories. Supplementary readers help individualize the reading process as the year progresses. Throughout the day, children are exposed to a wide variety of poetry and children 's literature.


The Lower School library serves both Preschool and Lower School students. The program emphasizes the value of books for enjoyment and learning. Each week the librarian shares some of the classics of children's literature. Children select books to take home for sharing and these maybe returned and exchanged for new books any time during the week.


Pre-Kindergarten children develop their understanding of mathematics through the use of concrete materials. The hands-on activities are designed to help young children see the patterns, relationships and interconnections of math ideas and concepts. The variety of activities provide for concept and skill development throughout the year in areas such as patterning, classifying, comparing, counting and graphing. Daily calendar activities also help to strengthen math concepts.

Pre-Kindergarten children learn to write the numbers 1-9, work to recognize written numbers to 20 and participate in activities that help to build both accuracy and consistency when counting objects. As a child's math understanding and skills progress, they are used to form generalizations, make predictions and associate symbols to a learned concept.

The kindergarten mathematics program is based on the need for hands-on experiences to build a basis for understanding. Manipulative materials are used to introduce concepts and practice skills. Topics covered include classification, patterns, counting, money, geometry, measurement, graphing, counting, place value and simple addition and subtraction.


The Preschool music program integrates song, speech, instruments and movement. Children's natural affinity for music is nurtured through songs and musical games, interpretive movement, ear training, rhythm studies, instrument playing and listening to classical music. Three programs are presented during the course of the year.

Physical Education

The Preschool physical education program encourages participation in a wide variety of activities, cooperation and sportsmanship. Body management, locomotor and no-locomotor skills, rhythmic activities and gymnastics are emphasized and specific activities include conditioning, ball skills, games, tumbling, climbing and relays.


The objective in kindergarten science is to provide a hands-on introduction to biological, chemical and physical science. Children explore scientific concepts through experimentation and exploration. Personal involvement is stressed and critical thinking encouraged. Topics include the five senses, the human body, the universe, sea life, jet propulsion, weather, plants, animals and crystals.


Kindergarten children are introduced to computer use for drawing and simple word processing. Skills introduced include logging on and off, opening files, using a drop-down menu and toolbars, as well as printing and saving files.
An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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