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.
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.
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.