Oral language development supports the foundations of reading in Kindergarten students through participation, vocabulary building, and the use of storytelling format based upon the Rice School Literacy & Culture Program. Using the Superkids curriculum, students develop phonemic awareness that includes rhyming, letter recognition, initial consonant sounds, and emergent writing skills. Superkids includes lessons built around characters and utilizes songs, handwriting lessons, and workbook activities for listening skill practice. As part of a strong foundation for all literacy learning, students are continually exposed to quality, adult authored literature in the classroom. Throughout the year, they interact with literature through poems, read-alouds, dramatizations, and book extension activities. Purposeful communication activities and an emphasis on ‘listening to learn’ are woven into the day-to-day life of a kindergartener at St. Mark’s. Teachers work collaboratively to implement strategies that help students extend their vocabularies, develop print awareness, cultivate oral expression, and develop an understanding of narrative form through dictation and dramatization of their own stories. The kindergarten classroom at St. Mark’s inspires children to read and write through storytelling and other research based early literacy activities.
Handwriting continues in Kindergarten with Handwriting Without Tears. This handwriting readiness program suits students’ developmental needs and abilities, focusing on efficient grip and letter formation. Students also engage in authentic and creative writing tasks such as letters, “news” reports, captions, lists, and written pieces during dramatic play.