The New Kindergarten

The New Jersey Department of Education has recently made some changes to the way Kindergarten classrooms should function.  In the past few years, kindergarten was comprised of highly developed academics, affectionately earning the phrase, “The New First Grade.”  To circumvent these highly academic programs with large amounts of paper worksheets and a declining recess and play time, the NJDOE has implemented the New Jersey Kindergarten Implementation Guidelines. 

The New Jersey Kindergarten Implementation Guidelines reference the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards throughout while fostering developmentally appropriate ways to teach kindergarten students in a hands-on and discovery-based manner.  The “New Kindergarten” is much like a reminiscent trip to the kindergarten of old… learning by doing and learning at a pace that’s acceptable for each child.  These new implementation guidelines mean that kindergarten in many districts is getting a whole new look. 

So… What does this mean for Norma School?  Well, fortunately, many of you are already aware that Norma School has focused on limited worksheets and increased hands-on activities.  Your children most likely will tell you about things they are discovering in class, activities that they are working on and class projects.  The teachers design lessons that focus on class discovery, making predictions, and learning from things that happen while engaged in experimenting and completing tasks.  The increase in tangible activities at the state level is wonderful and fortunately, Norma School is already on board!

Norma School teachers, following the new implementation guidelines, will make provisions for choice center time, individual and small group shared reading time, supports for writing opportunities throughout the classroom, differentiated assignments that address student needs, and times for students to work with the teacher in small groups or one on one.  Furthermore, you will find that Norma classrooms are rich in child-initiated play and the classrooms are playful environments where learning has a focus but can be enjoyed by all.

The benefits of such an environment help children develop decision making skills, provides them with reminders and visual cues, assists in developing make believe play, provides opportunities to create new games and play games, learn how to make and follow rules, and set goals.  The self-regulation skills learned in such an environment are invaluable to developing social skills and becoming successful, productive little citizens.

The Norma School teachers have developed fantastic skills for addressing developmentally appropriate practices and focusing on performance-based and discovery-based learning techniques.  It’s no surprise that such practices are valued by the New Jersey Department of Education… We feel the same way!