The Miami Valley School. Early Childhood


The first step in becoming independent thinkers and learners

Students come to kindergarten from the Early Childhood School eager and excited. Our kindergarten curriculum is thematically driven and enhanced with special enrichment programs in world languages, reading, science, and math.

Because we know routine is important for our young learners, we spend the first part of the school year building a safe environment, introducing classroom management, becoming familiar with one another and setting expectations for the year.

Kindergarten instruction is guided by the KWL approach: What do you know? What would you like to know? And what did you learn? This methodology gives students ownership over their learning—they’re more invested and excited when they have the opportunity to guide instruction with their curiosity. Perhaps the students are curious about space, nutrition, France…collectively and in a collaborative way, our young learners pick the topic of study and our trained kindergarten teachers create lessons that dive deep—and wide—in that topic and incorporate all subject matters. Students may learn about space through singing songs, making rockets and cooking astronaut food.

Experiential learning is woven into the kindergarten curriculum in many ways but heavily through “Center Time.” Center Time is an afternoon block where students have the opportunity to directly apply what they’re learning at that time. They become more exposed to a concept or topic and learn it from all subject matters. Center Time can be individual or group led; more structured or unstructured and it’s always fun!



Differentiated instruction begins in Kindergarten and students learn about letters, explore sounds and punctuation, and talk about interesting vocabulary words. They read books and practice reading comprehension and learn how to have collaborative and constructive conversations about stories.

Structured nightly homework begins in kindergarten with 10 minutes of reading a night, often referred to as “Book in a Bag.” With guidance from the literacy leader, students choose a different book to take home each night—one that is targeted to their current reading level and that they can read independently and with ease. This builds their confidence and gives them an opportunity to fall in love with reading. As their book sense and vocabulary grows during the year, so does the reading level of the books they take home.

“Book in a Bag” continues through second grade, as does differentiated instruction from the devoted literacy leader.

Handwriting Skills

Our kindergarten teachers continue the Handwriting Without Tears program from the Early Childhood School. This structured handwriting program teaches our students how to write the letters of the alphabet in capital and lower case letters and exercise their fine motor skills through pincher grips.


Reflection is huge in kindergarten! At the end of every day, every lesson, and every month, students reflect on what they’ve learned over a short period of time and longer periods of time. Reflection occurs in group discussions and through individual journaling. Students take their writer’s notebook on field trips to record and reflect, ask questions, and make observations.

As the year progresses students learn how to write one sentence with one thought, two sentences with two thoughts, and so on until they’re writing paragraphs with multiple thoughts by the end of the year! They learn how to write facts, recipes and incorporate punctuation.


Students actively apply math skills and concepts during Center Time, giving them a deep understanding of numbers and an innate number sense. They compare size, numbers, weight and volume; they become familiar with time and other methods of expressing mathematical information, like graphs and charts; they count change and learn coin identification, measure size and length, and classify numbers. During the Kindergarten Restaurant Immersion, students review measurement and fractions while cooking and baking, and focus on counting money and making change.


In addition to the kindergarten curriculum and Center Time, we have a dedicated faculty member who teaches science for grades K through second. One to two times a week, our science instructor meets with kindergarten students to expand on classroom learning. Students start by learning the five senses and incorporate them later into their life science, earth science, and physical science studies. The science enrichment program mixes indoor and outdoor classes so students understand how nature plays a role.. With the Outdoor Exploration Center, students have an array of resources: the bird blind, discovery pond, walking trails,the five senses garden and the outdoor pavilion, which serves as a classroom.

World Languages

In kindergarten, students build on the Spanish and Mandarin languages they have learned in Early Childhood School. Up until third grade, students study both Mandarin and Spanish one to two times a week and are exposed to the cultures and languages through interactive learning. The program aims to arouse students’ interest in world language study, expose them to good pronunciation skills through listening and speaking, and introduce basic vocabulary and phrases through songs, games, role-playing, hands-on activities and projects. In addition to the language skills, another goal of the program is to develop the students’ awareness of and respect for other cultures with their similarities and differences. This is done through reading non-fiction as well as fiction literature, watching movies, cooking and eating native foods, learning authentic dances, engaging in art activities and celebrating special holidays. Through a well-rounded program of language and culture in both Spanish and Mandarin, students begin to develop a new perspective of the world and their roles as compassionate global citizens.

Visual Arts

The art studio is a place to explore, experiment, and create. Painting, drawing, sculpture, and ceramics are at the core of the artwork, where the process is as important as the final piece. The students work individually and collaboratively in a studio-like atmosphere. They are introduced to a variety of materials, different ways to conceptualize ideas, and other artists and their work. Projects arise from student interest, classroom curricula, and current events. New techniques are introduced and revisited throughout the lower school studio art experience. The studio is a place to invent, imagine and problem solve. It is a place where students envision endless possibilities.


We believe three musical traits are crucial to a student’s development during grades K through third. Based on Dr. John Feierabend’s research, we want students to become beatful (clap appropriately on beat), artful (move to music and appreciate a performance), and tuneful (be able to match pitch and sing familiar songs). In order to accomplish this, our lower school music program uses the Orff approach in the music classroom. The Orff approach uses speech as the basis of rhythm and uses movement and activities to engage students in the learning process. Students sing using solfege syllables (i.e. do, re, mi) to learn and reinforce pitch relationships. Pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments are used to build independent musicianship and ensemble skills. Beginning songs are created by students through short phrases of music through improvisation. By utilizing this approach in the music classroom, students are actively engaged while using creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, confidence, courage, and building relationships within their learning community.

Physical Education

The physical education program focuses on three developmental areas: gross motor skills, personal responsibility and demonstration of sportsmanship, and gamesmanship toward classmates. Team sports offerings include soccer, basketball, volleyball, and kickball. Students are instructed in the rules and technical skills of each sport so that the participants may understand how to play.