St. Thomas More Cathedral School follows the Curriculum Guidelines of the Diocese of Arlington Catholic Schools. The core curriculum consists of instruction in the following subjects: Religion, Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Students also participate in the following special classes:
Art, Spanish, Library Skills, Technology, Physical Education, Music
A variety of differentiated instruction methods are used including cross-curricular units, cooperative groups, direct instruction, discovery learning and hands-on activities. Homework is assigned to review lessons and practice skills.
The instructional program is supported through the following: Title I Program, Resource Program, Educational Field Trips, Guest Speakers, Community Service.
A word from the teachers about Kindergarten:
The kindergarten program at St. Thomas More Cathedral School provides a Catholic environment in which each child is recognized and respected as a child of God. We provide a developmentally appropriate hands on approach to learning. The whole child is educated spiritually, intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically.
The kindergarten year focuses on basic skills that will prepare the children for first grade. The curriculum consists of religion, math and reading readiness, language arts, science and social studies. The curriculum is also enriched by special classes in Spanish, Physical Education, Music, Art, Library and Computer. Woven into the day are opportunities for the children to work and play together.
Throughout the year the children present six performances for their families, prayer partners, and friends. These include October: We Sing America, November: The First Thanksgiving, December: The Nativity, March: Bible Plays, May: Manners Tea, and our final performance in June: The Kindergarten Closing Ceremony.
SAMPLE Kindergarten Daily Schedule
- 7:45 – 8:00 Arrival – Student Activities
- 8:00 – 8:10 Opening Prayer / Pledge / Songs
- 8:10 – 8:30 Math–Calendar
- 8:30 – 9:00 Reading – Whole group and small group activities
- 9:00 – 9:15 Restrooms / Snack
- 9:15-9:35 Recess
- 9:35-10:50 Reading—Small group activities and whole group read-aloud
- 10:50 – 11:05 Lunch Recess
- 11:05 – 11:25 Lunch
- 11:25 – 11:40 Restroom / Afternoon Prayer /Weather Graphing
- 11:40 – 12:10 Rest
- 12:10 – 12:50 Math–Small Group and Whole Group Activities
- 12:50 – 1:20 Science/Social Studies
- 1:20-1:40 Recess
- 1:40 – 1:55 Afternoon Snack
- 1:55 – 2:25 Specials: Music, Art, Computer, Spanish, Physical Education, and Library are offered weekly on a rotating schedule
- 2:25 – 2:55 Religion
- 2:55 – 3:10 Reading/P.A.T
- 3:10 End of Day Closing / Prayer
- 3:15 Dismissal
St. Thomas More Kindergarten Curriculum Overview
Religion: As the forefront of what we teach at Saint Thomas More Cathedral School, Religion is interwoven into all that we think, say, and do. We begin each morning by praying together as an entire school. Kindergarten children learn the following prayers:
- Morning Blessing
- Sign of the Cross
- Our Father
- Hail Mary
- Glory Be
- Prayer Before Meals
- Prayer After Meals
- Guardian Angel Prayer
We devote time each day to a specific Religion lesson in which your child will grow to know stories about Bible Heroes (Adam and Eve, Noah, Elijah, Jonah, Moses, The Holy Family, John the Baptist, and many Saints) concluding with the Bible Plays in March. We complete specialized activities that tie in with the each Liturgical Season, including an All-Saints Parade, Advent activities culminating in the Christmas Plays, Lenten traditions including the Stations of the Cross, and beginning to learn the Mysteries of the Rosary. Your child will also be in relationship with a Prayer Partner, an older child to befriend and guide your child in their faith practices. This Prayer Partner helps us to learn the songs we will sing at our weekly Mass, celebrated each Friday in the Cathedral.
Language Arts – Reading: Kindergarten children come to school with all different reading abilities. The goal of the Saint Thomas More Cathedral School Kindergarten Program is to meet each child exactly where they are and help them to grow into a lifelong reader. We do this in a multitude of ways:
Our program uses weekly story selections to teach comprehension and listening strategies. We use a program called The Comprehension Toolkit from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade in order to introduce these strategies using consistent language and practices. These strategies are aimed at teaching children to think as they read and include:
- Monitoring Comprehension (Thinking about the Text)
- Activate and Connect (Use background knowledge to make real-life connections to the text.)
- Ask Questions (Introduce wonder, the most powerful tool a child can have as they read to learn.)
- Infer and Visualize (Make a picture in their mind about the story)
- Determine Importance (Main Idea of the text)
- Summarize and Synthesize (Putting all of the ideas of the author and the child together to create meaningful learning)
Kindergarten children are also exposed to a variety of fiction strategies, namely predicting, characters, setting, problem and solution, cause and effect, drawing conclusions, main idea, compare and contrast, story sequence, fact and opinion, and an extensive vocabulary.
Kindergarten children enjoy journal writing and practicing oral language skills such as speaking, listening, presenting information and small group discussions.
Kindergarten is taught in small reading groups as well as whole class lessons. We use the Daily 5 reading format. The Daily Five is a way of structuring the reading block so every student is independently engaged in meaningful literacy tasks. These research based tasks are ones that will have the biggest impact on student reading and writing achievement, as well as help foster children who love to read and write. Children receive explicit whole group instruction and then are given independent practice time to read and write independently while the teacher provides focused, intense instruction to individuals and small groups of students.
Once specific skills and behaviors are introduced and practiced, students will be engaged in the Daily Five, which are comprised of:
- Read to Self
- Work on Writing
- Read to Someone
- Listen to Reading
- Word Work
There are very specific behavior expectations that go with each Daily 5 component. We will spend our first weeks working intensely on building our reading and writing stamina, learning the behaviors of the Daily 5 and fostering our classroom community.
The teacher will also spend time learning about each child’s strengths and greatest needs as a reader in order to best plan for each student’s instruction. This is done through the CAFÉ method. CAFÉ is an acronym standing for the 4 most critical components of reading:
- Expand Vocabulary
Within each of these components are strategies that students will work on as a whole class, individually, and in a small group setting. Kindergarten teachers will use these strategies to set goals for individual students to improve their understanding, knowledge of letters and sounds, new vocabulary words, and reading smoothly at a conversational rate. This helps to motivate and focus student learning while they are working on their individual Daily 5 activities.
Writing: Kindergarten approaches writing by sound association, tying all aspects of Reading, Language Arts, and Writing together. We begin by learning how to appropriately form each of the letters, write our first and last names, and then move to using our beginning, middle, and ending sounds to “Kid Write” words. This developmental step not only shows your child’s phonetic knowledge, but also challenges them to apply what we are learning in Reading and Word Study.
Using the Writer’s Workshop approach, each child will be given a writing goal once stamina is reached for small group and independent activities. The strategies introduced are umbrellaed under the following topics:
- Voice (Purpose and Audience)
- Organization (Beginning, Middle and End, Putting ideas in correct order)
- Ideas (How to find writing ideas, sticking to one topic, and adding details)
- Conventions (Using pictures, matching words to pictures, appropriate capitalization and punctuation, putting spaces between words, using Sight Word and Word Study knowledge in writing)
- Expanding Word Choice (Action words and interesting words)
- Sentence Structure (Complete Sentences).
Word Study: Word study is a developmental reading, vocabulary and writing (spelling) program, which includes the five stages of spelling development and how these stages correspond with reading and writing. Students are assessed for their word knowledge and will be placed in differentiated word study groups. Word study develops early literacy components such as phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, letter-sound relationships, phonics, word patterns and vocabulary knowledge.
Math: Kindergarten uses the Everyday Mathematics program in order to teach a broad range of mathematics topics. Developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Program, the program is based on research about how children learn and develop mathematical power. As a result, it provides children with the broad mathematical background they need in the 21st century. In so doing, the Everyday Mathematics program fosters number sense through a problem-solving approach and age-appropriate activities based on everyday situations. Taking advantage of children’s capabilities and motivation to learn, the program builds upon student’s knowledge by presenting key mathematical ideas over time in slightly different ways. Lastly, Everyday Math gives opportunities to connect what the students learn in the classroom to everyday activities they do at home. Kindergarten teachers work with students individually, in small groups and as a whole group in order to meet each individual child’s math needs.
Social Studies: During the year, your child will recognize and discuss current events materials and their application to the course of studies with the following virtues: prayer, thankfulness, obedience, sense of wonder and reverence in God’s creation, praise of God, respect, courtesy and helpfulness. Kindergartners will develop an appreciation for themselves as a unique individual by learning to identify and describe their feelings as well as recognize that others have likes and dislikes. Children will also learn to respect different cultures similarities and differences and develop positive and kind attitudes towards the community. Your child will look at the family structure to identify basic needs of families (love, support, spiritual, food, clothes, employment, education) as well as understand various family structures, rules, and the importance of communication. Kindergartners begin to understand economic tendencies such as: the importance of work in society, differences between “wants” and “needs,” and the exchange of money for goods. Children also realize that being a good citizen involves important actions; learn the Pledge of Allegiance; identify traditional patriotic symbols associated with America; understanding the concept of leadership; understand the concept of freedom of religion; learn their address and phone number; use simple maps and charts; and identify and describe certain people and events honored in our history.
Science: Your child will explore, experience, and investigate the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Children will daily describe and chart daily weather conditions, relating weather trends with seasonal changes. Kindergarten students will observe that all matter has properties, locations, and movements that can be described. They will also explore the concept of sink and float, learn about animal life cycles and the basic needs of all living things, and explore the properties of matter to include: colors, textures, size, shape, position in space, solids, liquids, and gases. Your child will begin to explore space by learning about the sun, moon and stars. Various experiments will be conducted throughout the year to acquire the idea of scientific exploration and investigation, including one STEM activity per month and a Early Learning Team STEM Day.
Handwriting: Your child will have the opportunity to learn correct formation of capital and lowercase letters in Kindergarten. We will work with your child in a whole-group setting, a small group, and individually based upon your child’s needs. We have blended two programs in order to meet all student needs. Kindergarten will primarily be working from the series Writing Our Catholic Faith, using the Advanced Kindergarten edition. By using this program, we will learn proper grip, to start at the top of the paper, how to form our capital and lowercase letters correctly as well as integrate the knowledge of our Catholic faith and letter sounds by discussing words such as baptism, communion, God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc. Kindergarten children will be taught letter formation using the lexicon of Handwriting Without Tears.