NDV’s excellence in teaching begins in kindergarten where curiosity and creativity are encouraged in the classroom, amidst a learning environment deeply rooted in development, respect, responsibility, and community. Project-based learning is supported by a fundamental approach to learning to read and write, count and order numbers, and recognize and name shapes and objects. French, science, art & music, social sciences, and technology round out an educational approach that encourages children to learn both independently and collaboratively. A love of learning is instilled in NDV students from the very start. A full-time classroom aide and a part-time aide are present to assist the students throughout each day.
Formal daily instruction in the Catholic faith celebrates God as the creator of the world which is God’s gift to us. Students learn that God loves every person and wants them to be happy. Bible stories teach students about God and help them learn about Catholic faith. Marist priests visit the religion class on a monthly basis, and students attend monthly school liturgies. Prayers are learned and regularly recited. A Class Mass in honor of Santa Lucia is celebrated in December.
French Language and Culture
Students meet daily with their French teacher and enjoy a lively, interactive French language program which includes animal characters, puppets, songs, and poetry all of which builds their French vocabulary, comprehension, conversational skills and proper pronunciation.
Students learn concepts about print, phonemic awareness decoding and word recognition, vocabulary and concept development, and response and analysis of grade-level texts. Journal writing is developed over the course of the students’ first year at NDV.
By the end of kindergarten, students understand small numbers, quantities, and simple shapes in their everyday environment. They count, compare and sort objects and develop a sense of properties and patterns. The use of manipulatives as teaching tools enables the students to develop a concrete understanding of numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, and measurement. Technology is integrated into the math curriculum with the introduction of simple programming using Bee Bots.
The science curriculum includes the study of physical, life and earth sciences. The students learn that properties of materials can be observed, measured, and predicted. They learn that different types of plants and animals inhabit the earth, and that the earth is composed of land, air and water. A combination of hands-on activities and observation of materials, plants, and animals helps develop the students’ understanding of the natural world around them.
The social studies curriculum is oriented toward family, neighborhoods, social relationships, and civic responsibilities. The curriculum is intended to give children the basis for interacting with and understanding people of other cultures, as well as the foundation for later studies in history and geography. Students learn about their environment and explore concepts of time and space. They identify symbols that are important to our country. They discover why they must follow school rules and laws as they learn about their role as a citizen in the school and community. Students identify basic characteristics of maps and globes. They explain how people have different kinds of jobs.
Kindergarten students are engaged in technology activities throughout the year as they learn to program BeeBots devices to navigate a course they design. Weekly computer instructions includes keyboarding, coding and iPads use.
Although a variety of art projects are integrated into the core curriculum, with many daily opportunities for visual art and self-expression, formal art instruction is provided once a week by the school’s art teacher. Art projects are prominently displayed on classroom and school walls and include self-portraits in watercolor, mixed media collage, sketching and pastels. Kindergarten art projects are on display for the public at the school’s Art Show.
Physical Education classes are scheduled twice a week for kindergarten students. The program emphasizes the importance of physical activity and continuous movement. Activities include stretching exercises, parachute games, relay races, obstacle courses, fundamental skills for soccer and basketball, and dance. Students also learn about nutrition and can identify the types of food in their lunches on the Food Pyramid chart. Team sports are introduced in kindergarten, with most of the students playing on coed soccer and basketball teams.
Each kindergarten student is paired with a student from the eighth grade. This year-long partnership and friendship is mutually beneficial and enhances the spirit of community and collaborative support within the school. The “buddies” enjoy time spent together at the Pumpkin Patch, making candy apples, having lunch together a few times per year, and partner reading.
Trips to the San Francisco Symphony are a tradition in the kindergarten, as well as the seasonal field trip with their 8th grade buddies to the pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay. Each year the students travel to the Chabot Space Museum to explore and enjoy the exhibits and programs.