Early Childhood Education
MCDS is more than an education. We’re a community that makes space for every student to become their brightest, freest, fullest self.
The MCDS Pre-Kindergarten program is offered with half-day (7:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) or full-day (7:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) options. In general, students should be age 4 by September 1 of the year enrolling, however, we recognize that children develop at different paces and evaluate each child individually.
The Pre-Kindergarten curriculum advances student skills in the areas of pre-reading, math, fine motor, and social skills with devoted time to science, Spanish, the arts, and character education to nurture the whole child.
Pre-Kindergarten Program Goals
- Support and develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills
- Develop and enhance learning skills and strategies
- Develop appropriate socialization and self-help skills
- Develop math and reading readiness skills
Browse our Pre-Kindergarten Curriculum
Developing a love for the world of reading is our top academic priority! Students gain core literacy skills by learning upper and lower case letters, letter sounds, word recognition, and concepts of print. As language skills develop, students participate in journal drawings and dictate descriptions of their work or short story adventures. Daily story time with poetry and short stories, reading buddy time with older students, and bi-weekly library time enables Pre-K students to develop an appreciation for a wide variety of literature.
Students explore math concepts of counting, number recognition, sequencing, estimating, sorting, patterning, simple addition, subtraction, and size with the use of hands-on manipulative materials. This learning is reinforced with number writing practice and whole group daily activities such as calendar time.
Imagination flows in Art, where students delve into projects using media that include painting, collage, clay, weaving, and sculpture. Individual interests are encouraged! Students are introduced to a variety of different artists and their unique crafts. Research has shown that creating a visual through pictures and other forms of art inspired by everyday learning, improves comprehension and leads to students feeling more motivated in the classroom.
Students are introduced to foundational musical concepts through singing, playing of instruments, moving of their bodies to music, and listening to different musical styles and composers. Creativity, imaginative play, and exploration are emphasized as students gain confidence in their musical expression. Pre-Kindergarteners enjoy collaborating with both Lower and Upper school students in school-wide performances throughout the year.
Students conduct hands-on experiments to learn the scientific method. Pre-K students learn to use their five senses to experience science all around them. They explore the life cycle of plants utilizing the nearby woods and prairie overlooking Lake Cherokee. Students build gravity-powered cars and create structures that explore stability. Other topics include static, mirrors, magnets, and the strength of eggshells.
Students learn speaking and listening skills through games, songs, books, and physical activities. Topics are as varied as greetings, colors, numbers, family, food, body parts, and clothing. Latin American culture is explored and celebrated in this interactive and hands on class. Emocionate!
Pre-Kindergarteners explore a wide variety of concepts related to movement including spatial awareness, location, direction, levels, pathways, force, shapes, and actions. Team sports are introduced. Recess time is carefree with ample space to run and climb on the nature-inspired playground. Sledding is a favorite in winter!
Our Curriculum in Action:
During our "Who We Are" unit, Pre-K students make inquiries into themselves and their classmates by learning about our physical characteristics including how our five senses play a role in building our background knowledge and enhancing our learning experiences. Students explore their feelings, likes and dislikes, how they are growing and changing, and the similarities and differences between themselves and others in the classroom, school, community, and world. Students learn to demonstrate caring, empathy, compassion, and respect for others and develop an understanding of their role in creating a positive and safe classroom community. Students also develop the concept of becoming a risk taker by engaging in new and unfamiliar situations with a brave and positive attitude. We do all of this work through classroom discussions, stories, hands on activities, journal drawings, and our play.
Group Time and Thematic Units: Group time consists of brainstorming, sharing knowledge, and addressing particular questions together. Students have opportunities to share their experiences and ask questions in the group setting while engaging in cooperative learning. Thematic units such as community, seasons, holidays, animal habitats, adaptations, lifecycles, plants, weather/climate, and earth science, provide continuity across subject matter and connections to real life experiences.
Character Education: In all-school assemblies, classroom meetings, and one-on-one moments with teachers and friends, positive character traits like respect, honesty, effort, perseverance, and kindness are discussed and set as the standard expectation. Pre-Kindergarteners benefit from being part of a Pre-K through Grade 12 community, by having role models in older students who serve as “Reading Buddies” and lead by example in school assemblies, community events, sports, and other school sponsored activities.
Activity Center Time: Activity centers include art, writing, blocks, dramatic play, puzzles, games, science, listening, and reading. This Create and Explore time is critical to social development as children have the opportunity to further develop friendships, practice problem-solving skills, and pursue their individual strengths and talents.
Create and Explore and Celebrations!: Daily Create and Explore time gives students the freedom to choose activities, build friendships, and develop new talents. During the year, each child has a chance to shine as “Star of the Week,” and families share their traditions and holidays.