The kindergarten and first grade curriculum is based on the Virginia Standards of Learning. Age appropriate instructional activities encourage children to engage in hands on learning while exploring, predicting and analyzing to acquire new skills. Early literacy skills teach children about reading, writing, listening and speaking. Classrooms offer a balanced approach to literacy. Concepts of print activities, phonemic awareness, guided reading, shared reading, word study, vocabulary development and comprehension strategies are offered through an environment rich in literature and writing opportunities. Children have many opportunities through centers and small group instruction to become fluent readers and writers.
In March 2012, Mount Daniel School was authorized as an International Baccalaureate Organization Primary Years Programme (PYP) school ensuring that student learning is authentic, engaging, relevant to the “real” world, challenging, and significant with a commitment to a transdisciplinary model. Themes of global significance frame the learning throughout the primary years including early childhood. The PYP provides opportunities for students to build meaning and refine understanding principally through structured inquiry. Students are encouraged to be curious, inquisitive, explore and interact with the environment physically, socially and intellectually. Early childhood teachers are encouraged to build up students’ self-esteem and confidence, and support them so they are active inquirers and life-long learners.
- Think Math program teaches students to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- A concrete discovery oriented science program through Scholastic Science encourages children to compare and contrast real data.
- Geography, mapping skills, economics, civics and history introduced through famous people are explored in social studies using Exploring Where and Why.
- The newly revised Health and Family Life Education units from Health Promotion Wave incorporate popular picture books and encourage student participation thorough scenarios, dramatizations, songs and games.
- Mount Daniel began a Spanish Language Program for young children in the fall of 2006. This program is integrated within the curriculum in areas of science, social studies, and language arts.
- An Outdoor Classroom has been part of the Mount Daniel program and provides a year-round living laboratory for students to explore. Students have had opportunities to plant a fall garden, plant tulips in the Journey North Program, and observe the seasonal changes in a beautiful dogwood tree in the school yard. An Outdoor Master Plan was designed and, with the support of PTA funds, the school has implemented many new features for exploration on the school grounds.
During the primary grades the academic environment expands as children become more comfortable and confident with their own skills and knowledge. A rich variety of learning experiences is presented as children transition to from preschool to kindergarten to first grade.
A DVD about the school's full day kindergarten program is available for loan at the Mount Daniel office.