With an emphasis on instilling a love of learning—while strengthening each child’s skills and work habits—the children participate in meaningful learning experiences. The cognitive, social, emotional, physical, moral, and aesthetic aspects of each child’s development are addressed by sensitive and experienced teachers in the daily implementation of the curriculum.
The children learn to work cooperatively with one another, to share, to assert themselves constructively, to respect others, and to honor established standards for classroom behavior. They are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences with both teachers and peers. They assume leadership roles and gain increasing responsibility as they learn to recognize the needs of others, to help one another, and to value the importance of individual contributions to the cooperative endeavor.
While young children flourish in an environment that is creative and dynamic, Key’s First School recognizes that a child’s experiences must be balanced with consistency and predictability. Therefore, the weekly schedule in the First School is designed to provide a variety of activities within a framework that imposes a routine. Activities range from whole group to small group to individual, and from teacher-directed to child-chosen. Further variety is achieved by changing the setting as the students gather in their classroom, on the playground, and in other Key School facilities including the gymnasium, the library, and the music studio. The daily structure and the sequence of activities in each class are established to help the children learn their routine and develop the level of security that is born out of the ability to anticipate.
Each First School class has circle time, story time, center time, snack, and recess. Children engage in active learning experiences through thematic units of study that integrate academic disciplines across the curriculum. Classes in science, music, life skills, physical education, and library are also part of the First Schoolers' regular schedule and are taught by specialized Key School faculty. In addition, First School students work on collaborative projects, use classroom computers, attend assemblies, take field trips, and work in their class gardens.
The Kindergarten program is full-day. Key-Wee, Pre-School and Pre-Kindergarten students who stay at Key through the afternoon remain in their classrooms with their teachers. Their schedule, beginning with lunch followed by recess, again provides consistency while allowing the children to choose from a number of activities.
With an understanding of the developmental needs of the individual student, the First School program nourishes and guides each child’s natural curiosity and exuberance while instilling a love of learning and a respect for others. First School students, inspired by their teachers and the values of the Key community, embark on a journey of discovery that forms the foundation for the work in Key’s Lower School.