This SFUSD kindergarten instructional guidance is organized into four sections: Culture of Learning, Academic Ownership, Essential Content, and Demonstration of Learning. We recommend you explore the four sections so you have a sense of what is available here and then focus on the Culture of Learning section for the start of the year. There you will find guidance on the development of 5 and 6-year-olds, setting up your classroom, building family partnerships, and launching the school year. For content-specific guidance go to Essential Content.
Our intention here is to provide an overview of kindergarten instruction and make the information easily accessible. This is not a scripted manual - Kindergarten instruction is more complex and nuanced than these pages alone can illustrate. Still, there is a lot of information here that we believe will be supportive. Please do not feel compelled to dive into this website all at once. Please use it as a resource throughout the year as needed. This guide is one piece of the puzzle; your partnerships with students, fellow teachers, coaches, families, administrators, sites, and departments are all essential to supporting you in creating a learning environment where every day we provide each and every student with the quality instruction and equitable support required to thrive.
The Instructional Guidance Team
Each and every student comes to the classroom with a wealth of strengths and lived experiences along with specific developmental assets, and needs. These constitute the root that instruction should be informed by and grow from. Honoring these roots, cultivate an environment where your kindergarten students can tap into their joy for learning and nurture it with their classmates.
Support them to deeply engage in their learning by modeling, scaffolding, and providing ample opportunities to freely ask questions, openly explore and share their thinking, provide and use feedback, and ask for help when needed. Support each student to develop and demonstrate a sense of ownership for their own learning and that of their classmates - growing a sense of shared responsibility for academic and non-academic routines, procedures, and expectations throughout their Kindergarten experience.
Five-year-olds take in the world through their senses. They see, smell, touch, hear, and taste just about everything – one thing after another, but only one thing at a time. They’ll squat down quietly to watch that butterfly for as long as it pauses in flight. Learning is at its best for fives when it is both structured and exploratory: structured through a clear and predictable schedule, exploratory through carefully constructed areas where they can initiate their own active discoveries through play – the vital work of the five-year-old.
Although fives are just beginning to learn empathy and still see things primarily from their own point of view, social relationships matter very much to them. They love exploring the real world with other Fives by making believe they’re teachers, family caregivers, astronauts, or firefighters. Dressing up and playing with puppets add to the fun. Five-year-olds adore and care a great deal about pleasing significant adults. Fives expect and need adults to create safe boundaries and tell them what is happening next, where they're going, and whether they're there yet.
As they move through their sixth year, many children begin a growth spurt and become ever more ready to take on their widening world with growing self-confidence. Older fives may test the rules at home and at school, stretch themselves to see what they can do on their own, and sometimes stretch the truth. They begin to care more about figuring things out for themselves than about getting answers (and behavior) exactly right – a main focus when they were just a bit younger.
When we give kindergarteners clear and simple expectations and choices, offer plenty of time to play, marvel with them at the world, and tune in to the wonder of their changing minds and bodies, they can grow into joyous inventors, creators, and problem-solvers, at school and throughout their lives.
The Core Four
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This page was last updated on May 22, 2023