Overview

Our PreKindergarten program starts with our youngest RIS students—our 2-year-olds. RIS is proud of our brand new PreK 2 facilities, comprising three repurposed houses, each designed to mimic a home with purpose-specific rooms and common areas. This helps to give the students a gentle introduction to school in a warm and welcoming environment. From PreK 2 our students move to the main elementary building for PreK 3 and PreK 4, where a smooth transition is guaranteed in our newly renovated classrooms designed specifically for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Early Childhood is a very specialized area within education, requiring very special teachers. All of our PreK teachers are certified and trained in Early Childhood education. Each grade level (PreK 2, 3, and 4) has a certified Early Childhood Special Educator on its team as well as Instructional Aides, and they all assist in meeting the children’s developmental needs. Teachers are trained in the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and continue to study with ongoing professional development. RIS believes in a low teacher-to-student ratio, and this is especially important for our PreKindergarten students. PreK 2 classrooms are limited to 12 students with 3 adults in each room. PreK 3 classrooms are limited to 12 students with 2 adults in each room, and PreK 4 is limited to 14 students with 2 adults in each room.

Philosophy and Curriculum

The Early Childhood program at RIS reflects the Reggio Emilia approach in its belief that all children have an interest in constructing their own knowledge and that they interact with everything the environment brings to them. Our teachers follow the children’s interests to shape the units of investigation. Each group of students is unique, with unique interests, and so while the content may vary from year to year, it follows a learning and development continuum based on Early Childhood standards.

Our PreK curriculum is based on the District of Columbia’s Common Core Early Learning Standards that define what preschool children should know and be able to do before they enter kindergarten. These Early Learning standards direct teachers’ instructional planning through developmentally appropriate guidelines that meet our children at their current developmental stage. 

A Typical Day

A typical day in PreKindergarten starts with a warm welcome from the teachers and children saying goodbye to their families as they begin their transition from home to school. Each classroom has a series of morning routines that children have been learning since their first day of school. These may include exploring a variety of learning encounters organized by the teacher to guide children’s thinking. Once they have settled into the classroom, the children and their teachers gather to have a morning meeting. This is an important part of the day as it brings the classroom community together and offers a moment for direct instruction.

Lessons include literacy, math, and social and emotional topics that might come up in their young lives. Lessons are presented through hands-on demonstrations, purposeful  visuals, and lots of singing. Students then choose and rotate through interest centers—role-play, writing, science exploration, light and shadows, and construction, to name a few. Our PreK 3 and 4 children also attend specialist classes throughout the week including music, art, computers, library, physical education, and Thai. Students have a healthy snack in the morning and eat lunch in our separate canteen purposely built for our youngest students. The day ends with nap time in the classroom and an afternoon snack before returning home.