University School of Milwaukee’s Preschool journey continues for 4- and 5-year-old students in junior kindergarten. Our junior kindergartners are just beginning to find their own unique voices and personalities, and also starting to see themselves as part of a larger community of learners. Each school day begins with a morning meeting for children to share stories and set the day's agenda with their teachers. Academic learning is infused into play and exploration, with students becoming confident young children.
Options for both full-day and morning-only programs allow teachers to meet children where they are in their educational journey. As their confidence builds, our junior kindergarten students—with the help of teachers, 2nd grade “buddies,” and others in the school—begin to advocate more for themselves. Along with new skills, creativity and character begin to develop in these children as they become more comfortable in this safe and caring environment. Through strong relationships with their teachers and classmates, these children begin to take more risks, as they prepare for the transitional kindergarten year ahead and the more formal introduction of academic programming.
The junior kindergarten curriculum in USM’s Preschool combines core subjects integrated into the school day as well as additional classes taught by specialist instructors. Visual arts, led by the classroom teacher, are an important part of the junior kindergarten classroom experience.
Subject-area student outcomes are an important part of how our curriculum is developed and how our students are evaluated. The following lists, broken out by subject area, provide some examples of student outcomes for the end of the junior kindergarten year.
In junior kindergarten, children enjoy discovering USM’s 125-acre campus and all that it has to offer—including incredible indoor spaces like the theatre, art gallery, greenhouse, and makerspaces, as well as outdoor spaces such as the outdoor classroom, nature trails, wooded areas, gardens, and ponds—but also begin to venture off campus for field trips and other exciting exploration opportunities.
As they learn about various forms of transportation, even the new adventure of riding the USM school bus is part of the fun. Junior kindergarteners enjoy studying pond life and everything else that the nearby Lynden Sculpture Garden has to offer. They also travel to Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful’s facilities as they learn about recycling, reusing, and renewing and how they can do their part to help the environment. Other on-campus activities, like the Preschool Fall Festival, Winter Sing, and other in-the-classroom activities, are also highlights of the junior kindergarten experience.