At St. Paul’s School, the structure and organisation of Kindergarten comprises all the specifications of a bilingual education. As such, from the age of three the English Language is emphasized on a daily basis, focusing on important communicative skills and universal means of access which lead the child to develop essential abilities including sharing, kindness and acceptance of the surrounding world both in Portuguese and in English.
During this stage of development, in Kindergarten the child’s relationships and social universe is gradually formed. The pleasure felt in discovery and in gaining knowledge is stimulated, be it through activities carried out within the school or with outings and field trips to parks, museums, theatres, etc.
Experiences within a group are crucial at this stage, when values such as cooperation, mutual assistance and concern for others’ well being are principals which are constantly present in our work ethic, thus contributing to the development of various capacities. These promote a continuous learning process which is creative, transforming, sociable and scientific, whilst respecting universal moral values, including solidarity, dignity, citizenship and mutual tolerance.
We have adopted a conscientiously inclusive programme by following a work method which comprises various guidelines, all of which encourage different aspects of development (cognitive, linguistic, emotional, affectionate, relational and social, psychomotor, artistic, creative). These provide children with dynamic and active experiences in a happy and stimulating environment, which lead to full development and promising academic success, whilst promoting an increasing autonomy and sense of responsibility, which encourage individual capacities, as well as a balanced education and development of the child’s full potential.
Important changes take place in terms of cognition: symbolic thought processes and language skills evolve as forms of expression and communication increase in number and complexity. This evolution is shown and encouraged in games, together with individual and group activities which develop the child’s observation skills, trains the memory, exercises intelligence and logic, develops imagination and emotion, in addition to intensifying and expanding social relationships amongst the children. Activities which enhance the learning and development of the Portuguese and English languages also promote the logical sequencing of facts, giving a sense of order, clarifying thought processes, whilst stabilising and increasing the child’s vocabulary, giving meaning and form to oral expressions and language.
The relationship between family and the school is greatly valued, as it enriches the ties between the child, family and the school. Through constant communication and cooperation between parents and the school, a coherent approach to learning is achieved, together with a high standard of education for all our students.
At St. Paul’s School, it is our conviction that Kindergarten should encourage our children, since the very beginning, to be true protagonists in their lives, so that in the future, they may become active and conscientious citizens, reaching their full potential and acquiring the necessary competencies in order to become independent, compassionate and content members of society.
With this in mind, guidelines concerning the teaching of children advocate the development of formal, artistic and fun activities, simultaneously with interpersonal relationships and meaningful content, guiding the child in the construction of knowledge and personal discovery.
Kindergarten has 6 classrooms with activities, multipurpose spaces, specific rooms for music, a gymnasium, interior and exterior sports fields, computer laboratory, a fully equipped playground and a variety of teaching material, all of which are appropriate for a healthy and overall development of the child.
There are also rooms where treatment / observation / screening are carried out by a team of psychologists whenever the teaching staff or parents consider this necessary.
It is an area dedicated to socialization and a space where the child may learn from other children from different backgrounds and cultures, thus learning to relate to the surrounding world.
In more specific terms, the learning process includes two activities: one is intrinsic to the child who is learning, the knowledge of things; the other is [external?], the practise of dexterity, ability and technique which start the student in the area of learning how to carry out various tasks.
In accordance with the Educational Project, the school encourages an adequate teaching method, which aims to:
- Promote the acquisition of critical thinking and the assimilation of moral, aesthetic, civic and spiritual values, through which the child may build references, rules and limits, rights and duties;
- Encourage education for citizenship;
- Create a learning environment in which the child is valued and heard, contributing to their well being and self-esteem, contributing to an increasing sense of autonomy;
- Encourage independence, advocating freedom of choice, promoting decision making skills, allowing for the use of a wide range of materials, exploring space and time;
- Making the child responsible for their own active participation in the daily tasks;
- Accept and promote an intercultural education, including tolerance for the differences in other cultures and backgrounds;
- Educate about personal and collective hygiene, instilling healthy eating and hygiene habits;
- Allow easy access to technology as a means of communication;
- Raise awareness of physical characteristics in oneself, in others and in their potential;
- Provide exercises that promote global and fine motor skills;
- Encourage symbolic games which involve the body and relating to others;
- Acquire notions of space and time;Develop logical mathematical concepts;
- Stimulate the child’s curiosity and desire to learn;
- Encourage the child to observe, experiment and question.
This criteria has different applications according to the student’s age and preparation: in the first years / levels, observation, exploration and manipulation of concrete objects; later on, investigation, experimentation and interdisciplinary relations; and throughout, individual and group work.
The child’s motor skills evolve and, as such, the child becomes ready to start practicing sport and other forms of physical expression.
From the very beginning, these forms of expression are encouraged, as they are a source of pleasure and personal fulfillment, contributing to the development of their abilities. For this reason, our extracurricular activities include Infant Motor Skills, Musical Expression, Arts and Crafts Ateliers and Computing. Kindergarten values observation and understanding of the surrounding environment as means of raising the child’s awareness in terms of ecology, as well as becoming aware of him or herself, his or her own body and hygiene, and how to defend his or her own health and that of others.
It is in the pursuit of this principal that the school’s Education Project allows for the process of learning linguistic and mathematical codes, by means of the ‘Graphomotricity Project’
Reading, writing and mathematics are part of the child’s everyday life, which gradually gain a structure making it possible to transform these codes into logical and analytical thought processes. The child understands that writing allows for the recollection of what was said and done, with specific rules which he will gradually decipher and apply until dominating the ability to read and write. The child will also acquire the capacity to develop his or her mathematical thinking through various exercises with calculation and logical reasoning. With this project, the child develops hand-eye coordination, the notion of uniformity and confidence in drawing, all of which are essential requirements for the development of their handwriting, a global understanding of numbers and functions, as well as their application in mathematics.
The introduction to computing in the Kindergarten syllabus is more than a tool for the future, it is an object of knowledge. We believe that this skill allows for a different approach to using different strategies and different forms of thinking and learning by child – our students.
Essentially, we aim to encourage a harmonious and complete development of the child in terms of cognition, in addition to the ability to deal with his / her own interior world (emotions), whilst valuing the child’s personal education and moral and intellectual principals.
Evaluation of the Educational Project – as a diagnostic process, this functions as a necessary instrument that allows a constant reflection and evolution of the instruments and strategies implemented, which aim for the increasing quality and excellence of the teaching methods used.
The evaluation of our students is formalised with an official document issued every term and informally whenever the family requests it, in scheduled meetings with any of their child’s teachers.
The evalution of five-year-old students takes place in the third term and is administered by the school’s psychologist. This process evaluates the child’s level of maturity as they progress into Primary School.
The Psychology and Guidance Services (Serviço de Psicologia e Orientação – SPO), at St. Paul’s School carries out its work throughout the various levels taught at the school, from Kindergarten to the end of Junior Years.