Lower School


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We have three homeroom sections in kindergarten — each section has a lead teacher and an associate teacher to ensure personalized attention. Classes range from 12-14 students with attention paid to helping our youngest learners build successful learning habits, create friendships and begin their educational journey.

Our social-emotional learning curriculum focuses on friendships, courage, ways to make a difference, and how to be an ally. Students learn to discuss their feelings and how to handle various social situations through role-play, conversation, and strategies from the Toolbox Project curriculum.

Kindergarten Academic Snapshots

List of 3 items.

  • Language Arts

    In kindergarten, students develop a foundation in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Instruction is differentiated for each individual student to meet their learning needs. 
    Reading instruction begins with phonemic awareness (the manipulation of sounds), phonics, and word study work (decoding and spelling words). Students read one-on-one, in small groups, and in whole-group settings while learning strategies that include: tracking, using sight words, and picture cues, stretching out words, and beginning comprehension skills. 
    Writing instruction begins with fine motor strength, letter formation, and learning how to generate topics and record ideas. Students explore fiction and non-fiction genres ranging from “how-to” books, persuasive letters, poetry, journaling, and story writing. Workshop time provides readers and writers opportunities for creativity, 1:1 instruction, and authentic assessment.
    Listening and speaking skills are a focus of development throughout the year. From presenting their own work, and sharing with the class, to gaining confidence in presentation skills kindergarteners learn to interact in both prepared and impromptu discussions. 
  • Math

    In kindergarten, our goal is to develop mathematical thinkers with a strong number sense and a flexible approach to solving problems. The math program emphasizes exploration and hands-on activities using manipulatives. This allows a kindergartener to develop a concrete understanding of number sense, geometry, measurement, and data collection. From exciting daily counting routines to milestones like the 100th day of school, students gain confident math identities. Kindergartners learn multiple problem-solving strategies and are asked to show and explain how they arrive at given answers. 
    Each curriculum unit focuses on an area of content in-depth, providing time for students to develop and practice ideas across a variety of activities and contexts that build on each other. Students learn and practice skills in dynamic work settings, playing games and hearing each others’ strategies for solving problems.
  • Social Studies

    In kindergarten, students focus on similarities and differences so that they can be positive members of our community, valuing diversity and inclusion. From learning the origin of our names to honoring individual students’ interests during "Person of the Week", we celebrate each kindergartener.

    Students explore a variety of topics such as family configuration, gender, race, and physical differences. The social-emotional learning curriculum includes friendship, courage, ways to make a difference, a growth mindset, and how to be an ally. The students learn to discuss their feelings and how to handle various social situations through role-play, conversation, and strategies from the Toolbox curriculum.

Specialist Programs

List of 6 items.

  • Art

    Kindergarten students are introduced to the elements of art (line, color, shape, pattern, texture, and size) through various pre-planned and emergent projects. Exploring abstract artists who utilize the elements in their work. Experimenting with different materials and techniques such as cutting, gluing, collage making, clay modeling, drawing, and painting. Students are introduced to color theory by mixing primary into secondary and tertiary colors as well as using white and black to make tints and shades. 
    Students participate in “gallery walks” where they learn to articulate the meaning behind their art and give constructive feedback to one another. They receive a personal sketchbook, where they “free-draw", and do sketching exercises to build skills and an understanding of artistic concepts.
  • Library

    Students learn how to use the Library by checking out books using the barcode on their library cards. They also learn how to use their library cards as shelf markers to keep our space tidy.  
    Throughout the year, they explore various genres (picture books, folktales, and nonfiction) and make connections to their background knowledge. Students also participate in author/illustrator studies. They learn about digital citizenship through the Commonsense Media curriculum. They also review key concepts such as numbers, letters, and shapes.
  • Makery

    The curricular themes for kindergartners emerge from their work in both core and special classes. In the Makery, they use various tools and materials to create products, practice skills, or represent concepts learned in all their classes. As they make, the students practice the skills of attention, perseverance, and flexibility, which help them develop creative confidence.

    Makery projects are often integrated with the work the students do in other classes, for additional relevance and resonance. Students can drop into the Makery before school and during recess if they choose to work informally on individual projects.
  • Music

    How do I help make the circle? How can I move safely AND joyfully? How many ways can I play a pair of sticks, a drum, a tambourine? How can I make my voice softer, louder, higher, lower? What am I hearing? Do I want to lead? Can I say yes to a new partner?

    Kindergarteners explore music through a variety of games, percussion instruments, folk dances, stories, and listening selections. The music curriculum weaves readiness for music reading with learning the conventions of group ensemble participation. Additionally, they join in the community singing and dances that are a vital part of weekly Lower School assemblies; celebrations of Halloween, Diwali, and Thanksgiving; a joyous, inclusive LS Holiday Sing Along; and the other many spontaneous gatherings throughout the year. 
    Kindergarteners are folded into the Burke’s community with song by the whole school at the Opening Assembly each September, and parents are similarly welcomed shortly after at the joyful Lower School Picnic, filled with folk dances and fun, led by Lower School Music Teacher.
  • Physical Education

    The Lower School physical education program is designed to teach students the value of movement from a variety of disciplines. Lessons are structured with a goal of preparing a solid movement foundation for students’ transition to Upper School Physical Education. 
    Kindergartners explore how they move in the world around them through exploration and guided discovery, key elements of the program. Every class has a consistent warm-up routine that involves components of physical fitness such as flexibility, aerobic strength, and muscular strength.
  • Science

    Kindergarten science focuses on the questions “What is science?” and “How can we be scientists?” Hands-on units focus on topics from the students’ everyday lives, such as the senses, plants, bridges, and bugs. Over the course of the year, they practice skills such as observation, asking questions, tinkering, and communicating their ideas with drawing, speaking, and beginning writing.

    To give a glimpse into the science room, here is an example unit from kindergarten:
    Kindergartners investigate the tiny creatures that live in our gardens and backyards. Using books, models, and - most excitingly - live animals, we study worms, ladybugs, roly-polies, and crickets. We learn about the life cycles and anatomy of these animals, looking for similarities and differences and learning to categorize animals into groups such as insects and spiders. An important skill to this unit is scientific drawing. Kindergartners practice using careful observation to make accurate drawings that can teach someone about what they saw. This unit also provides a chance to begin simple experimental design, and kindergartners come up with their own experiments to find out what worms like and dislike by changing one variable at a time.

Kindergarten Faculty

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of Dynelle Chan

    Dynelle Chan 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 318
  • Photo of Valerie Hansel

    Valerie Hansel 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 313
  • Photo of Zach Swan

    Zach Swan 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 330
  • Photo of Kathryn McDonald

    Kathryn McDonald 

    Associate Teacher
    415-751-0187, ext. 247
  • Photo of Sofia Silva

    Sofia Silva 

    Associate Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 265
  • Photo of Colby Waggle

    Colby Waggle 

    Associate Teacher
    415-751-0187, ext. 341
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.
Burke's admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.