Early Learning Programs (Pre-K and Kindergarten)


Early Learning (PK and K)   Primary Grades (1 and 2)   Intermediate Grades (3-5)   Middle School (6-8)    Learning Environment   Academic Excellence   Individualized Learning


Early Learning Programs (PreK and Kindergarten)

Literacy Development

LepreK alphabetarning to read and write is essential to a child’s success in school and in life. St. Mary’s School recognizes that literacy begins early in life, not just in kindergarten. Drawing upon their natural curiosity, children need frequent exposure to books; opportunities to draw, write, pretend, and represent what they know in different ways; and direct instruction in recognizing letters and connecting letters with sounds. Our classrooms are filled with resources that enable us to build on each child’s prior knowledge and create formal and informal experiences that help each child progress at his/her developmental pace. Comprehensive assessment is used to identify a child’s strengths, needs, and interests and to tailor our program with structured activities and explicit, multi-sensory instruction. Teachers work in partnership with families to help each child to be successful and to be prepared for future school experiences and life outside of school.

Essential Areas of English Language Arts Curriculum

Based on Diocese of Knoxville English/Language Arts Guided Course of Study and Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards (2012)

  • Print Concepts
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Word Recognition
  • Exploring fiction and nonfiction texts and discussing in age-appropriate ways
  • Writing for different purposes
  • Speaking about school and personal interest topics using Standard English
  • Actively listening to others
  • Word study – alphabet, letters sounds, sight words, vocabulary

Mathematical Understanding

preK mathAt St. Mary’s School, teachers recognize that children have a natural interest in mathematics and how it fits into the world around them. Our children have the opportunity to actively explore and construct mathematical understanding through direct instruction, hands-on investigation, and integration of math ideas with other content areas. Classroom activities encourage the development of problem-solving and reasoning skills and explore different methods of communicating, connecting, and representing mathematical ideas. The goal within our early childhood classrooms is to build a strong foundation in mathematical concepts and a positive attitude toward mathematics that will carry forward with our students in their future school experiences.

Essential Areas of Mathematics CurriculumP3 math

Based on state and national math standards and Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards (2012)

  • Know number names and the count sequence.
  • Count to tell the number of objects.
  • Compare numbers.
  • Understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart and taking from.
  • Describe and compare measurable attributes.
  • Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.
  • Identify and describe shapes (squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres).
  • Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.


monarchsExploring the natural world is an important part of the school’s early learning program.

Children in early childhood are active and eager learners. Science instruction at St. Mary’s School takes place in the primary science lab, where students are encouraged through thematic units to engage their senses to observe, explore, and experiment in order to gain a sense of the physical world and our interactions within it.  Children begin to learn how to ask questions and make predictions through an active engagement with classroom materials that include simple tools of science. These rich experiences develop the foundation for St. Mary’s strong program in science.

Essential Science Experiences (from Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards 2012)

exploring trees

  • Ask questions and make predictions based on observations through active engagement with materials.
  • Use simple tools for investigation of the home, classroom and other familiar places.
  • Observe and describe characteristics of earth and space.
  • Observe and describe characteristics of living things.
  • Acquire knowledge about the physical properties of the world.

Social Studies

kindergarten whole classIn the early childhood classrooms, children begin to develop an understanding of the roles, rights, and responsibilities that children and adults have within the home, school, and community at large. They participate in the group life of the class by following rules and routines, doing classroom jobs, expressing concern for others, and developing positive relationships with their peers. Students also have the opportunity to explore aspects of different cultures, traditions, and ways of life in the past and present.

Essential Social Studies Concepts

(from Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards 2012)100th day

  • Develop an understanding of how people and things change over time.
  • Demonstrate awareness of different cultures through exploration of customs and traditions, past and present.
  • Demonstrate an interest in current events which relate to family, culture, and community.
  • Recognize that all children and adults have roles, rights, and responsibilities at home, school, in the classroom and in the community.
  • Develop awareness about a wide variety of careers and work environments.

Whole Child Perspective

At St. Mary’s School teachers recognize that all children develop at different rates and have differing abilities and interests. Our approach to education looks at the whole child, not the sum of discrete academic areas. In addition to direct academic instruction in the content areas and religion, students attend weekly classes in art, music, library, technology, and physical education. These experiences supplement the cross-curricular approach that we follow in our early childhood classrooms.

Creativity Development

(from Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards 2012)

  • Express self and represent what he/she knows, thinks, believes, and feels through visual arts.
  • Express self by engaging in musical activities.
  • Express feelings of what is felt and heard through dance or creative movement.
  • Participate in a variety of dramatic play activities (teacher guided or child initiated) to represent fantasy and real life experiences.

parachutePhysical Development

(from Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards 2012)Use senses to assist and guide learning; using sensory information to plan and carry out movements.

  • Demonstrate coordination and control of large muscles.
  • Demonstrate eye-hand coordination and dexterity needed to manipulate objects.
  • Demonstrate personal care and hygiene skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness and understanding of healthy habits (e.g., sufficient rest, nutritious foods, exercise).
  • Demonstrate awareness and understanding of safety rules.

Social-Emotional Development best buddies

(from Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards 2012)

  • Self-Concept
  • Relationship with Adults
  • Relationship with Peers – develop positive relationships with peers
  • Regulate own response to needs, feelings, and events
  • Understand and follow rules and routines