Lower School (Preschool-First Grade)

Kindergarten (5/6s)

At Bank Street, our teachers rely on their deep knowledge of child development to build hands-on learning experiences for children ages 5 and 6 and a strong classroom community grounded in positive, trusting relationships.

Where are 5- and 6-year-olds developmentally?

Below are a few examples of documented behaviors and capacities of 5- and 6-year-olds that inspire the foundation for our kindergarten program, in which children continue to learn through creative play and by approaching age-appropriate concepts in core subject areas that will prepare them for future learning. Our teachers recognize that each child develops in their own way and at their own pace, and understand how to individualize learning to leverage the strengths and experiences of each student.

  • Behaviors and Capacities of 5- and 6-Year-Olds


    5- and 6-year-olds often…

    • Are curious and motivated to learn through self-discovery and by hearing new ideas and asking questions
    • Want to share what they like and have seen or experienced and want to recreate it using blocks, visual art, or acting it out
    • Can include more detail in art projects when encouraged to work more slowly by adults
    • Enjoy games, poems, riddles, jokes, and songs that the whole class can play together, and may be comfortable with a busy level of noise and activity


    5- and 6-year-olds often…

    • Want to practice using their hands and fingers as tools for counting, maneuvering, balancing, and pouring
    • Enjoy being active in short spurts inside and outside
    • Feel comfortable standing up while working


    5- and 6-year-olds often…

    • Are simultaneously anxious and ambitious when starting projects, and may be sensitive to criticism
    • Care a great deal for their friends and may be eager to have a close friend
    • Enjoy playing, working, and collaborating in groups
    • Are increasingly interested by the events and interactions at school

    Note: The patterns above are research-based and draw on the experience of Bank Street teachers and those that were documented for each age by Chip Wood in Yardsticks (Wood, Chip. Yardsticks: Child and Adolescent Development Ages 4 – 14. Center for Responsive Schools, Inc.; 4th edition, January 2, 2018)

How does our kindergarten (5/6s) program support your child’s development?

  • Program Overview

    Child hanging upside down from jungle gym

    Program Overview:

    The kindergarten (5/6s) program encourages children to learn through experiences as they begin their journey in elementary school. Our child-centered curriculum introduces concepts in mathematics and literacy while focusing on core themes like community and culture.

    The formative year of kindergarten offers children a strong foundation in how to relate to the people, materials, and environment within their private school community on New York City’s Upper West Side. In our full-day program, young learners begin to expand their worldview and discover how to interact with others in a shared space.

    Social and emotional development is an important focus of our curriculum. Children are encouraged to think about concepts like fairness and equality through their interactions with one another. An appreciation of different cultures is woven into everyday learning, in music, stories, and class discussion.

    Our curriculum encourages children to ask why, to form connections, and to pursue their interests. We embrace each child’s unique way of thinking and recognize that children learn by both exploring and observing their environments. Instruction is tailored to individual interests and abilities, so children start their academic journey with confidence.

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  • Literacy, Library & Language


    Librarian reading to childrenOur curriculum begins to hone its focus on literacy skills beginning in the 5/6s program. Recognizing that there are many ways to support literacy development, each day includes language, reading, and writing activities. Children learn through classroom instruction and through real-time application.

    Using Fundations, children are explicitly taught phonics skills in a systemic progression so they are learning the foundational skills to be strong readers and writers. Children enjoy books from various genres and formats and are prompted to make connections with the characters or subjects.

    In the 5/6s, children are encouraged to begin handwriting, writing words as they sound. As they begin to learn to spell and write, the focus for this age group is for children to find motivation and feel encouraged to try.


    Kindergartners build their verbal and visual literacy skills and library utilization skills during their scheduled visits to the library with their teachers.  During read-alouds with the librarian, 5/6s practice making meaning of a story by understanding the interplay of words and images–building a story arc, understanding character motivations, “filling in” words or concepts based on the pictures, etc.  They also practice responding to the story by making predictions, evaluating characters’ feelings, etc.  They build on similar skills learned in the 3/4s and 4/5, with progressively more complex words, sentences, and story structures.


    Our main goal in the 5/6s Spanish program is to is to expose the students to simple vocabulary and routine phrases. Our emphasis is placed on communication. We strive to develop our students’ receptive and expressive language. The teacher welcomes every effort made by the student to use and understand the language. We offer different strategies to help with understanding, such as gestures, prompts, and shorter sentences. We make sure to only use the target language around the students with minimal or no translation.

  • Math, Science & Technology


    Child cutting cardboard with pliersThe spirited energy of a group of 5- and 6-year-olds does not lend itself to sitting still. Fortunately, neither does our kindergarten math and science curriculum. Every day we seek to spark the inquisitive minds of the 5/6s through engaging, hands-on learning.

    You won’t find students in the kindergarten room sitting in silence completing math worksheets. Instead, a math lesson might arise from a simple question in morning meeting: “Who has fruit in their lunch today?” With the resulting data, the teacher might create a graph to visually represent the information. With a focus on experiential learning and critical thinking, our math and science curriculum is both student-focused and engaging.


    We encourage children to ask questions and follow their curiosities as they begin to shape their own investigative processes. Activities might include studying the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly or cooking different types of eggs as an experiment. Children are taught to ask “why?” through a variety of subjects and experiences.

    The 5/6s begin the year with a study of Monarch Butterflies. The Monarchs arrive in larvae form, almost too small to identify, and they immediately spark the inquiry process. 5/6s start to use the language of scientists predicting what the animals are and what will happen to them. As a class, the children discuss what it means to study something and how to go about doing it. From their ideas about the studying process, the class gathers books, observes closely with magnifying glasses and through drawing, and continues to gather information. While they learn about the life cycle of a monarch and how to care for their animals, the learning is not so much about the what as it is the how. The ideas they generate for how to study something serves as a foundation for further inquiry over the course of the year. Children will continue to question the world around them and look to the research elements they learn while studying the Monarchs to serve them in future endeavors. Whether the class is observing or caring for a classroom pet, planting on deck, or looking closely at our classroom composting system, they are following their curiosities and making use of the tools available to them throughout their investigative process.


    Lower School learners use audio technology to share stories and songs. Images and videos are available to address students’ needs, such as showing information about a destination for a student’s family trip. Teachers and students work together to create printed materials for student and class projects.

  • Art


    Student smiling while molding clayArt in the 5/6s program is rooted in creative discovery and freedom of expression. Children grow and develop during weekly art instruction from our Art Specialist. Throughout the year, children are encouraged to explore different materials, including collage, paint, and clay.

    In each lesson, the art teacher presents a “motivation”—a question designed to spark thinking about a certain material. For example, a teacher might ask “How can you combine these rectangles to make an animal?” as a motivation. Learning about how materials work together and seeking answers promotes children’s growing ability to form connections within their world.

  • Music & Movement


    Child playing drumsBank Street’s Lower School music program introduces musical concepts and skills in a fun, engaging environment. Children are frequently exposed to music—in the classroom, at special events, and in formal music group settings. Children learn through making music, rather than simply learning about music.

    In the 5/6s classroom, children have access to a diverse assortment of drums and percussion instruments. We encourage group singing and rhythmic movement through activities like song-games and dance. Developmentally, many children in the 5/6s can create and imitate a steady beat. Classroom dance helps promote experimentation with rhythmic movements such as skipping, tiptoeing, galloping, leaping, and freezing.

    Music is embedded into weekly lessons and integrated with celebrations and special events. Children learn essential cooperation skills by learning to dance and sing songs during seasonal festivities.


    The purpose of Movement classes in the 5/6’s is to facilitate creativity, imagination, risk-taking, and confidence through the exploration of movement concepts: space, time, and energy. Through movement, students integrate the brain and body, developing balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.

    In addition to movement concepts and awareness of body in space, our movement classes allow children to experience themselves as individual dancers, as partners, and as members of a group. In all of these formats, dancers use their imagination to express themselves and their understanding of the world.

  • Physical Education

    Physical Education:

    Child playing soccer in gymGym games and activities are often a highlight for our energetic 5/6s. An integral component of our focus on the whole child, our physical education program is designed to promote social and emotional skills, teamwork, and problem-solving.

    Each season offers a new theme with new skills. The 5/6s participate in engaging games like “Wall Tag” or “Musical Hula Hoops.” Children practice and develop gross motor skills like running, skipping, and galloping through a variety of interactive activities and games. Our facilities include gym equipment like scooters, parachutes, tunnels, and balance beams and always offer children something new and engaging.

    Class activities are constantly changing according to new skills of focus and, of course, New York City weather. Our gym educators provide opportunities for children to learn a variety of skills in conjunction with our overarching curriculum.

Students working together

Social Justice and Advocacy

In early childhood, social justice lives and breathes in children’s interactions. In the 5/6s, children are developmentally focused on fairness, with regard to peers, the school, and grown-ups. This year, we empower students to be advocates for themselves through discovery of their own identity.
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