The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Primary School


Kindergarten - The Journey Begins

We believe that nothing is more important than a child’s first school experience, and the small class size and individualized approach of Fay’s Kindergarten program helps each student to establish a strong foundation for a successful educational journey. Our classroom teachers focus on each child’s literacy, numeracy, science understanding, and social-emotional development, supported by a team of expert specialists who coordinate instruction in art, music, French, Spanish, and P.E. 

Fay's Kindergarten program also focuses on fostering children’s social and emotional growth as they learn to work in a group situation away from home. Kindergarten students work cooperatively and collaboratively to solve problems, explore, play, and learn. They build independence through self-directed work and activities. Inside and outside structured play helps them learn to navigate social relationships, explore personal interests, and develop interpersonal skills. Through a close-knit classroom community, students learn to follow agreed-upon rules as they become accustomed to the routines and procedures of the school environment. A family-style lunch also provides time for students to interact with classmates and teachers, supporting the development of peer relationships, manners, and communication skills.

Fay School begins in Kindergarten and serves children through ninth grade. Our state-of-the-art campus is located in Southborough, MA.

List of 11 items.

  • Mathematics

    Fay students begin to think like mathematicians early on, developing critical thinking skills and a passion for problem solving that leads many students to join our popular math travel teams in Upper School! 

    The Kindergarten mathematics program addresses five key strands: number and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement, and data analysis. In a hands-on, collaborative setting that emphasizes problem-solving and reasoning, Kindergarten students practice making connections and explain their reasoning using words, numbers, and pictures.

    Students who successfully complete the Kindergarten mathematics program will be able to demonstrate knowledge in the following categories:

    Number and Operations
    • Apply one-to-one correspondence
    • Skip counting
    • Recognize, read, and form numbers
    • Use manipulatives to express numbers and perform operations
    • Compute simple addition and subtraction problems
    • Use comparison vocabulary to compare quantities of objects

    • Use standard and non-standard tools of measurement
    • Describe and compare measurable attributes of objects

    • Identify and describe basic geometric shapes
    • Model shapes by building or drawing

    Data Analysis & Probability
    • Collect and show information in a bar graph
    • Use graphs to answer simple questions

    Algebraic Thinking
    • Identify, create, and extend simple patterns 
    • Represent addition and subtraction using pictures, words, or equations
  • Literacy

    Fay Kindergarteners begin their journey as readers and writers in a structured program that is differentiated for each child.  Daily literacy activities include read-alouds, group activities, hands-on projects, inquiry-based learning, and one-on-one coaching from homeroom teachers and literacy specialists. Phonics, spelling, and handwriting are a regular part of each day, and our phonemic awareness curriculum gives students the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in the spoken word, a key precursor to reading. Children practice writing in a range of genres, and classroom discussions about literature and ideas prepare students for Fay’s public speaking program, which begins formally in third grade.
    The goal of the Kindergarten language arts program is to foster a love of reading and literacy. Students are immersed in a print-rich environment, where they have ample opportunities to practice and strengthen literacy skills through read-alouds, small group work, whole group activities, hands-on projects, play, and inquiry-based learning. Phonics and phonemic awareness instruction is woven throughout the day and differentiated for each child to foster the development of sound-symbol correspondence. Students build reading comprehension and fluency skills through listening to stories, sequencing activities, working in small reading groups, and reading individualized books leveled according to their instructional needs.
    The Kindergarten writing program offers a systematic approach to the development of phonics, spelling, and handwriting skills. Students use inventive and phonetic spelling while participating in writing activities such as inquiry writing, personal writing, and play-based writing during dramatic play.  By doing so, they begin to build the independent skills necessary to study and understand new words. Students practice identifying letters and their sounds, including vowels and consonants, basic suffixes, blends, and digraphs. Students learn that each word contains a vowel, and they memorize basic, grade-level high-frequency words. Inventive spelling helps students build the habits of mind needed to segment words into letters and sounds and also segment sentences into words. Regular practice reinforces these habits.
  • Social Studies

    In Kindergarten social studies, students develop an understanding of how an individual fits into the larger community in terms of geography, history, and culture. Students explore the geography of the classroom and Fay School. Additionally, students spend time learning about the history of Fay and many of its traditions, including the named buildings found on campus as well as about the yearly color team competition for the Redmond Cup. They learn that everyone has a role to play in making a group work well and that each member brings something unique to the group. Students also explore the various roles people play and the diversity of the Fay School community as they learn about celebrations and traditions in other cultures represented in the Fay School community.

  • Science

    Kindergarten scientists discover scientific principles through inquiry, investigation, and research. They use their five senses to observe and identify different phenomena. They explore different habitats and their environmental factors. They also investigate different types of plants and learn about the life cycles of plants and animals. The Primary School’s science program is based on the  National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, and the spiraling curriculum means that students will explore these topics in greater depth in first and second grade to develop a rich and layered understanding. The children learn essential principles of observing and documenting, laying the groundwork for the work they will do in Lower and Upper School in our fully equipped science labs.
  • World Languages: Spanish and French

    Fay’s Primary School World Language program is based on the F.L.E.X. (Foreign Language Experience) approach. Fay Kindergarteners study both French and Spanish, each for half of the school year, and this schedule continues through first and second grade. For both Spanish and French, students in Kindergarten are introduced to basic greetings and daily expressions related to the classroom. They also learn descriptive adjectives, such as color, size, and feelings. They are exposed to basic vocabulary related to numbers 1-20, days of the week, body parts, shapes, and action verbs. Teachers use games, traditional Francophone and Hispanic literature, and nursery rhymes to teach and reinforce the classroom material. The classroom routine includes greetings, circle time for storytelling, play and songs, and art projects. Cultural celebrations are highlighted in the Kindergarten program, and the children learn and observe important cultural celebrations, including Mexico’s Días de los Muertos, Christmas in Latin America and Spain, Le poisson d’avril, and Mardi Gras. The children benefit from our “language helpers,” native and heritage speakers in the Upper School who volunteer in the classrooms and become the Kindergarteners’ mentors and friends.
  • Art

    In Art, which meets twice per six-day rotation, children develop fine motor skills and work in a range of media that includes paint, paper, clay, and textiles. Students explore the work of past and current artists and learn foundational skills that prepare them for the host of art electives available in the Upper School. Students experience the joy of sharing and exhibiting their work in on-campus shows as well as exhibits through Youth Art Month at the Worcester Art Museum. 

  • Music

    Music classes meet twice per six-day rotation and incorporate the Kodály method, which emphasizes singing, movement, listening, and games. Students engage with simple folk songs from around the world as well as masterworks such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Students learn about the many characteristics of music, including tempo, rhythm, volume, and pitch, in preparation for learning the formal notation in grade one and instrumental playing in Lower and Upper School, where students can sing in one of our five choral groups or play in our concert bands, string ensemble, or bell choir.
  • Creativity and Design

    Creativity and Design is integrated throughout the program in Primary School. Focusing on the Design Process (Find, Define, Ideate, Make, Evaluate), students build a foundation in design vocabulary, engage in productive struggle, and collaborate with peers and teachers. Students in Kindergarten focus on “How do materials impact design?” In Kindergarten, students learn to identify different materials, describe the properties of different materials, apply their understanding of the properties of different materials to ideate solutions to a problem, and construct, test, and evaluate their solutions.
  • Library

    In Kindergarten, children become familiar with the library through in-depth explorations of each of its various sections beginning with picture books and moving through poetry, folk tales, and fairy tales. Kindergarten students learn about the parts of a book, identifying the author and illustrator, and then practice locating the book in a particular section of the library. Kindergarteners also explore their personal interests, develop a sense of who they are as readers, and practice responsibility as they browse and select books to check out.

  • Physical Education

    P.E. classes meet three days out of a six-day rotation. Classes focus on developing motor skills and physical fitness, with activities that emphasize balance, spatial awareness, cooperation, and sportsmanship. The children also practice basic skills including throwing, catching, and kicking in preparation for Fay’s interscholastic athletics program, which begins in fifth grade.

  • Wellness

    The goal of the Kindergarten wellness program is for students to learn about themselves and how they relate to others. In addition to scheduled Wellness classes with members of the Wellness Department, classroom teachers set aside time each day to address important topics such as self-advocacy, independent problem solving with peers, effective vocabulary when resolving conflicts, basic social skills such as greeting one another, manners and other general social courtesy. Students practice mindfulness, learn to identify and talk about their feelings, and develop communication, self-control, and interpersonal problem-solving skills in a structured, safe, and consistent environment, guided by Wellness teachers. 

Some things we love about Kindergarten at Fay:

Our kindergarten students interact with a team of inspiring, supportive adults who are experts in their fields. This includes each student's classroom teachers as well as specialists in music, art, world languages, P.E., library, literacy, speech, and wellness. Find out why a great kindergarten teacher matters!
Our free and nutritious family-style lunch provides time for students to interact with classmates and teachers, supporting the development of peer relationships, manners, and communication skills. Our Head of Primary School starts each meal with a reflection and ends with announcements and opportunities for children to speak in front of their peers, whether it’s a rhyme for Poetry Wednesday or a trivia tidbit for Fun Fact Friday.
Don’t be surprised to see our Kindergarteners racing towards the Primary School entrance each morning. They can’t wait to say hello to Mrs. Knuppel, the Head of Primary School! Rain or shine, she’s at the front door each morning to greet each student with a handshake or a high five, look them in the eye, and welcome them to another day at Fay.
The day and boarding students in our Upper School hail from more than 20 countries, and many of them volunteer in the Primary School as lunch, art, P.E., and language helpers. The children can’t wait to spend time with their Upper School heroes, and these cross-grade friendships build an authentically diverse community as well as excitement for each next step in the kindergarteners’ journey through Fay. 
Each week, Primary School students gather in our Multipurpose Room for Morning Meeting. At these gatherings, our Head of Primary School presents commendations to children who have been “caught being kind” to peers and teachers. Children also practice their public speaking skills by sharing presentations about what they’ve learned. These informal speaking opportunities plant the seeds for Fay’s public speaking program, which begins in third grade.
Fay’s Creativity and Design curriculum challenges students to employ a powerful approach known as design thinking as they delve into hands-on projects that foster creativity and deepen understanding across subject areas. To complement this program, in 2022 Fay opened a state-of-the-art, two-floor, 7,000 square-foot Center for Creativity and Design.

What does the research say?

On the benefit of investing in private school in the early years:

High-quality birth-to-five programs can deliver a 13% per year return on investment. Children in high-quality early education programs were found to demonstrate increased overall health and wellness; better-developed social and emotional skills, such as self-control and the ability to monitor; access to more information; and a higher level of engagement in the world around them.
— “The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,” James Heckman, Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago

On the importance of small class size:

A 2014 analysis by the National Education Policy Center found that smaller classes generally lead to higher test scores for students, especially in earlier grades, when teachers are properly trained to work with small groups and adjust their instruction accordingly.
— “Does Class Size Matter?” The National Education Policy Center

On the benefits of learning foreign languages in the primary years:

“The results of the analysis showed that the groups who received foreign language instruction scored significantly higher in three areas of cognitive function than the control group. In particular, the students who had received foreign language instruction scored higher on tasks involving evaluation...the highest cognitive skill according to Bloom’s taxonomy.”
—Foster, K. M., & Reeves, C. K. (1989). Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) improves cognitive skills. FLES News, 2(3), 4.

On the importance of family-style meals at school:

Sigman-Grant et al. (2008) reported a positive association between family-style meal service and children’s social development, with adults helping to facilitate children’s motor skill development and nurture 
children’s table manners, conversational skills, and social behavior.
—“Building Healthier Children Through Family-Style Service in School Cafeterias,” School Nutrition Association, 2015

On the importance of great Kindergarten teachers:

In a study conducted by Harvard economist Raj Chetty, “Students who had learned much more in Kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds…As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more…Good early education can impart skills that last a lifetime — patience, discipline, manners, perseverance.” 
—from “The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers” by David Leonhardt, The New York Times
“My child didn’t just benefit from amazing classroom teachers in Kindergarten—it was a whole network of amazing teachers. Every single specialist who worked with my child—literacy, art, music, French, Spanish, library, P.E., reading and language, even the Head of Primary School—got to know my child well and cared deeply about her progress.”   Fay Kindergarten parent

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