We define the lower as grades K-4 and have designed programs and assessments that address both developmental growth as well as skills and content. The school encourages the curious child to become the exploring scholar. Gradually learning independence and academic skills, students acquire knowledge of the world beyond their town and their state situating themselves as members of a global community.
In determining the curricular offerings, we seek to ensure that students learn content knowledge as well as gain the skills of reading, writing, and computing. The school combines specific reading and math programs with the Core Knowledge curriculum. Core Knowledge schooling is based on the belief that building successful academic students requires shared knowledge as well as skills. The schoolwide program is anchored in a spiral curriculum that introduces topics that will be viewed at increasingly complex levels.
Believing that service engenders empathy and responsibility, the lower school organizes and implements the school-wide Toy Drive to contribute to H.O.P.E during the holidays.
KINDERGARTEN THROUGH SECOND GRADE
Kindergarten opens the world of words for students as they embark on the task of learning to read, write, and compute. The School uses the Wilson Language Fundations program, a multisensory, structured program designed to build reading and spelling extends from kindergarten to second grade. Leveled readers accompany their learning offering content-rich stories and information.
Recognizing that learning is fluid in these early years, grades one and two are a combined class which moves students at rates that align with the individual student. There are benchmark requirements that students must meet by the end of the year, but the small class sizes allow students to progress according to their skills and understanding.
READING AND WRITING: The program is a multisensory structured program designed to build phonic awareness. Leveled readings are integrated with the program as well as stories from around the world to infuse awareness that students are members of a wide and diverse community.
MATH: KinderMath introduces students to concepts and number sense and builds sequentially to second grade. It is a spiraled interactive math curriculum. Engaging students with hands-on activities, the program includes pre- and post- testing, students acquire the skills and number sense to enter first grade math class with confidence and experience with critical thinking and problem-solving with numbers
SOCIAL STUDIES AND SCIENCE: Social studies and science are supported by the Core Knowledge series that includes readings, activities, and assessments.
ART: improves fine motor skills of cutting, gluing, sculpting, and painting. Student learn to respect their work and to view themselves as artists. Students build visual literacy as they are introduced to great masterworks if history, Projects align with social studies, language arts, and science.
GRADES THREE TO FOUR
Third grade is the fundamental shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” It is a challenging and exciting during which students actualize the skills they developed in their previous years. To assist in this important transition students engage with the discrete areas of math, science, humanities, and Japanese with teachers who also teach in the upper grades, preparing students for the quality of work and thought necessary for academic success in the upper grades.
ENGLISH: Students read a variety of fiction and non-fiction, biography, suspense, poetry, and humor. In addition to a textbook of stories and activities, students also read class sets of chapter books. Students learn the different skills used according to the purposes of reading: reading for aesthetic and personal response, reading for critical analysis and evaluation, and reading for acquisition, interpretation, and application of information. Students are introduced to figurative language and use supplemental materials to reinforce the concepts introduced.
Students build vocabulary that is specific to each discipline of academic study as well as general expressive vocabulary. Learning to write organized short paragraphs, the students will practice three of the five modes of composition: narration, description, and explanation. Students will also begin to observe parts of speech such as nouns and action verbs.
MATH: The text for third and fourth grades is EngageNY, however the third and fourth grades are not combined, given the sequential knowledge necessary to ensure a strong foundation in math. This level focuses on 1) developing an understanding of multiplication and division as well as strategies for multiplying and dividing within 100; 2) developing and understanding of fractions, especially unit fractions (fractions with numerator one); 3) developing understanding of the structure of rectangular arrays and of area; and 4) describing and analyzing two-dimensional shapes.
SCIENCE: Students enter third and fourth grades with more refined reading and writing skills and are ready to engage in higher order thinking activities and lessons. These grades “set the stage” for the outdoor field science program that begins in fifth grade by introducing fundamental scientific laws and ideas. Student are encouraged to “tinker” with the big ideas through authentic science activities. Students delve more deeply into sophisticated topics in earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics. Since students of this age are now curious about distant or unknown “things,” they explore topics such as the solar system, the human body, the national park system as well as unseen forces and phenomena such as air pressure, electricity, plate tectonics, and potential energy.
ART: Grades three and four are designed around art media and connection to their academic studies. Art projects fully embrace cultural diversity and support the interconnectedness of art, literature, science, and the world around us. The focus is on fine art vocabulary, master artists, images of representational and abstract art, art genre, and art media.
SOCIAL STUDIES: The course uses the text Our Country’s Regions by MacMillan/McGraw-Hill as a backbone for the course. Students study regions of the United States, with a strong unit on Vermont, its geography, economy, and history. Students are introduced to government through the We the People text published by Center for Civic Education. Because the course is combined the yearly focus alternates from regions of study to early American history. Both years explore the founding ideas of US government.