In a language-rich environment, Lower School students acquire fundamental academic and organizational skills along with the interpersonal skills essential for success in school and in life. The emphasis throughout the elementary school years is on how to learn. The acquisition of language and literacy skills is paramount. Through their successes in the classroom and as they participate in school life, students develop the self-confidence that inspires them to assume responsibility for their own learning. As awareness of their unique learning styles emerges, Lower School students develop the early skills of self-advocacy and are ready to meet the challenges of Middle School.
Designed for students ages 5 through 10, the tone of the Lower School is at once nurturing and dynamic. In ungraded homerooms of up to 11 students with two teachers, students are grouped by age, academic proficiency, and compatibility. In Reading and Math classes, they divide into small groups of two to eight students with one teacher. A Language Therapist may push in. These skill-based groups are homogeneous, determined by age and proficiency, to facilitate targeted and individualized instruction. They are also flexible. Teachers assess students regularly and modify the groupings when change is warranted. At every turn, Lower School students are supported by a high level of structure, given clear expectations, and are taught diagnostically.
Each day, students devote two periods or 90 minutes to instruction in Reading and Writing and one period to Math instruction. Students participate in Social Studies and Science classes up to three times throughout the week. In Read Alouds, the youngest students continue to focus on literacy development. In Research and Technology, the oldest students learn to research and write papers and master a progression of computer skills. The Arts classes include the Visual Arts, Music, and Dance. Physical Education classes occur up to four times weekly. Students enjoy recess daily.
Students also receive related services including Language and Occupational Therapy. A Social Development curriculum encompasses Counseling. Language instruction is tightly integrated with Reading and Writing and, in turn, with the subject areas. Students meet two to three times per week for Language instruction in small groups. The Language Therapist is available in the classroom as needed. Occupational Therapy and Counseling are delivered weekly in small groups and on a push-in basis as needed.