Lower School Academics
Language Arts (meets twice daily)
In Language Arts classes, students study the basic elements of grammar, literature, vocabulary, and written expression. Students learn proper grammar usage in order to improve their writing and proofreading skills. Students learn the elements of literature and improve their reading comprehension using literature texts as well as novels such as Bud, not Buddy, Because of Winn Dixie, and Shiloh. All material is read aloud and thoroughly discussed in class. Students learn a structured writing process that progresses from simple sentences to expanded paragraphs and simple research papers.
Mathematics (meets twice daily)
The primary purpose of the math class is to develop math skills in the areas of concepts, computation, and application. Emphasis is placed on using manipulatives to introduce new concepts and on mastering the basic operations with whole numbers, decimals and fractions. Direct instruction of new material, cooperative groups, guided and independent practice are teaching strategies used to engage students and maintain attention.
Social Studies / Science
Students spend one semester studying social studies and one semester studying science. They not only learn grade-level content in various social studies and science classes, but they also work to improve reading comprehension and note-taking skills. Students master essential strategies to learn factual information and are also directly taught how to demonstrate their knowledge in written form. Hands-on laboratory experiences help students grasp scientific concepts that are introduced in texts as well as understand the scientific method. Topics in social studies progress from the study of basic communities in the first grade to the history of the world in older grades. Students are also introduced to basic elements of geography and map skills. Topics of study in science include animal and plant life, body systems, earth and space.
Students receive a period of instruction in reading daily to focus on decoding and comprehension skills. S.P.I.R.E. (Educators Publishing Services, Inc.) stands for Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence. S.P.I.R.E. is a research based systematic, phonetic approach to literacy that teaches total word structure. The curriculum proceeds from simple to complex as teaching begins with letters representing single sounds that are immediately synthesized into words that carry meaning. Types of syllables are directly taught. Concepts are presented in a logical sequence with constant repetition provided in interesting, informative ways. S.P.I.R.E. incorporates literature-based controlled texts that are specifically written to reinforce concepts and to teach students to interpret and reflect on what they read. S.P.I.R.E. addresses vocabulary development as well as reading comprehension utilizing a variety of techniques, including visualization. The program is a total language approach that utilizes multi-sensory teaching to help ensure automatic memory.
Students attend a period of exploratory each day, participating in structured physical education, art, or another exploratory class. Students participate in an adaptive PE program that begins by teaching isolated skills and leads up to implementing them in team games. Emphasis is placed on teamwork, sportsmanship, and following directions. Students are exposed to traditional team games, eccentric games, swimming, exercises, problem-solving activities, ropes course initiatives, and low and high ropes course elements. The Meet the Masters curriculum is utilized to introduce students to famous artists and their techniques. Students imitate these masters’ techniques through lead-up activities and culminating projects. Other exploratories sometimes offered are computer, music, typing, geography and reading comprehension.