In Lower School the students (5-7 year olds) acquire the foundational skills they need for success in school and in life. In a multi-age setting, they master reading, writing and arithmetic, following rigorous academic standards.


The goal of the Lower Elementary Program is to create confident, capable, successful, life-long readers, writers, and communicators. Throughout the lower school, the curriculum incorporates all genres of literature through books, projects, and writing activities. Spelling and grammar skills are reinforced through daily practice and the Writers’ Workshop process. Print writing, with emphasis on correct letter formation and pencil grip, lays the foundation for the transition to cursive writing.

Grades K-2 core reading instructional materials include both decodable texts with which students can practice their skills as well as rich children’s literature and informational texts through which students’ vocabulary, background knowledge and interest will be enhanced. Students read a variety of fiction and non-fiction literature. The books are leveled for individualized instruction and have strong, child appealing themes and genres.

Reading & Writing

We believe that exposure to language arts at an early age is paramount to laying a strong foundation for higher education.

A strong language arts program is delivered by an experienced educator who is skilled at assessing and identifying a student’s specific reading, spelling and writing needs.

The language arts program consists of instruction in the areas of the writing process, spelling, reading, phonics and handwriting. The language arts program is based on the following philosophy:

  • Reading and writing experiences are “child centered”
  • Reading and writing for meaning are paramount
  • Writing and spelling should have purpose and meaning
  • Reading, writing and spelling are inseparable processes
  • Children learn to read and write by reading and writing many different kinds of texts
  • Reading and writing are powerful tools for learning
  • Reading and writing flourish in a supportive community
  • Success at reading and writing encourages further reading and writing

The reading program includes the child actively reading: To and with the teacher both individually and in small groups for specific reading and phonics instruction, in shared and guided reading groups, in language experience groups, to herself for pleasure and to and with peers to share information or for pleasure.


Handwriting fluency is fundamental to learning because children think and write at the same time. When we teach children to write, we also teach them how to express themselves. If they struggle to form their letters, their ability to express themselves will suffer. Children who don’t master handwriting may be slow, sloppy, or illegible writers.

We focus on fun and achievement to optimize children’s curiosity and joy of learning throughout school. Our goal is to help students learn proper handwriting habits and then apply those habits naturally and automatically to all writing experiences that they’ll take throughout elementary school, high school, and beyond.

The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum starts when children enter kindergarten. By playing, singing and building letters, they develop important skills they need to print words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually transition to cursive.

Enriching Language Arts Program

The classrooms are linguistically-rich environments where children are encouraged to play with the sounds of language through developmentally appropriate activities. Direct instruction and practice comprehending the meaning of text starts early and builds through the early and fluent reading stages.

Phonemic awareness includes: Rhyming, blending, segmentation, initial sound,  final sound, medial sound

What does it look like?

  • sharing books that play with language
  • reading and reciting nursery rhymes
  • singing songs that play with sounds
  • engaging in games that encourage word play
  • sharing riddles and rhymes that focus on songs
  • activities that allow for phoneme substitution
  •  phonemic awareness activities built into instruction in letters and sounds

The  Reading Program for ages 5- 8:

  • develops print concepts
  • develops knowledge of letter names and shapes
  • conveys the understanding that spoken words are composed of sounds (phonemic awareness) and that letters correspond to these sounds
  • provides systematic and explicit instruction in sound/ symbol relationships (phonics)
  • make use of rich and varied literature and read to children regularly
  • Students are given time to regular practice, acquire new knowledge and concepts, and build vocabulary

As students become early and fluent readers,  the teacher includes teacher directed comprehension instruction which includes both modeling and guided practice of comprehension strategies such as summarizing, predicting and using the structural elements of text.

Students are given opportunities  to discuss what’s read with the teacher and peers to enable students to learn to defend opinions based on their readings, thus deepening their understanding of the texts and their ability to use a whole range of responses from literal to critical and evaluative

The reading program includes the child actively reading: To and with the teacher both individually and in small groups for specific reading and phonics instruction, in shared and guided reading groups, in language experience groups, to herself for pleasure and to and with peers to share information or for pleasure.

Writing (Spelling, Phonics, Handwriting)

Writing Process – The students will be involved in composing meaningful text on a daily basis. Students will be planning, composing, revising/editing, publishing and sharing their writing. Students will learn to write and communicate their thoughts and ideas using different forms (stories, journals, letters, & poems). The writing process will be modeled daily by the teacher. Spelling and grammar instruction is integrated with writing instruction.

Writing Workshop by Grade Level

Kindergarten – The Kindergarten Language Arts curriculum includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, and handwriting. Students explore literacy through play, guided reading, shared reading, read-alouds, and structured activities in a print-rich environment. The girls work in small groups using a variety of reading strategies such as context clues, letter/sound relationships, and word structure. As students gain experience with learning proper letter formation, they are introduced to response journals writing activities in which they focus on writing simple sentences to answer a given prompt and express feelings.

First Grade – The 1st grade Language Arts program adds a spelling component to a continued development of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and handwriting skills. The girls explore literacy through play, guided reading, shared reading, read-alouds, and dramatizations. An increased emphasis is placed upon writing complete sentences in response to prompted questions. As the year progresses students are given many opportunities to engage in creative writing with homemade pamphlets, books, letters, and informational posters. Additional enrichment activities and objectives include completing a story map to retell a story, learning blends and digraphs, distinguishing fiction from non-fiction, and constructing character webs.

Second Grade – Daily writing helps the girls continue to develop and extend their own skills through writing prompts, letter writing, creative writing projects, reading comprehension activities, and a research paper. Through the Writers’ Workshop process, students learn and practice correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules. Vocabulary building and spelling are essential elements of this curriculum, and the spelling component is highly individualized through games and daily writing activities that help girls learn and apply spelling patterns. Correct letter formation for print writing is reviewed and emphasized before cursive writing is introduced during the second half of the year.

Mathematics – 5 BASIC MATH STRANDS

  • Number Sense and Operations – Arithmetic and place value
  • Algebra – From the youngest age, learning to recognize patterns and sets (“pick the small red fish”) creates the groundwork for working with unknowns and algebraic variables.
  • Geometry and Spatial Sense – When children build on their knowledge of basic shapes, they increase their ability to reason spatially, read maps, visualize objects in space, and eventually use geometry to solve problems.
  • Measurement – Learning how to measure and compare is an important life skill that encompasses the concepts of length, weight, temperature, capacity, time, and money.
  • Data Analysis and Probability – Using charts, tables, and graphs will help children learn to share and organize information about the world around them.

Students will be actively engaged in applying the language and basic skills of math through mini lesson led by the teacher and learning centers and stations. A combination of hands-on activities, online learning modules and paper/pencil reinforcement and practice are used.

The math curriculum is designed to help students learn a wide range of concepts and problem solving skills as well as assure knowledge of basic skills. A wide range of manipulatives will be used to provide a strong conceptual understanding of skills. Collecting and organizing data, solving word problems, using various strategies for problem solving and test preparation will be emphasized.

For students ages 4 – 7 general education instruction in mathematics should include development of the following math-related abilities: concepts and reasoning (e.g., basic number concepts, meaning of operations such as addition, geometric concepts); automatic recall of number facts (e.g., memorization of basic addition facts such as 3 + 4 so that children know answers instantly instead of having to count); computational algorithms (the written procedure or series of steps for solving more complex types of calculation, e.g., for two-digit addition with regrouping, calculation starts in the right-hand column and tens are “carried” from the ones to the tens column); functional math (e.g., practical applications such as time and money); and verbal problem-solving (e.g., solving word problems).

A chart outlining all of the math goals for each grade level is available to parents. Students are given a pre-test at the beginning of each new math chapter to determine the skills that each student has already mastered and needs to learn. The program uses the Houghton Mifflin Math as the foundation program and is supplemented by IXL (web-based online math practice).

From pre-kindergarten through second grade, children develop a mathematical foundation by building beliefs about what mathematics is and what it means to understand and “do” mathematics. Instruction helps them understand patterns and measurement and develops a solid understanding of the numeration system.

An important key to developmentally appropriate mathematics instruction, at any age or grade level, is achieving balance between teaching for conceptual understanding and teaching for procedural fluency. Students learn procedures with meaning so math is not just memorizing discrete pieces of information that are difficult for  to remember. Students develop an understanding of the concepts they are studying before they apply these ideas to procedural strategies.