The Lower School focuses on providing a balanced curriculum of academics, arts, and athletics. Each student follows a sequential curriculum to master the foundational knowledge and skills in English, mathematics, science, history and geography, Spanish, music, art and physical education.
LANGUAGE ARTS: Teachers emphasize learning and writing the sounds associated with the 71 phonograms, the building blocks of the English language. Students regularly utilize these skills to aid in reading, writing and spelling. Letter formation and spacing, grammar skills, punctuation, capitalization, compound words and contractions are introduced and practiced. The students work on writing the four different types of sentences, declarative, interrogative, exclamatory and imperative, in daily writing assignments and journal entries. In Writing Workshop, students are introduced to writing personal narratives, fiction and non-fiction, and poetry. Dictionary and library use are introduced.
Reading comprehension skills are developed during the Reading Workshop. Reading Workshop allows students to spend an extended amount of time reading authentic texts that interest them on a daily basis. Reading strategies are taught and opportunities are provided to talk about literature. The ultimate goal of a Reading Workshop is to develop life-long passionate readers who can read a variety of texts that have increasing levels of complexity.
MATHEMATICS: Through the introduction to the Singapore math program, students learn to read and write numbers to 100, count by 2s, 3s, 5s and 10s to 100, and add and subtract two-digit numbers to 100. Other topics include time, money, basic fractions, and multiplication and division of 2s, 5s and 10s. Word problems and methods of solving them are an integral part of the program.
SCIENCE: Students in grade one are introduced to the process of science, predicting and observing. Students study the campus environment, in particular, the YaharaRiver and related life cycles. Additionally, students study oceans, nutrition and the sun and the stars.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY: The first grade curriculum includes World and American History. Geography is embedded in throughout the various units of study. The study of the world begins with the Ice Age progresses through early civilizations including Mesopotamia and Egypt. The study of North American history begins with the hunters and nomads crossing the land bridge from Asia to North America. The study continues with a look at the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations. Focus then shifts to early exploration and settlement examining the Conquistadors, English settlers and the American thirteen colonies. Students are able to demonstrate knowledge through numerous public speaking opportunities centered on global awareness and current events.
SPANISH: The goal of the Spanish program is communicative competence in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students at the beginning level of Spanish focus on speaking and listening the first half of the year and basic reading and writing in the second half of the year. A great deal of emphasis is placed on building vocabulary through children’s poetry, songs, role playing and puppetry. Topics include greetings, expressions of emotions, people and things in the classroom, numbers, colors, buildings, animals and days of the week, months of the year, classes and school, modes of transportation, rooms and furnishings of the home, food, animals, time and the family. Throughout the year, students are introduced to the various cultures and regions of the Spanish-speaking world. In addition, students participate in a unit of cultural study that culminates in a special event such as “Carnaval.”
MUSIC: Students receive weekly piano lessons in small groups. Formal music theory classes, the writing and understanding of musical notation, begin. Theory and piano studies prepare students for regular recitals, school concerts, and musicals, as well as the graded examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London. Students incorporate previously learned musical concepts with the use of instruments, singing, dancing and expressive movement. Some of the major studies include Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Students also work on improving their ear training and vocal skills.
ART: Students learn the five basic elements of shape and how they can be combined. The class includes basic drawing, painting and sculpture. The children learn color properties and observe the interplay between color and light and bright and dark colors. Students also examine and discuss works of art, including cave paintings, the art of ancient Egypt, and Impressionism, including Monet and Degas. They then create a piece in the style of the artist. Portraiture is introduced as well. Art topics and activities may be added to complement other subjects learned by the class.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION: The program emphasizes physical skills that can be applied in multiple sports situations. Through games and drills, students learn basic ball handling skills, fine and gross motor movements, spatial awareness and basic strategy. Students develop confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities. Leadership, teamwork and good sportsmanship are taught. The program emphasizes lifelong fitness.