The lower school curriculum reflects our understanding that children are active learners who develop, test, and refine concepts by interacting with a wide variety of materials and with other children. Through careful observation and assessment, teachers determine the level of complexity and challenge appropriate for each individual and design activities that meet a range of abilities, skill levels, and interests. We keep class size small (sixteen in kindergarten, eighteen in first through fourth grades) and use half-day assistant teachers in kindergarten, first, and second grades to support an environment where differentiation is valued.
We feature a hands-on, experiential approach to learning and recognize the importance of laying a strong foundation of academic skills. Throughout the school year, teachers work on grade level teams and cross grade-level committees to ensure that fundamental skills of reading, writing and mathematics are presented in a thoughtful sequence and practiced in meaningful contexts. Similarly, we place strong emphasis on our social curriculum, which is guided by the Responsive Classroom philosophy.
Strong relationships with parents are a vital part of an effective Lower School program. To help parents support the learning that goes on at school, teachers send home weekly classroom newsletters with information about current areas of study. They communicate informally with parents through notes, e-mails, and phone calls as the need arises and ask parents to do the same. We encourage open communication between home and school and value parents' perspectives on their children and on our program.