K-4 Academic Overview
The success of our Lower School centers on creating the optimal foundation for each student’s educational journey. Each teacher is committed to fostering a love of learning and to delivering engaging academic instruction, while providing the most supportive environment. Small class sizes and even smaller instructional groupings for literacy and math set our elementary school experience apart. Technology integrated at every level of the curriculum expands learning opportunities and encourages problem solving, systematic reasoning and collaboration among students. Both the schedule and curriculum are designed to support and guide students to reach their full potential.
Our Language Arts program uses guided reading groups based on students’ needs with regards to mastery of the curriculum. Fiction and nonfiction text, poetry, and high frequency phrases are used. Overall areas for assessment are fluency, retelling, and comprehension. For this, students are encouraged to reread passages for mastery. Our teachers use a variety of materials including big books and picture books as anchor texts to model examples of comprehension strategies and literary elements. Students are constantly assessed individually with the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). While students are provided opportunity for instruction in a wide range of genres, they are encouraged to grow as independent readers when given choice and support in application of comprehension strategies to their own as well as teacher selected book choices.
Word study instruction is based on a developmental continuum of the stages of phonics, spelling, and vocabulary instruction. Formative assessment for each student with the Developmental Spelling Analysis (DSA) drives individualized, targeted word study instruction and activities focused on features of word study where students learn orthographic rules of phonics and spelling.
The Lower School math program develops students’ abilities to become creative and critical thinkers while promoting the understanding and enjoyment of mathematics through the development of problem solving strategies, reasoning skills, and computational skills. Frequent activities with visual models and manipulatives help concrete thinkers begin to develop abstract reasoning abilities. Teachers encourage students to take responsibility for their own mathematics learning and to communicate mathematically using the proper vocabulary. Activities and lessons are developed to show students that math is a part of our everyday life.
Our social studies curriculum incorporates all aspects of history, civics, economics, geography, as well as the importance of sustainability and philanthropy. Teachers integrate project learning and literature into the curriculum to create continuity and authenticity to the real world. All grade levels incorporate service learning into their curriculum where students can have an active opportunity to experience the direct impact of philanthropy and volunteerism at an early age.
The New School’s Lower School science program encourages students by building confidence with hands-on experiences and opportunities. There are a variety of imaginative projects, targeted to students’ growth in both methodology and information, which creates an exciting atmosphere around science. They learn the scientific method and have numerous chances to apply and refine their ability to use it. Teaching methods reflect the scientific endeavor, helping students develop their own questions and answers in a creative, yet logical way.