Learning is hands-on, and subjects come to life as students read, write, inquire, experiment, demonstrate, and learn from each other. Collaboration and cooperation are critical skills for our students, and the skills of working together are strategically taught, demonstrated, and practiced across all subjects. Reading, writing, math, science, and social studies concepts are often linked to each other through project-based learning themes, enabling students to practice and apply their understanding in a variety of contexts.
Lower school students also benefit from a rich array of “specials” — art , music, physical education, IDEA Lab, Spanish, and Library. All fourth and fifth graders learn to play a stringed instrument in addition to weekly classes in circuitry and coding. Everyone is taught to be a caretaker of the community, learning that actions and words can help to grow our community in ways that are inclusive and welcoming.
Skills in reading, writing, grammar, and spelling are introduced, developed, and deepened as students participate in a workshop-based approach to literacy. Our goal is to help young students become joyful, thoughtful, imaginative, and skillful communicators and listeners. Books of every variety can be found in the classroom libraries, creating the framework for our program, while opinion, information, and narrative forms of writing are studied, analyzed, and crafted.
Students are presented with explicit instruction and concrete goals through teacher-led mini-lessons and then have ample opportunity for practice while teachers coach individuals and lead small groups. Students focus on both the skills and process of writing and learn to draft, revise, edit, and proofread as aspects of their craft.
Problem solving is at the heart of our mathematics program. Using the Math in Focus (Singapore Math) program, students gain deeper conceptual understanding through the use of hands-on manipulatives and the review of diagrams and models. Through investigating problems singly, in small groups, and as a whole class, students develop the critical-thinking skills, positive attitudes, and confidence needed for life-long achievement.
Lower school students study a variety of topics in earth, physical, biological, and the social sciences — including entrepreneurship, civil rights, city planning, living and non-living things, the solar system, and weather. Students enjoy many field trips and benefit from visits from experts to enhance their understanding of these topics. Each classroom’s areas of study dovetail with grade-level project-based learning themes and are further connected to the sustainable development goals.
Students in first and second grade are introduced to iPads and Chromebooks. Third graders use advanced technology through experimenting with electronics, coding, and website design; they continue to hone their skills in these areas in fourth through eighth grade in specialized classes.
Lower school students focus on the testimonies of community and integrity — particularly justice, conflict resolution, identity, and making ethical choices. They also practice reflection and mindfulness, and learn about Quaker decision-making.