Lower School Curriculum
First through fifth grade curriculum
Students learn the significance and satisfaction of living a life of purpose by participating in ongoing community service projects. You’ll find kindergartners collecting pajamas for needy children, second graders spearheading a shoe drive, third Graders collecting canned good and making Thanksgiving baskets for Loudoun Hunger Relief, and children of all grades raising money for Paws 4 Vets, an organization that provides PTSD-trained service dogs to military veterans.
Leadership & Public Speaking
We believe that leadership is demonstrated by hard work and strong citizenship in the classroom. It is demonstrated as good sportsmanship in PE, in the governance of our student council, and in the empathy it takes to approach a student on the Buddy Bench (a place children can sit if they need extra support and a friend). It’s modeled in daily confidence-building public speaking experiences: monthly book projects are presented, children become the very person whose biography they’ve researched, drafts of stories and papers are read aloud, and solutions to math problems and brain teasers are explained.
Hands-on, Minds-on Model
From sharing a third-grade classroom with monarch butterflies to fully understand their lifecycle, to creating simple machines with their own hands and imagination, to STEM design projects and garden labs, students learn by doing, observing, discovering, predicting, and questioning.
Learning music facilitates the learning of other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. Our music curriculum is an example of collaboration and inclusion at its best. Students as young as PK perform in vocal concerts twice a year, while third graders learn to play recorders, and 4th graders begin the instrumental program by choosing an instrument to deeply study during the year and beyond.
Authentic teacher-driven assessment of every reader and their progress. Reading materials of interest and challenge. Small group work and workshop time that provides enrichment and support. Flexible seating that creates cozy places for kids to lose themselves in a book. Library time. Battle of the Books club. There are countless ways to see the heavy emphasis we put on teaching children to be strong readers, but what’s even more important is that these tools turn them into children who love to read.
Enrichment for All
Thanks to small class sizes and high levels of engagement, we are able to offer every student the opportunity to extend his or her learning. Constructing challenging, enjoyable learning experiences around each student’s interests, learning style, and preferred mode of expression allows us to develop to develop the talent of each child. From Genius Hour to reading groups, to differentiated instruction and paced groups, every student has the opportunity to grow themselves.
When you ask our students about their favorite memories of lower school, many recall, “my buddies.” Our buddy program—in which middle school students are partnered with their younger counterparts throughout the school year—is deeply embedded in each child’s experience (and in their hearts). Buddies visit frequently with each other, team up together in events like the annual Fun Run, and even make special gifts for each other (like a handmade book that older children write and illustrate about their younger friend). It’s a living, breathing example of Character Education that builds deep bonds.
Discovery means stepping outside of the classroom’s walls. Field trips to prominent sites like Jamestown, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia, to plays, to museums, to quarries and nature centers, enrich classroom learning and help students understand history and society in an authentic, meaningful way.
Children enjoy the benefits of a broad studio-based education—learning the importance of observation, technique, concept development, and critical thinking. They express themselves and how they perceive the world around them with a seemingly endless supply of artistic and inventive materials, including an on-site kiln.