During their years in Lower School, our students build on the core academic skills they learned in Kindergarten and assume more responsibility and independence. From eating lunch in the cafeteria and exercising choice in extracurricular activities to becoming the “older buddy” by 4th grade, Lower School students strengthen their sense of self and deepen their participation in the Town community.
We are thoughtful about homework and testing expectations to ensure authentic connection to learning at each developmental stage. Reading at home is expected throughout the grades, and by the end of 4th grade, students have developed a strong understanding of expectations and requirements for both their schoolwork and homework. Standardized testing takes place in the spring of 4th grade so that students become comfortable with the test-taking experience in order to demonstrate their knowledge and ability.
Lower School teachers are proudly collaborative in their approach; sharing classrooms and ideas, and challenging each other on how best to support and deepen students’ understanding. Students leave Lower School as confident, independent thinkers who are ready to assume more leadership as they transition to Upper School.
David Andrew Wood
Head of Lower School
Division Overview and Parent Partnership
Lower School students take pride in their progress both academically and socially. Ideas and skills are continually reinforced across the subjects so that students can apply their knowledge to new situations and challenges.
Outside the classroom.
Our students access the vast resources of NYC to learn more about their world through field trips and guest speakers. Students in 3rd and 4th grade travel to a small working farm in the Catskills to learn about planting and harvesting vegetables, do farm chores, and help prepare meals.
Pursuing new passions.
Lower School students have more choice outside their regular class days to dig deeper into their interests. Offerings include: Chorus, Dance Club, More Math Club, and curriculum-based sustainability and community action projects.
With two co-teachers in every class, two literacy specialists, a math specialist, a learning specialist, and a school psychologist, students are observed carefully so that they receive enrichment and support when needed. Teachers hold formal conferences with parents twice a year to discuss their child’s progress and send home narrative reports in December and June. Students in the 3rd and 4th grades join the spring conferences so that they can take more responsibility for their learning and set their own goals with the guidance of their teachers.
Lower School Curriculum At-A-Glance
Students broaden their understanding of dance history through movement stories, choreography prompts/challenges, and by learning structured dances. Music literacy and composition lessons accompany more opportunities for singing and playing instruments. Art History creates a foundation for drawing, painting, printmaking, weaving, sculpture, ceramics, and digital art. Drama is formally introduced in the 4th grade Performing Arts class.
The primary objectives of the Reading program are to promote reading enjoyment and teach students how to respond creatively, critically, and thoughtfully to everything they read. The Writing program emphasizes the process of writing as well as the mechanics of sentence structure and punctuation.
The Math curriculum teaches students to use sound logic, think systematically and abstractly, and recognize mathematical patterns in real-life situations. As they progress from operations with whole numbers and fractions to basic principles of volume, area, and perimeter, students learn to solve a variety of puzzles, problems, and games.
PE emphasizes our core values of sportsmanship, kindness, teamwork, perseverance, resilience, and personal and social development. Students continue to develop general movement skills, learn elementary game and sports concepts, and grow their social awareness through group activities.
The Science program leverages children’s natural curiosity to develop their inquiry skills. In a fully equipped Science lab, students learn how to create and test hypotheses, make careful observations and predictions, take measurements, keep records, and interpret the results.
The Social Studies program centers around community life in different cultures and time periods. Students learn research techniques such as interviewing, observing, categorizing, and report writing. Field trips are important tools for building observation skills and collecting information.
Smartboards, iPads, and Macbooks are used regularly in the classrooms to enhance learning, and a 1:1 student iPad program begins in 4th grade. 3rd and 4th graders visit the Tech Center regularly to explore new applications, consider their digital footprint and safe researching techniques, and publish their writing compositions.
Spanish is taught in the 1st - 3rd grade homerooms to encourage daily use of the language. Students study families, foods, and neighborhoods and use songs, games, and artwork to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures. In 4th grade, students study French for half of the year and Spanish for the other half before choosing which language they would like to study in Upper School.