Beginning School Curriculum
Beginning School children benefit from a dynamic approach to curriculum where special interests, individual skill levels, and subject content areas are blended into integrated themes, projects, and play experiences. Our curriculum allows children to learn from firsthand experience and to progress at their individual pace.
- Personal & Social Development
- Language & Literacy
- Social Studies
- Technology & Digital Tools
Students learn to be self-directed. They learn about and gain respect for self, family, classroom, community, and the environment. They develop a positive self-image which promotes successful interactions with peers and adults in both large and small groups. They take initiative and learn to complete tasks in a manner which instills pride in one’s accomplishments. They also develop independence and responsibility for making appropriate choices.
Interaction with Others
Beginning schoolers learn about respect and empathy for others while developing cooperation, collaboration, and sharing skills. They begin to express and understand feelings, strengthen cooperation, and work on collaboration skills. The faculty and students work together to create classrooms with a sense of community, while emphasizing friendship-building and cooperative learning.
Students develop interpersonal skills to help them solve problems. The Second Step social skills curriculum is introduced. Students are also introduced to strategies for expressing empathy, for maintaining self-control, and for managing intense feelings.
Our balanced literacy approach to reading and writing builds on students’ individual abilities and strengths. Reading, writing, and phonics are integrated through a variety of materials, experiences, and activities.
Students develop skills of oral language, listening, and speaking, and they build vocabulary to appropriately express ideas and feelings. They develop and connect oral and written language, listening, and speaking skills.
Supporting Emerging Readers
Emerging readers develop awareness of books and authors; learn songs, poetry, and finger plays; and are introduced to the library and reading center. Learning includes shared reading, picture labeling, group experiences, introductory letter-sound associations, handwriting skills, left-to-right progression, predicting, sequencing, inferring, summarizing, and exposure to literature and authors. The students also develop an awareness of literature through a variety of forms—songs, chants, poetry, big books, and rhyming. They learn to read as their skills emerge.
Supporting Emerging Writers
Emerging writers learn to use symbols to communicate ideas and participate in activities that strengthen fine-motor skills. The students practice writing though dictation of their individual and classroom stories and through journalling, drawing, bookmaking, and picture labeling. We also introduce writing mechanics such as name writing, appropriately using upper and lower case letters, and using spaces between words.
In social studies, the children are taught to understand and celebrate similarities and differences in families, individuals, and cultures. They understand how to develop a classroom community that respects social and cultural diversity. We explore families, homes, and school life.
Our youngest students experience being a valued member of a community and contributing to the classroom. They learn to take care of the people and things they value in the classroom and the school. They discuss and identify needs of the school community and act on those needs with special projects. The yearly service projects are chosen based on the interest of the classroom community.
With carefully selected materials and thoughtful guidance, children’s science explorations encourage them to observe more closely, develop new ideas about the world, and build a foundation on which to construct later knowledge.
In science, the students are introduced to the scientific skills of observing, predicting, questioning, and experimenting. They explore the concepts of living and nonliving, cause and effect, and animal and plant cycles.
Children learn to use tools to investigate (hand lenses, scales, sensory table), to make scientific drawings, and to keep and record data.
Children are provided with meaningful situations in which they can explore mathematical concepts through the use of manipulative materials, engaging activities, and real-life scenarios. Children are challenged to explore ideas related to patterns, shapes, numbers, and space with increasing sophistication.
Students are introduced to sorting and classifying, sequencing, patterning, seriation, estimating and predicting, measurement (bigger, smaller, more, and less), counting, and number recognition. They then learn to sort and classify by one or more attributes; sequence; pattern; seriate; compare; measure weight, volume, and length; make simple graphs; and predict outcomes.
Students begin to understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, and the relationships among numbers. They learn to count by rote, numerical recognition, number quantity, and one-to-one correspondence. They learn the + and – symbols; how to count to 100 by ones, fives, and tens; number writing; coins and values of pennies, nickels, and dimes; the purpose of a clock and function of the hour and minute hands; and the calendar and the meaning of days, weeks, and months.
The children explore spatial concepts by learning to understand and use common positional words (above, below, under, beside, behind). They learn to recognize, name, build, draw, and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, and positional words (inside, outside, behind, in front of, on).
Beginning School teachers carefully select technology tools to enhance student learning. Tools and interactive media support young learner’s abilities to explore, create, problem solve, document, research, play, and collaborate.
Digital tools do not replace typical classroom activities, but instead enhance and expand those experiences. Teachers introduce students to the importance of being good digital citizens.
Students' interactions with digital tools should be open ended; connect on-and off-screen activities; support play; and be active, not passive.
Every Beginning School classroom is led by two highly skilled educators, and our average student-teacher ratio is 9:1. Students and faculty develop rich, caring relationships—the foundation of excellent teaching and learning.