Lower School Curriculum
Lower School students are taught Language Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies in their primary classroom. Faculty with specialized training in Science, Art, Chapel, Computer, Library, Music, and Physical Education provide instruction beyond the walls of a student’s homeroom and in interdisciplinary activities.
(Reading) The Language Arts program begins with a multi-modal approach that integrates listening, reading and writing as young students learn to master the sound-symbol code. Students then move to a literature-based approach to reading where they listen to and read a wealth of literature including short stories, novels, poetry and plays. Comprehension, analysis and critical thinking skills are developed through student responses to this literature.
(Writing) Writing is taught as a process emphasizing pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing by a faculty trained in the application of the Six + 1 Traits Writing Program.
(Spelling) Spelling is taught from a systematic, analytical framework where students learn both to spell words correctly and to understand the rules and patterns of the English language.
(Grammar) Teachers use multisensory methods to help students learn to identify and correctly use the eight parts of speech.
(Handwriting) Handwriting Without Tears provides the systematic, sequential, skills- based approach to student mastery of print letter formation and cursive writing.
(Speaking) Public speaking skills are taught and practiced in Language Arts throughout the Lower School years. Students have the opportunity to present in a variety of modalities for both large and small audiences.
Presbyterian School uses the EveryDay Mathematics curriculum derived from the University of Chicago Mathematics Project. This curriculum is designed to guide children as they make the gradual transition from concrete operations to abstract thinking skills by establishing links between actions with concrete materials, pictures, oral statements and symbolic arithmetic sentences. In addition to memorizing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, students work in small groups to explore, problem solve and discuss math patterns and principles.
The primary purpose of the Social Studies curriculum is to prepare Presbyterian School students to be knowledgeable, responsible and service-minded citizens of the world. By studying the past and the present, Presbyterian School students will examine ways that people interact with one another and their environments. Their learning will be based on the themes of government, economics, geography and history. Lower School students will also focus on why service is important and how they can make a difference in their community and the world around them.
The elementary science program encourages children’s natural curiosity about the world around them and provides a fun and exciting environment to learn what it is like to be a scientist. In the science lab, children are involved in hands-on activities that lead to a better understanding of scientific processes and concepts. This inquiry based approach increases their critical thinking and decision making abilities while they explore the content in the areas of earth science, life science, and physical science. Often cross-curricular instruction provides a more integrated understanding for the children. The elementary science program provides a continuum from kindergarten through fourth grade so the children build on their prior knowledge to expand their understanding of science.
Presbyterian School offers a comprehensive art program. Students learn about the elements and principles of design, aesthetic awareness and art history and engage in art production with a variety of materials and techniques. The school’s location in the heart of the Museum District allows students to experience art in the museum setting, viewing exhibitions and taking advantage of studio learning opportunities.
Chapels form the core of the Lower School Christian Education. Each Wednesday the Chaplain meets with students and teachers for prayer, song, and a Bible lesson. During this time, scripture readings, Bible stories, song, discussion, dramatization and prayer requests are utilized as essential elements in helping students develop a spiritual core. Chapel lessons are taken from both the Old and New Testaments. Chapel time provides a safe environment for students to learn and talk about God. Parents are welcome to attend chapel with their children. Teachers reinforce the values and lessons learned in Chapel through personal character development in the classroom. In addition to weekly Chapel, several all-community chapel services are held in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church to unite the community, mark important events and manifest the spiritual anchoring and Christian foundation of the school.
Time in the library encourages the exploration of ideas and opens doors to the global community. The library houses research and reading materials that support the school curriculum and independent, recreational reading. Students develop a greater appreciation for reading and writing as they learn about the availability and use of the written word in different forms, such as in reference materials, magazines and nonfiction and fiction books. Moreover, students are introduced to a variety of genres within the fiction realm, including historical fiction, mystery and science fiction. Students learn library skills and etiquette through the school year. Students are taught responsibility as they borrow and return library materials. Each week the librarian fosters and enhances student enjoyment of literature by reading stories to students.
The Lower School music curriculum follows the guiding principles of Zoltán Kodály. Singing technique, music theory and music history are taught at each grade level. The presentation of music in performance is a key part of the music program. Students perform for the school community, for parents and in outside venues throughout the year.
Daily physical education classes at Presbyterian School promote physical fitness and health while enhancing the overall education of children. Activities involve movement, rhythm, strength, endurance, skill, strategy and sportsmanship. Students progress from mastering fundamental skills to applying these skills in games and sport activities.