Lower School Reflections
(Lower School Literary Journal)
The curriculum in the Lower School is designed with the stages of child development in mind. It seeks to accommodate individual learning styles and to allow for creativity, growth, and the development of positive self-esteem. Interdisciplinary objectives for all grades include critical thinking, information retrieval, reasoning, analyzing, decision making, collecting data, problem solving, communicating and writing skills, interpersonal skills, and conflict resolution.
A traditional approach to reading incorporates both phonics and literature. The skills of decoding, word study, vocabulary, comprehension, and study habits are taught in an integrated manner with regard to a child’s individual readiness. This is complimented by an English and language arts program that incorporates literary skills, grammar, and handwriting. One of the hallmarks of the Oak Hill Academy curriculum is its stress on creative writing. Therefore, the steps of the writing process are introduced at an early age.
Mathematics in the Lower School is designed to provide a strong foundation for mental conceptualization and problem solving. The Singapore math curriculum is based on the ability to take a student’s thinking from the concrete, to the pictorial, and finally to the abstract. Mathematics is seen as the vehicle, but thinking is the goal.
An active learning environment is also the approach used in the teaching of science and the scientific method. A science specialist works with the students on all areas of science. Utilizing two dedicated laboratories, science is explored through experiments, technology, and discussion.
Units in social studies allow Lower School students to explore geography and community in our country and our world. Past and present events and cultures are discussed with the fourth grade in particular studying New Jersey, as well as ancient cultures.
A conversational approach is the basis for the French program with children learning through games, puppets, and song. An exposure to the French culture is also an important goal of the class. Spanish is taught to all students in the Lower School Technology Center through the use of the Middlebury Spanish program. Latin is exposed to Lower School students through the Minimus curriculum that presents the Latin word structure and Roman culture through the eyes of a family. Instruction in Chinese is an after school option as well.
A healthy body leads to a strong mind and is the rationale behind a physical education and health program that is offered four times per week for Lower School students. Cooperative games, stretching exercises, and physical fitness challenges all focus on increasing gross motor skills and coordination. During the fall and spring, students participate in a swimming program that covers basic strokes, proper breathing, safety, and cardiovascular exercise.
Co-curricular work is the emphasis of the computer program. Computer class stresses learning how to use the computer as a tool and includes such topics as desktop publishing with Kid Pix and Kidspiration, gaming and coding, Internet research, knowing the parts of the computer and how they are used, presentation development and touch typing. Cyber Safety is discussed through animated presentations.
An innovative enrichment program entitled “Heads-On/Hands-On” invites students to be creative. Students use their imaginations and are challenged while learning about a variety of topics which integrate science, social studies, math, and reading skills. Weekly visits to the school library expand the world of reading for our students. The librarian introduces them to different types of literature, teaches them research techniques, and helps them take books out on loan for enjoyment or homework.