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Lower School Core Philosophy
We believe students learn best by being actively involved with new knowledge and having the opportunity to explore and construct understanding. A knowledge base is imperative, but students also need to use and experience that knowledge in a multitude of ways involving the senses. We desire to allow students to explore and be challenged in their learning in a safe and nurturing environment always fostering a love of learning. All that we teach comes from a biblical world view, seeing how truth is from God and how that knowledge impacts each of us. It is our goal to disciple the hearts of this next generation for God’s glory through the avenue of Christian Education.
We believe students need the following components to be successful readers:
- Phonemic Awareness (the sounds you hear)
- Vocabulary Development
Starting in kindergarten we review the letters and teach the sounds through a systematic hands-on program that is Orton-Gillingham based. This approach helps students gain an understanding of how the English language works; it is not just about memorization of the letters and sounds. By the end of second grade students will have a strong foundation in phonics and word knowledge to build upon.
Vocabulary development begins as early as kindergarten, but is formally taught starting in second grade by teaching one word a day through the use of vocabulary logs. Words are posted on word walls in every classroom exposing students to vocabulary.
Fluency is an important component because it is the bridge to comprehension. Teachers are well-equipped with a variety of techniques to improve a student’s fluency level. Fluency levels are assessed a minimum of three times a year.
Comprehension Strategies (Visualizing, Inferencing, etc.) are taught kindergarten through fifth grade utilizing picture books. By the middle of kindergarten, teachers assess their students to determine their reading level. Reading levels are attained at least three times a year. Student groups are formed by level or by skill depending on the need. Independent reading stamina is built starting in first grade. During this time, teachers meet with students independently to talk with them about their reading and to set goals to help students become better readers. This year third grade is challenged to read 30 books, fourth grade 35 books, and fifth grade 40 books in a variety of genres. The more a child reads materials that are appropriate for their level, the better their reading ability becomes. It is a muscle that needs to be worked for many hours.
This approach to reading, allows students to be working at their individual level.
We utilize the six traits of writing which include ideas, sentence fluency, organization, word choice, voice, and conventions. In kindergarten we start with students being able to write a properly punctuated sentence, and by the end of fifth grade students should be able to write a well-written five paragraph essay.
Knowing the importance of understanding the why as well as the how (algorithms) behind math, we utilize Singapore Math. Singapore Math helps our students gain a strong foundation of number sense and understanding. It involves students in learning through the following steps: the use of manipulatives (concrete), then drawings (pictorial), and lastly through symbols (abstract.)
In kindergarten we begin our journey helping students gain an understanding of themselves, in first grade we look at our families, second grade is our community, third grade is our city and state, fourth grade is our region, the 50 states and the history up through the civil war, and in fifth grade we study our nation’s history past the civil war. Students learn map skills and are introduced to economics.
We study God’s world through experimentation. In fifth grade they are able to join the Middle School Science Fair. Students are taught the scientific method culminating in a fifth grade science fair.
The uniqueness of what we have to offer comes through the dedicated, quality staff that provides students with an authentic Christian example of how to walk in obedience to Christ. All of our teachers and staff desire to come alongside parents and partner with them. The teachers are continually growing in their craft and desire to impact the hearts of students.