During the first year in the lower school, students are introduced to routines that set the foundation for academic success. For the first time, students have their own desks and weekday homework, and their new uniforms mark this important transition.
Instruction combines whole class, small group, and individual learning experiences. Reading, writing, math, science, social studies, secondary language, and the arts are balanced with daily physical education classes and recess on the playdeck. Students also attend Chapel service every day and meet with the school’s chaplain to explore spiritual values.
In first grade, we stress the acquisition of reading through a traditional phonics-based program that also includes instruction in other strategies for learning how to read. Students meet daily in teacher-led reading groups to develop and practice their reading skills, and they enjoy group book discussions. Students focus on sight-word recognition, and they create personal dictionaries throughout the year to complement their reading.
First grade students practice good study skills through weekly spelling tests, and they develop pride in their work as teachers also emphasize proper letter formation and handwriting. The first grade writing program culminates in the spring with the Writer’s Breakfast. Students present two pieces of original writing that demonstrate their mastery of the writing process, from draft to revisions to final product—with illustrations!
The social studies curriculum is rooted in the theme of community. Each year, students interview different members of the faculty. From kitchen staff to head of school, the children learn about all of the important jobs that help our community to function.
Math is taught using Pearson’s EnVision program. Teachers complement this program with projects, activities, and additional materials for a hands-on, concrete experience. Students focus on addition and subtraction strategies with an introduction to place value, graphing, measurement, money, and time. A favorite annual unit in first grade is “Chip Trading,” where students work in small groups to trade chips up to 10,000. Students take turns being the bankers and workers to learn about place value, compromise, teamwork, communication skills.
Classes Taught by Specialists
- Daily Physical Education
- Music using the Kodály method
- Studio Art
- Spanish, French, or Mandarin Chinese
- Religious Knowledge
Often first graders begin the year somewhat unsure and eager for a teacher’s approval. One of the most important things that we can do is to help students understand that making mistakes is part of learning. I encourage them to experiment, to venture beyond their comfort zone, and the growth we experience together is amazing.”Bridget Lambert, First Grade Teacher, Faculty Since 2000