Lower School Curriculum
Primary School (K-2)
Reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic are the foundation upon which the tower of learning is built, and they are given the highest priority in K-2. The basic skills, work habits, and attitudes formed in the primary years are of critical importance.
Phonics, Spelling, & Reading
Our primary school phonics instruction focuses on vowel mastery, consonant sounds, work formation, and multi-letter blends. Children are taught how to decode the English language through an intensive phonics and reading program.
Phonics and spelling continue in first and second grades using the Classical Phonics series and phonics concepts are reinforced in the spelling program. In first grade, students continue to develop reading comprehension with whole books, which captivate and motivate children and are preferred over basal readers. Teachers monitor student reading skills through daily oral reading. First graders read children’s classics such as Little Bear, Caps For Sale, The Story About Ping, and Billy and Blaze. Second graders read The Courage of Sarah Noble, Little House in the Big Woods, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Correct letter formation and beautiful handwriting are highly valued in our primary school. Copybook is a critical step in developing good penmanship, punctuation, and spelling. Habits of good penmanship are instilled early and required at every grade level by every teacher. After mastering manuscript in kindergarten, students begin writing in cursive during first grade. Beginning in second grade, students complete all work in cursive.
Immediate recall of addition and subtraction facts through 18 is the focus in primary school. Number formation, counting, time, calendar, measurement, and money are the initial skills of K-2. In second grade, the students begin multiplication with the 1x, 2x, 5x, and 10x facts. Students learn number sense by skip-counting, games, and speed drills, all of which make math time enjoyable.
Second grade Prima Latina uses a clear and systematic format to introduce Latin to young students. It teaches important English and Latin grammar concepts, as well as vocabulary, sayings, prayers, hymns, and constellations.
Students read and discuss Bible stories, memorize Scripture verses, learn prayers, and experience the rich teachings of Christianity across all subjects.
Geography, History, and Science
Geography, history, and science are covered in our Read-Aloud Program. Each book is read aloud every day and is accompanied by oral questions and discussion. These books provide a rich language experience for students.
K-2 students study globes and maps to learn continents, oceans, major countries, and basic geography terms. Second graders are introduced to states and capitals. In science, students learn about seasons, weather, and local flora and fauna.
Grammar School (3-6)
Grammar school continues to reinforce the important academic and social skills emphasized in the primary school:
- Quality written work completed in a timely manner
- Legible penmanship and accurate spelling
- Speed and accuracy in arithmetic
- Reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition
- Memorization of poetry and Scripture
- Appropriate classroom behavior
- Discipline and self-control
- Good manners and respect for adults and classmates
Students learn from well-designed materials, high quality content, and teacher-directed lessons. Classrooms are quiet, disciplined, and orderly, with minimal visual distractions. Students are motivated to work and learn because they are led by knowledgeable, enthusiastic teachers. Students work hard and are rewarded every day with breaks for physical exercise, music, drawing, art, and review games.
Students in grades 3-6 are carefully prepared for the reading of classic literature and history, and for advanced math and science which begin in the Upper School in grade 7.
For English grammar and composition, students master the 100 fundamental English grammar rules and write and illustrate one in-class composition each week. In math, the Mennonite publisher Rod and Staff, produces traditional textbooks that provide uncluttered pages and clear instructions. Students continue mastering all facts with an emphasis on accuracy and speed. The science curriculum develops the observational skills that lie at the heart of the scientific endeavor. Students study constellations, the solar system, invertebrates, insects, vertebrates, birds, plants, and tree identification. The very best in English literature and poetry are taught in depth using detailed study guides. In American/Modern Studies students focus on states, capitals, and world geography in grades 3-5, and American history in grade 6. In Latin, students memorize the complete Latin grammar and a Latin vocabulary of about 800 words. Students study Greek myths and Greek, Roman, and Medieval history. Students learn all major Bible stories and memorize more than ninety of the most memorable and poetic verses of the King James Bible.
All lessons are teacher directed. Students are given ample time to complete classroom assignments, which are carefully monitored so that students learn to do quality written work in a timely fashion. All material is covered carefully in class. Students who are attentive and work diligently in class should have no more than 20-30 minutes of homework each night.