The curriculum is mapped out from kindergarten through grade 12 to ensure that the students follow a logical sequence of learning from one grade to the next. In following the classical tradition, the program is designed to be foundational; students continue to build on information and skills they have learned the previous years. Teachers work together to augment the curriculum and compliment one another's strengths.
Teachers have chosen curriculum for each grade-level in every subject area that is challenging and interesting. In many educational settings, once a weakness is found in a publisher, they get rid of it and adopt a new curriculum over and over again without ever strengthening it. We continue to evaluate and change our curriculum as needed, bringing in more effective tools and new methodologies where they may benefit our program. Because of this, our excellent curriculum has continued to grow stronger and stronger over the past twenty-five years.
Reading - Reading is the single most important skill that a child will learn in school. In grades 5-6, we use a literature-based approach as students grow in their comprehension and vocabulary through analysis of the literature.
Grammar - In grade 5, we continue to use the Shurley Grammar program which progressively teaches students to understand all the words in a sentence and how they relate to one another. Students are taught that each part of speech has a particular function within every sentence. Shurley Grammar uses repetition, builds one concept upon another, and teaches students how to perform a critical analysis of entire sentences. These skills are foundational for writing with clarity and precision. In grade 6, the grammar curriculum is Easy Grammar and focus on parts of speech.
Writing - The writing skills taught build on each other from grade level to grade level. Students are given instruction in poetry, essays, creative writing, report writing, and persuasive writing. At the Authors & Artists event each spring each student displays a piece of writing from the school year.
Spelling - In grades 5-6, we continue to use the Spalding method to teach spelling. It is a multi-sensory approach where students learn to spell by saying, hearing, writing, and seeing, thereby using all avenues to the brain. The students memorize 70 phonograms and the letters or group of letters that represent one sound. The students apply their knowledge of phonograms and English rules to analyze and spell the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language (the Ayre's List).
As a K-12 school, it is exciting to see how a comprehensive curriculum that builds on the knowledge base each year can benefit our students greatly when they reach the Upper School level and are taking AP science courses. Students study science in the classroom regularly and also attend a science lab each week. In the lab, they perform experiments and use lab notebooks to learn the scientific method.
It is important for students to understand the world around them and have a knowledge about historical events and how they impact the world today. Students study cultures in countries around the world as well as our own community, state, and nation.
Our goal in mathematics is to give the students a solid foundation in skills and knowledge while expanding their critical thinking and problem solving abilities. In grades 5-6 we continue to use Saxon as the core curriculum and enrich with problem solving and critical thinking exercises. Saxon is a hands-on mastery-oriented program that introduces and practices new skills each lesson, then gives independent practice on previously introduced skills so the students constantly review concepts. Assessments are given weekly to ensure mastery of concepts.
Math Placement - We are committed to challenging our students to go as far as possible in their math skills and to keep the math instruction at a pace that is appropriate for each student's development. Students in grades 5-6 are evaluated at the end of the previous school year and placed in a math class that is the best fit for them, either at grade level or above grade level. All math classes are offered simultaneously so that students can move to the appropriate class for that instructional period.
Our Bible curriculum allows students to walk through Bible history as well as study Bible characters in depth. At each grade level, character qualities associated with the Bible lessons are taught, modeled, and put into practice.
All students in grade 5-6 spend at least an hour each week in the mobile and/or library computer lab. Students use the computer as a tool to increase their learning in subjects that they are studying in the classroom and to conduct research. They also progress through a series of computer skills and learn many applications including Publisher, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. Additionally, students receive weekly instruction in basic computer programming using Scratch from our Computer Science Specialist. The goal is not to turn each student into a programmer, but to stimulate curiosity and "bilingual" exposure to a modern language that will be even more ubiquitous in the future.
Songs, games, drama, and other fun activities help students learn vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language. Students study Latin in grades 5-6.
Physical Education is a bi-weekly part of our curriculum.
Each Early Middle School class takes one field trip each month. The field trips enhance the student learning in a particular area of study by giving them hands-on, real-life experience. Additionally, grade 5 students participate together in a culminating overnight Outdoor Education field trip. Grade 6 takes an extended day field trip to Mt. St. Helens to enhance their study of volcanoes.