We asked a few Lower School students what they love about Bear Creek.
Lower School (K – 4)
The Lower School years are full of energy and excitement as strong foundations are laid for life-long learning. Our Lower School curriculum is built upon proven brain-based and educational research, and we are consistently amazed by what our students can accomplish.
Small Class Sizes
Small classes averaging 16 – 18, allow each student to be known as a unique individual and enable our teachers to nurture each student’s academic, social, spiritual, and emotional needs.
We have chosen curriculum for each grade level in every subject area that we believe is challenging and interesting. 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 thirty years.
Reading is the single most important skill that a child will learn in school. Our reading instruction begins in kindergarten and is built on a phonics-based approach. An understanding of phonics is the key that enables students to decode words. As decoding skills increase, the primary emphasis is on comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. Students are instructed in specific comprehension strategies in order to improve their understanding of any type of text. In grades K – 2 the reading instruction is individualized so that students are challenged to excel and progress to levels beyond their grade level. In grades 3 – 4 we use a literature-based approach as students grow in their comprehension and vocabulary through analysis of the literature.
The Shurley Grammar program used in grades 1 – 4 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.
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. We have a young author's fair each spring where every student displays a piece of writing from the school year.
The Spalding method used in grades K – 4 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).
Our lab-based science program is designed to equip our young students to think well and to be compelled by their faith to know science and apply that knowledge in innovative ways. A science specialist is dedicated to preparing our young scientists in the Lower School. From exploration to engaging the scientific method, students refine discovery, analysis, and research skills.
Each grade studies topics in earth science, life science, and physical science. The classroom experiences and the lab are integrated to encourage students to want to know more as they master content, learn the scientific method, and successfully draw conclusions. In kindergarten, our DIG (Discovering and Investigating God’s Creation) is an outdoor science experience which helps students explore God’s creation. The annual Science Fair is a culmination event for the entire community, where students display and present their scientific discoveries. Grade 3 students exhibit a research paper and visual presentation board.
Preschool and kindergarten students Discover and Investigate God's (DIG) creation
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 1 – 6 we 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.
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 1 – 4 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 visual and performing arts programs include an art specialist, art docent-led in-classroom art lessons, and live dramatic and music performances. As part of the music curriculum, all students in grades 3 and 4 learn to read music and play the recorder. General music class is part of the curriculum in all Lower School grades.
Learn more about Lower School Arts at Bear Creek.
Innovation and Technology
Technical and digital literacy is a critical competency in today’s world. Students develop skills utilizing various software, hardware, and web-based tools while learning to apply basic engineering principles of creative problem solving, collaboration, and structural design. In grades 1 – 6, students explore keyboarding, graphic design, and learn basic programming.
Our coding program is designed towards creative computing. All tools used to teach (such as unplugged activities, arts, stories, and games) are design based. Students design creations, personalize them, collaborate with peers, and then reflect on and rethink their ideas. Students create their own projects, bring their own imagination to paper, and then work towards creating it with Scratch.
Students use the computer as a tool to increase their learning in subjects they are studying in the classroom and to conduct research. In grade 3, keyboarding is taught intentionally. They progress through a series of computer skills and learn many applications including Publisher, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.
It is important for students to understand the world around them and have 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. In grades 2 – 12, students spiral through the study of ancient, Medieval, and modern history three times.
Students learn about the grand narrative of the Christian faith by studying the Bible. They study the people, places, and events in the Bible. They are taught a cohesive framework for Christianity and understand where they fit into God’s plan for His people.
Songs, games, drama, and other fun activities help students learn vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language. Students study five languages in kindergarten, Spanish in grades 1 – 2, and Latin in grades 3 – 4.
Learning Latin helps students better understand English vocabulary and complex grammatical concepts. Latin also improves analytical and problem solving skills and exposes students to culture and linguistic history. Students in grades 3 – 4 receive Latin instruction which provides an excellent foundation for future language acquisition. Latin instruction is continued through grade 8 at Bear Creek.
Physical Education is a bi-weekly part of our curriculum.
Frequent field trips give students the opportunity to experience hands-on learning. Field trips are integral to the overall curricular plan because they help students directly apply their learning in a variety of settings outside the classroom.
Students in grade 4 investigate and experience theater by studying and performing classical Shakespeare. All Lower School students attend these drama performances. This unique window into the world of Elizabethan drama provides an exceptional platform to teach about the human condition and make
- Computer Programming (1 – 4)
- Library: Information Literacy
- Physical Education
- Science Lab/DIG
- Spanish/Latin (1 – 4)
See our Student Life section to learn more about our Lower School experience.