The Lower School is configured to meet the needs of the youngest members of the student community. It is comprised of preschool, kindergarten, and first through fifth grades.
We are a dynamic and caring learning community committed to nurturing the academic, social, and emotional growth of each and every one of our students – with expertise, energy, compassion and joy. We offer an engaging, standards-based curriculum, a variety of research-based teaching and assessment methods, and up-to-date resources.
Our educational program is advanced by a highly qualified and dedicated professional faculty comprised of homeroom and Portuguese teachers, Music, Art, PE, Library, and Multi Media Specialists. Additional student support includes a Student Services department with two learning specialists, an English Academic Language Support (EALS) department, and two guidance counselors.
Lower School Academic and Instructional Program
Preschool daily classroom schedules (ages 3-4 years) are divided in large chunks of work time and include centers (Language and Literacy, Math, Science, and Life Skills), visits to our specialist classes (art, music, PE, and library), lunch, rest, and afternoon work time. Units of study are designed to address standards in a center-based approach. These standards are based on the Common Core State Standards, National Association of Education for Young Children, and our knowledge and research of best practice and developmentally appropriate curriculum, including the Montessori Approach to learning.
Students in grades Kindergarten through Fifth grade use several different research-based curricula specific to the subject. These units of study and specific content in each subject have been aligned to the standards and the assessments within the curriculum.
Our LS math program is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) of content and practice in Mathematics. We focus on developing a deep understanding of mathematics that goes beyond rote procedures to memorize and replicate on a test. At EARJ students collaboratively to reason with and apply mathematical concepts, expressing their understanding in multiple ways.
Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Reading and Writing is from Columbia University’s Teachers College: These two curricula focus on teaching transferable strategies that extend and become more complex from unit to unit and through grades K-8. In writing, the instruction is designed to offer multiple opportunities for children to use their own writing in narrative and informational text to practice the foundational categories of structure, development, and language development. Reading text that is accessible and at their own reading level allows students to think and talk about aspects of deep comprehension, including predicting, inferring, determining the theme, and analyzing the writer’s perspective. We firmly believe that when children use their own writing and personal interests as inspiration to become better readers and writers, their engagement increases, as does their pleasure in the literacy process. Our instruction and assessment are based on or aligned to the Common Core State Standards in both subject areas.
The need for high-quality science education—beginning at the very earliest grades—is more essential now than ever before. We at EARJ recognize this and have worked to completely redesign our lower school science curriculum. Through a cross campus collaborative process, the EARJ Science Curriculum Review Team brought together administrative leadership, lower school teacher leaders, and upper school science specialists, to adopt a lower school science curriculum that is aligned to the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). NGSS describe important scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they leave the 12th grade. The standards integrate three important dimensions—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts—effectively building science concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade, while integrating important engineering concepts. To achieve the high levels of learning the NGSS calls for, we have partnered with STEMscopes, an all digital curricular resource designed at Rice University that provides hands-on, inquiry-based investigations that engage students. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have three dimensions that are integrated into instruction at all levels. These three dimensions include:
- Disciplinary Core Ideas – specific content and subject areas
- Science and Engineering practices – students are expected not just to learn content but to understand the methods of scientists and engineers
- Interdisciplinary Approach – key underlying ideas that are common to a number of themes
Social Studies academic standards are aligned with curricular frameworks that consider the essential knowledge and skills for teaching a more contemporary approach to Social Studies focused on the development of large transcendental ideas, critical thinking, relationships and intersections between different disciplines as well as skills and competencies in the social sciences (i.e. graph reading, map skills, verification of information sources, media analysis). Our program does not focus on the memorizing of facts, dates, and important people, but rather requires students to consider how these items help to understand and explain trends and patterns in human behavior and societies.
At EARJ, our students have a variety of different language experiences and needs. We have created two different strands to meet these needs. Língua Pátria (LP) is a course designed for native speakers and Brazilian Diploma candidates. We also offer three sections of Portuguese for Foreigner or non-native speakers at the beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels. Portuguese instruction begins in Kindergarten and aims to develop oral skills, as well as an awareness of the phonological system of the Portuguese language. The systematic literacy process begins only during the first grade LP classes of the Lower School, whereas the Portuguese for Foreigners tailor instruction on speaking and comprehension skills and eventually add in a written component.
The EARJ Visual Arts program creates a learning environment where students are able to create artwork that is influenced by personal and cultural contexts. Students will also develop competencies to become informed and critical observers of visual culture and media. Learning activities are designed to develop skills, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, enhance artistic understanding, and realize student potential as producers of art.
Music classes are organized to enable students to create music that is representative of different genres and contexts. The educational experience with music, through the development of knowledge and skills as music makers, allows students to become more attuned listeners and performers. The learning outcome is for EARJ students to have a breadth of understanding and appreciation for distinct movements, epochs, and compositional aspects of music production.
Our curricular program strives to develop positive attitudes and behaviors in all physical activities by emphasizing effort and improvement rather than ability or winning. The values of teamwork and sportsmanship are necessary to accomplish these objectives. By building emotional control and a sense of self-confidence, students will enhance decision-making for a healthy, physically fit life allowing for good use of leisure time and respect for oneself, others, and the natural environment.
Character Education: Our Character Count! values guide our conversations about character development. These values include respect, responsibility, caring, citizenship, fairness, and trustworthiness. As students in Lower School are exposed to more freedom and choices, we use these real situations to talk about meaningful life situations, possible responses, and their implications.