The Lower School’s primary instructional goal is to provide a challenging, yet sequential and developmentally appropriate curriculum for all students. With a personalized, adaptable program which integrates into the whole school curriculum, the Lower School teachers strive to meet individual learning styles and differences while helping each student to reach his/her potential. With a flexible daily schedule, all Lower School students receive reading, language arts as well as math instruction simultaneously in the morning. Through teacher recommendations, annual placements assessments, and the demonstration of academic and developmental readiness, each student is encouraged to work at his or her level. A student may work one level ahead in a specific subject or may be encouraged to repeat a level of proficiency is not demonstrated. This may be done while the student remains with her or her peers for all other Lower School activities. The core academic courses follow a spiral philosophy. Daily, previous concepts are reinforced and reviewed while new instruction is introduced. This enables each student to work at an achievable level while building a strong foundation to become a successful, productive citizen of our school and the world beyond.
The revised Open Court Reading program is used in grades one and two. Open Court provides a balanced, systematic direct instruction in sound and word recognition, guided practice of written text, and application of skills with extensive reading of decodable text and authentic literature. From the beginning our Lower School students are exposed to a variety of writing styles and genre as well as strategies to comprehend real world text. Grades three through six use the MacMillan/McGraw Hill reading series as the core. Comprehension strategies, vocabulary building skills, and reading fluency are presented for individual and group instruction. Research and study skills are strong components in the program. Grades three through six must complete monthly book reports. A specific genre is chosen for the children to explore and then complete a class activity. To further enhance the child’s reading skills all students must complete a summer reading requirement specific to his/her rising grade level. It is the goal of the summer reading program to provide a diverse selection of books to be explored and enjoyed. Various activities centered around these books are completed at the beginning of the school year.
In addition to reading and mathematics, the core curriculum branches to language arts, science, and social studies. The language arts program consists of three main components:
- DOL (Daily Oral Language)
- Writing Mechanics
A personal writing portfolio is begun when a child enters the Lower School. Each year personal writing samples are added to show a progression and growth. This writing portfolio is a valuable assessment tool as it travels with the student throughout his or her Lower School career at WCDS.
Envision Math (Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, 2010) was adopted for use in grades K-6. The problem-based interactive curriculum utilizes the Promethean Panel as lessons begin with exploration and strategic thinking. It provides each student with the perfect bridge between interactive learning and practice. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are the focus of instruction. The students move from pictorial to abstract thinking as each lesson progresses. Emphasis is placed on reasoning rather than rote memorization of facts. Ongoing review of previously taught skills ensures proficiency and retention of taught concepts. Children and their parents may access the textbooks, homework, and enrichment activities online.
Scott Foresman Science was adopted for grades K-8. The interactive program utilizing the Promethean board is built on three levels of inquiry: teacher directs the activity; teacher guides the activity as students take more ownership of the inquiry process; teacher facilitates full inquiry as the students take the lead in conducting the experiment. All levels emphasize the scientific process, culminating in experiential activities to reach a conclusion. Children and their parents may access the textbooks and enrichment activities online.
In grade one, teacher-generated units are integrated with the reading program regarding the child and family. A year long study of the United States Presidents help your child begin to appreciate our nation’s history. The second grade and third grade concentrate on map skills, neighborhoods and communities. Grade three also explores different communities around the world using National Geographic Communities. The fourth grade explores our state, North Carolina. The fifth grade studies the United States using National Geographic United States Adventures in Time and Place. The sixth grade studies explore world history using MyWorld.
All Lower School students expand their knowledge with readings, class lectures, guest lecturers, individual projects, and class field trips.
The modern language program in the Lower School begins in the Early Years. Children have Spanish instruction for a half hour, three days a week. First through sixth grade students participate in language learning every other day. Students begin with a verbal introduction to Spanish at the Early Years level. Each year they progress in our spiral language program; concepts are reinforced and expanded upon. In addition, various means of acquiring the language are practiced, such as verbal, auditory, and writing activities. The modern language program at WCDS is designed to provide each student with the opportunity to acquire a second language, and to prepare him or her for expanded Spanish language opportunities in the Upper School.
The Lower School Music program of Wayne Country Day School uses the Orff-Schulwerk approach in teaching the students the elements of music. The goal of Orff-Schulwerk is to create a magical, joyful, and game-like atmosphere in which a student can learn to read, write, perform, analyze, and create music. Music activities are highly sequential, skill related, and focus primarily on the five elements of music; rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, and form. Unlike most methods, the Orff-Schulwerk approach is bound by no textbook, or repertoire of teaching material. It draws from folk music, poetry and original melodies. The singing and playing of pitched and unpitched percussion instruments along with creative movement is used to provide verbal, musical and corporeal expression. With Orff-Schulwerk, music is used as a vehicle in developing self-awareness, self-involvement, discipline, confidence, creativity and sensitivity.
Our Physical Education department provides a structured program to instill a desire for lifetime health and physical fitness. Beginning in the Preschool and continuing into High School, our emphasis is upon the individual: encouraging your student to emulate the classic goal of maintaining a healthy mind in a healthy body. Physical activities, both competitive and noncompetitive, are blended with the overarching philosophy of full participation and team building. At the end of the day, we believe that the desire to achieve both physically and mentally is essential in the education of the whole child. Assessments in physical fitness mark the beginning and end of each school year. In this way, you and your child are able to chart the progress achieved during the course of the year. Nutrition and healthy living choices are taught, and students are encouraged to share their daily experiences. We incorporate our cultural heritage by providing age appropriate units in ethnic dancing and music. Ultimately we want students to learn about different sports and activities that they can use for life-long fitness and health.
The Lower School Art Program’s emphasis is on creating works of art that translate personal expression, technique, imagery and design. We encourage critical and creative problem-solving, and through choice and autonomy, students are able to explore personal interests, self-expression and make statements through their art. Students will be acquainted with art elements, principles, experiences and the materials of artistic expression. Through various artistic methods (e.g., painting, drawing, craft- making, etc.), children are taught to create pictures and objects and also to express their feelings and showcase their understanding of the world around them by using their imagination. Students will work individually, and collaboratively on large-scale class projects, as well as personal art projects. Students will use art to deepen awareness of themselves and their community through an open-ended, exploratory, and highly imaginative classroom environment. The Lower School Art Program believes there is creative potential in all children!