Lower school classes are taught by experienced, certified teachers who work as partners at the grade level and as a divisional team to ensure a comprehensive and cohesive core curriculum in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Students also participate in music, French, physical education, science lab, art, library and computer technology. The lower school program provides support and enrichment in math, science, and reading through additional personnel with specific expertise in these areas. Participation in grade-level plays, holiday program performances and a fully integrated school-wide study of ancient civilizations are a traditional part of the elementary school experience at Southfield. Additionally, lower school students may take piano and Suzuki strings lessons during the school day. Lower school students also take several field trips a year to extend learning.
Southfield Lower School Curriculum
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Centered on the phonetic based Rowland Reading Program (PS4-2nd) and Open Court Reading Series (3rd-4th), the Language Arts curriculum is a comprehensive and integrated experience that includes reading, writing, comprehension, vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, speaking and listening. Ultimately, children are expected to understand and practice the writing process through original, creative stories and expository essays, and they learn to read, enjoy and study novels of diverse genres.
The University of Chicago Everyday Mathematics curriculum is used to teach math in lower school and is guided and enriched by a math specialist. The program is organized into several content strands within which all learning goals are categorized: operations and computation, numeration, patterns, functions and algebra, data and chance, measurement and reference frames, and geometry. The curriculum features real-life problem solving, reinforcement and extension of basic skills, an emphasis on communication, the integration of mathematics into other areas, and the appropriate use of technology. Mathematical skills and concepts are revisited, developed and extended in a variety of ways, creating an exciting learning spiral over time.
The curriculum focuses on studying the discovery, exploration and cultural, historical development of North America from Native Americans to the present day. Each grade level also reads, researches and learns about an ancient civilization (Vikings, Middle Ages, Egyptians, and Greeks) during a school-wide celebration of world history.
The support, guidance, and expertise of a lower school science specialist enable children to participate in hands-on experimentation in the school science laboratory. Topics include diverse ecosystems and habitats, organs, and systems of the human body, the solar system and physical science topics such as magnets, pulleys, and simple machines. A main goal of the science program is to develop inquiring minds that can fully utilize the scientific research process.
The intelligent use and appreciation of modern technology have always been a top priority at Southfield School. Students attend technology class twice a week. They use interactive software that enriches their curriculum and further challenges their skills in math and language arts. Students also learn keyboarding, advanced word processing, and PowerPoint skills. Also, lower school students use iPads to enhance their learning. First and Second-grade students utilize iPad centers in the classrooms while third and fourth-grade students benefit from having individual iPads also used in the classrooms.
Lower School Enrichment Classes
The music program includes singing, movement, playing instruments, folk dance, basic music reading skills, listening skills, and music appreciation. Additionally, children participate in special programs and grade-level musicals that include singing, dancing, and acting.
Students are immersed in the wonderfully creative world of art through hands-on activities, the study of masterworks and contemporary works and a variety of artistic media. Principles of design and elements of art are introduced and reinforced, and historical and cultural art assignments are used to integrate art into classroom studies.
Students are taught French by the Accelerated Integrative Method of Language Learning found in the Histoires en Action curriculum. This program, which requires that only French be spoken in classes, leads to a goal of communicative competence in oral and written French. Children interact with the instructor and perform plays exclusively in French.
Elementary children participate in a variety of fun games and activities that promote overall physical fitness. They also begin to work on team building and sportsmanship skills. During the elementary years, basic body movement and fundamental locomotor skills are introduced and developed for continued improvement to aid in the enjoyment of physical activity throughout a child’s school experience.
All Lower School classes visit the library weekly. The library is also open to students to visit on their own as a way of encouraging independent reading.