The Lower Elementary child has many new needs and interests. He or she has a newly found sense of independence and an awareness of both the small society of the classroom and the larger society of the world. The child now thinks with an inquiring mind and wants to explore the “why,” “when,” and “how” of the concrete facts they already know. The Lower Elementary program is designed to address these new sensitivities and concerns for the six- to nine-year-old student.
At St. Stephen’s, the Lower Elementary curriculum far exceeds state standards in all areas. A main goal of the Lower Elementary program is mastery of math and language art skills. The child learns these skills and arrives at a clear understanding of abstract concepts through personal use of carefully planned progression of manipulative materials in each area. This highly-structured approach fosters individual success.
In addition to daily work on these basic competencies, the interests of the six to nine-year-old are captured by science, history, and geography. Broad concepts are first explored and then specific details are examined in depth. The children are introduced to the process of research and frequently work in small groups to discover additional information. This research work provides an opportunity for the children to utilize the basic skills they are acquiring in a meaningful way. Through this small group work, children also learn about the importance of sharing and taking turns in a leadership role. The teachers also plan field trips, which correlate with classroom studies and the children’s research interests and projects. Fine arts, music, wellness, Spanish, and weekly chapel enrich the class’s experiences.
Gaining Confidence, Giving Respect
A child of this age is learning to think for him or herself and to take responsibility for the completion of work. The teacher is an active participant in helping the child to develop basic time management skills.
Respect is the underlying theme for all that occurs at St. Stephen’s. The Lower Elementary class operates as a small community that mirrors the larger one of society. Children are guided to understand that they are responsible for their choices and accountable to the group. Class meetings include discussions on issues of general concern. The focus of these meetings is kindness and respect.
At St. Stephen’s, children leave the Lower Elementary program feeling good about themselves and their capabilities. Students are well rounded academically and are curious, busy learners. They have developed a sense of who they are and their place within the community and are eager to contribute to the group as a whole.