UPPER ELEMENTARY (4th to 6th grade)
The Upper Elementary student is a capable young person ready to tackle the challenges that the St. Stephen’s curriculum offers at this level. For the younger child, the emphasis has been on “learning to read.” The student in Upper Elementary now “reads to learn.” Students are drawn to explore all aspects of the world and their interrelationships. A major focus at this level is in-depth study of the cultural areas: history, geography, and the sciences.
Organizational skills are learned and include note-taking, outlining, and creating a bibliography. Growth in written language occurs as the student gathers his or her findings and prepares reports. Students gradually acquire public speaking skills, and they frequently present their completed research, along with related exhibits to other students.
A concerted effort is made to link school-based learning to the real world. Students, both as a class and in small groups, participate in many “going out” excursions that relate to cultural studies. The school’s location in proximity to the museum and theater districts encourages frequent and diverse cultural opportunities away from campus.* Overnight excursions provide additional opportunities to enhance this level’s objectives of independence, community, and environmental studies.* Students also move away from using concrete manipulative material to working in the abstract. There is a distinct shift away from teaching the students how to do something-developmentally appropriate at an earlier age, toward looking for evidence of mastery in the students’ completed work. Students continue to review all needed skills and information learned earlier. They make advances in the basic content areas of math, geometry and language arts. Students read age-appropriate literary classics and discuss them. They are encouraged to utilize higher-level thinking skills, including analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
In the classroom, increased emphasis is placed on self-management. Students are given weeklong assignments and are guided to plan and organize their work and their time. St. Stephen’s students will continue to use these skills throughout their lives. Their days are busy participating in numerous activities such as Spanish, music, art, and wellness, which are integral components of the school program. In addition, they attend a weekly chapel service. St. Stephen’s value and respect for each child is apparent in the daily life of the Upper Elementary student. Students come together frequently for community meetings, where the focus is on communication and group problem-solving. Students are encouraged to listen to each other and to consider all sides of a problem before drawing conclusions. In this way, the community meeting mirrors the democratic processes of society. Children at this level also begin to participate in meaningful community service within the school community.
Students who complete the Upper Elementary program are competent, capable, caring young people who are well prepared for the secondary level of their education.
* Unfortunately, on hold due to COVID-19.