Lower School Curriculum

Literacy

Reading: All students are moving towards full reading fluency. The emphasis in kindergarten through second grade is developing strong decoding skills while learning to read. Then in grades 3 through 5, the focus is on learning to read across disciplines. Our novel-based approach to instruction offers young readers daily opportunities to make connections, predict, infer, and derive meaning. We expose children to a wide variety of genres and give them the tools to achieve a deep understanding of text, so ultimately they attain a more perfect appreciation of literature, as well as a hearty spirit of inquiry.
 
Writing: Lower School students grow into effective creative and analytical writers. We deliver classroom instruction along with personalized attention that builds each writer’s unique skill set. In kindergarten through second grade, children learn about sentence structure, mechanics, and presentation. These basic elements of written language lay a critical foundation for more complex endeavors down the road. Our older girls in grades 3 through 5 are then equipped to incorporate more sophisticated concepts into their work, such as organization, internal structure, word choice, and voice. All grades complete formal projects that cross various genres, while inspiring heart in the writing process.

Math

The Lower School math program is founded on best practices and research-based mathematics education. The goal of the program is to help our girls construct deep conceptual understanding, build strong problem-solving skills, and develop computational fluency. From the earliest age, students are driven to develop a clear number sense that gives them confidence and power over numbers and computation. They analyze mathematical relationships, build their geometric and numeric reasoning, and draw conclusions from this deeper thinking. An emphasis on understanding allows students to construct meaning and think flexibly about procedures that are efficient and effective. It is our hope that our approach to math instruction will empower our girls to feel increasingly confident about their mathematical ability and understanding. This confidence and depth of understanding will expand their future possibilities in all STEM fields.

Science

All science units in grades K-5 derive from the Next Generation Science Standards and engage girls in the areas of life science, Earth and space science, physical science, and engineering design. Units are hands-on and performance-based, and they strive to enhance our girls’ natural curiosity. As girls explore the science content and how it connects to the natural world, they develop key learning skills: communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem-solving, resilience, and flexibility.

Social Studies

The purpose of the social studies curriculum is for students to understand their place in the global community and in historical time. Starting with understanding self and family, students progress to understanding local, city, state, country, and global communities. Geography and research are integrated throughout the curriculum. An emphasis is placed on the power of the individual to impact the world in which we live.

World Languages

Three languages are offered in the lower school: Chinese, French, and Spanish. In kindergarten through second grade, students use each language with an emphasis on oral communication reinforced through songs, games, role playing, language-based websites, and a broad survey of the cultural aspects of each language. In grades 3 through 5, students focus on one language, utilizing a variety of learning tools, such as total physical response, Symtalk (a visual language learning methodology), poems, and plays. Writing and reading skills are developed with the support of books, audio, and interactive technology.

Music

Music uses a combination of Orff and Kodaly teaching methodologies. The Kodaly method is based primarily on singing and follows a child-developmental approach to learning basic rhythms and intervals. For example, children learn quarter notes and eighth notes first, since these rhythms can be related to their walking and running paces. These rhythms are also the building blocks of most of the folk songs and games we play in class. The Orff method utilizes singing, moving, speaking, and various instruments (both pitched and unpitched). The Orff instruments provide an ideal medium for texture and color exploration and provide a visual representation of pitch relationships that becomes especially useful when learning to read music. Playing in an instrumental ensemble requires focus, cooperation and an ability to hear one’s part within the whole. As children progress through the program, they begin to improvise and compose their own music and accompaniments to poems, rhymes and simple folk songs.

Dance

The Lower School dance program introduces emerging to developing techniques, and students evolve throughout the various levels of instruction. Using a variety of dance styles, such as pre-ballet, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, partner work, and choreography, the dancers mature in their overall knowledge of many styles and forms. Emphasis is placed on motor control skills, spatial and motor awareness, muscular development, core conditioning, stretching, yoga, and posture. Dance classes are specifically designed to support multiple learning styles. Dancers work together in ensembles, to engage in and connect with problem-solving activities, teamwork, and leadership skills.  

Art

The Lower School art curriculum covers many of the skills necessary for meaningful self-expression. These skills include use of shapes (both geometric and free form), understanding the color wheel, and qualities of 2-D and 3-D design, as well as composition, using balance, and spatial relationships. The Lower School curriculum also incorporates a historical perspective that includes art units inspired by famous artists and varied cultures. Some examples of these artistic influences are Warhol, Chagall, Kahlo, Matisse, and Monet, as well as cultural inspirations from the Ancient Egyptians, Greco-Roman bas reliefs and mosaics, Native American artifacts, Peruvian weavings, and African tribal masks. Art movements are also incorporated into the curriculum units, such as Pop Art self-portraits, Surrealist paintings, Impressionist landscapes, and Cubist compositions. Students in the Lower School are encouraged to utilize artistic expression within a variety of media and techniques to extend their learning inside and outside the classroom. Media that are explored include everything from painting, drawing and collage, to beading, building, and sculpture. Students at RPCS can stretch their imaginations and intellects because of their involvement in the visual arts.

Physical Education

PE in the Lower School strives to provide the best opportunity for physical activity for students. The goal is to develop healthy, responsible students who have the knowledge, skills and mindset to work together in groups, think critically, and participate in a variety of activities that lead to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Technology

Roland Park Country School believes that technology can foster and ignite some of the most creative ideas. With our 1:1 iPad program and dedicated innovation space, we offer students endless ways to be curious and creative. Our technology program provides tools that are completely integrated into our classrooms and support learning across all content areas. This integration gives students purposeful access to research tools, digital libraries, content-specific applications, and creative tools. Our innovation space offers a dedicated makerspace filled with state-of-the-art 3-D printers, building tools, green screens, and materials for students to design and develop their ideas. The Lower School has a dedicated technology integrationist to help provide instruction and support for students, as well as learning opportunities and technology integration planning for our faculty.

Values, Character Education and Social Emotional Learning

At each grade level of the Lower School, girls’ social and emotional intelligence is intentionally developed. This attention to the whole child is woven into every activity, not just a once-a-week course. Through the use of Responsive Classroom and The Toolbox Project curriculum, girls in grades K-5 learn how to recognize the traits in themselves and others that lead to healthy relationships and a sense of personal well-being. Toolbox lessons are taught by the Lower School counselor to give the girls access to the twelve tools within themselves that build self-regulation skills. The Responsive Classroom approach fosters respect and empathy. In addition, daily Morning Meeting time is used to build an understanding of unique qualities of culture, race, and circumstance that enrich our community. Our girls leave Lower School with a moral compass, prepared to see the good in others and appreciate the good within themselves.