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Lower School Curriculum

In Lower School, we value social, emotional, physical, and academic growth and development. Each classroom includes two full-time instructional teachers who work to build a solid foundation of underlying skills and conceptual understanding to develop deep, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

In addition to a strong academic program, students gain skills to cultivate self-knowledge, develop empathy, and make responsible decisions. Experiences across the Lower School encourage and develop creativity, collaboration, and communication to foster lifelong, curious, joyful learners.

  • Special area classes include science, computer science, design, engineering, physical education, modern languages (French and Spanish), music, art, drama, and library.
  • Guest speakers, visiting performers and artists, and curriculum-related field trips help expand our student’s knowledge and help them grow in awareness, expression, and appreciation.
Lower School Robotics class

Developing the Whole Child

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

In the Lower School, social-emotional concepts and skills are intentionally taught, practiced, and reinforced throughout every school day. Students learn tools and strategies that help support them personally and socially, and teachers work to help them apply these inside and outside of the classroom. Our social-emotional curriculum builds on itself over the years so that children continue to hone their skills as they grow and develop. Our hope is that by the time students leave the Lower School, they are equipped with tools to know and manage themselves, be aware of others and their needs, navigate relationships, and make responsible decisions.

SEL Strands include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and personal decision making.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) is a lens through which we view all of our practice in the Lower School. We want our students to feel known and seen at school, to maintain their “eager curiosity” about difference while building their empathy and understanding of the world. We intentionally provide students with “windows” that offer a view into someone else’s experience and “mirrors” that reflect their own culture and help them build positive identities. Throughout their Lower School experience, students learn to think critically about the information they access and to explore content that provides them with a global perspective on the world. We seek to foster a sense of community responsibility and to graduate change-makers in our world. 

DEIB Strands include empathy and belonging, healthy and complex identities, respect across differences, naming bias, prejudice, and stereotypes, and taking action.


Our two Lower School counselors provide group instruction, classroom support, individual and/or family counseling if needed, and referral to outside experts when appropriate. Our counselors work with teachers to reinforce our social-emotional learning strands, such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and personal decision making.

Educational Resource Program

The Educational Resource Program (ERP) is designed to help address students’ individual learning needs, primarily related to literacy and math skills. The ERP staff assists through a variety of methods, including one-on-one tutoring and screenings for speech-language needs, occupational therapy needs, and learning differences. Learn more about our ERP.

Literacy Coach/Reading Specialist

The Literacy Coach/Reading Specialist partners with K–2 teachers to provide coaching and other professional development support that enables teachers to think reflectively about improving student learning and implementing various instructional programs and practices.
The Literacy Coach/Reading Specialist also provides small group literacy intervention. These groups provide an additional tier of support in meeting curriculum benchmarks and are designed to be short-term and flexible.

Hance Lower School Learning Center

The Hance Lower School Learning Center provides a wide array of multi-sensory learning opportunities designed for the needs of our youngest learners. Students eagerly visit the library throughout the day with their classes and in small groups to check out books that meet their personal interests and research needs. They acquire information literacy skills through guided hands-on, developmentally-appropriate lessons using a variety of media and technology tools, including iPads, eBooks, e-zines, online encyclopedias, and websites. In addition, students attend the Design Lab to engage in problem-solving, collaboration, and design thinking activities.