The core academic subjects in the grade-level homerooms are complemented by the six "specialist" subjects. All children at every grade level study science, Spanish, art, music and movement, and physical education with faculty members who specialize in that discipline. Students also visit the Lower School library regularly to interact with the dedicated Lower School librarian, choose new reading material, and develop their media and research skills. the Lower School technology coordinator regularly teaches technology skills and concepts with in the context of homeroom and specialist courses.
Starting in Kindergarten, Lower School students are immersed in the practices of scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. Students investigate the world around them, become observers of natural phenomena, and enjoy the process of discovery. Students creatively problem solve, learn to implement and communicate the steps of the scientific process, and experience to hands-on engineering, computer programming, and robotics projects. The curriculum focuses on developmentally-appropriate content within the fields of life science, physical science, and earth science as investigated through experiments and projects. Each year students will engage in either a long-term laboratory investigation, engineering design, or computer programming and robotics project that will be shared with the larger community.
Spanish classes emphasize exposure to Spanish language and culture through creative and interactive games, songs, stories, skits, puppet shows, movement, and conversation to help students develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The curriculum fosters interdisciplinary integration with homeroom thematic units and an understanding of Spanish-speaking cultures around the world. Students who join SPA in Grades 3-5 take a Spanish Mini in addition to their regularly-scheduled Spanish class to help develop their vocabulary and foundational Spanish skills. By the end of Grade 5, students have completed the first half of a beginning high school Spanish course. This enables them to move faster through the Middle School program if they choose to continue with Spanish in Grade 6.
In the Lower School, art is an essential part of day-to-day life. Guided by two experienced artist/teachers in two well-equipped studios, art classes promote exploration and self-expression through various media and styles. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 5 work with drawing, painting, printmaking, and various sculpture mediums. Inspiration is drawn from the work of famous artists, cultural art forms, and interdisciplinary connections. Student work is proudly displayed throughout the Goodrich campus.
Students attend music classes twice per six-day rotation, and are taught by teachers trained in the Orff-Schulwerk approach. Instruction in singing, movement, instruments, and speech guides students through exploration, improvisation, and composition. Students performing on stage and sharing in the music class setting are important parts of the music experience in the Lower School. When students move to the Middle School, they continue their music coursework in choir, band, or orchestra.
Students participate in physical education classes three times per six-day rotation. Teachers engage, instruct, and encourage each student in the areas of physical fitness, basic skill development, sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation, problem-solving, creativity, and positive leadership.
In Grades K-2, students visit the library once per 6-day rotation to learn the basics of using the library and to check out "just right" and high-interest books for independent reading. In Grades 3-5, students focus on growing and honing their research skills, including working with the library catalog, identifying independent reading choices, as well as reading the Maud Hart Lovelace nominees and participating in our annual Quiz Bowl. The librarian works closely with classroom teachers to develop homeroom-based book talks, lessons, and research support with a flexible schedule.
SPA takes a holistic approach to technology in the Lower School. Rather than offering instruction in how to use computers or devices--skills many children have already mastered by Kindergarten--we have developed a broad curricular initiative focued on technology, creativity, and innovation. The initiative involves three strands of skill development: computers and other devices as learning tools; computer science and engineering skills; and Maker education. Together, these three strands give students the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking that can also be applied to the academic subjects they study in their homerooms and with the specialists. Our full-time Lower School Technology Coordinator oversees technology initiatives in close collaboration with the homeroom and specialist teachers.
Visit the Academic Technology page to learn more about technology in the Lower School.