Lower School Curriculum
The goal of WCDS’s Lower School, grades one through six, is to provide a sequential developmentally appropriate curriculum which allows for individual learning styles and differences, while challenging each individual student to reach his or her potential. The educational program is flexible, personalized, and integrated to incorporate all aspects of the student’s life.
Currently in grades one through six there are eight different levels in both reading and math. Through teacher recommendation, annual placement assessments, and the demonstration of academic and developmental readiness, the student is encouraged to work at his or her level. Students may advance a level or may be encouraged to repeat a level if proficiency is not demonstrated. This is accomplished through the simultaneous scheduling of reading and mathematics in all lower grades.
The revised Open Court reading program is used in kindergarten through second grade because of its strong emphasis on phonics and classic literature. In grades 3-5 classical literature MacMillan-McGraw Hill series is utilized in order to provide a variety of options and interests for individual and group instruction. Library and research skills are important components of this reading program. Weekly library visits are scheduled; the librarian works closely with each classroom teacher, in order to incorporate and complement themes and units of study. In addition, students are required to complete a monthly book report encompassing both fiction and non-fiction.
The Math Advantage series stresses the use of critical thinking skills and the application of mathematical concepts through the use of numerous manipulatives.
In addition to reading and math, the core curriculum incorporates instruction in language arts, science, and social studies.
The core curriculum includes areas of language arts, science, social studies, and mathematics. Beginning at the first grade level, each student begins a writing portfolio. Samples of the student’s writings are placed in this portfolio each year to track progress and to demonstrate strengths and needs. Lower School teachers continually assess each curricular area in an effort to best meet the needs of every student. This portfolio provides an invaluable assessment tool for each successive grade level. In the area of science, the Scott Foresman Science Program was adopted for the 2000-2001 school year. It affords a strong foundation in support of the National Science Education Standards. This Science curriculum offers a rich array of options and experiences to help each student discover science in their own unique learning modality. Each science unit is based on three levels of activity, exploring activities are open-ended explorations, investigative activities incorporate new material with the content of previous lessons, and the experimental activities are cumulative. Lastly, in the social studies curriculum, grades two and three concentrate on map skills using the Scholastic Success with Map program. Teacher-generated units of study enhance the core curriculum and encourage independent learning. Fourth grade explored the home state of North Carolina , fifth grade explores the United States and its neighbors, and sixth grade studies the Eastern Hemisphere .
In the area of mathematics, The Harcourt-Brace Match Advantage program is employed. Instructional areas of this program include hands-on activities used to develop mathematical concepts, and engagement of mathematical concepts to daily life. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are the main focus of this program. Daily practice is incorporated to enhance mastery. Ongoing reviews of previously taught skills ensure retention and continues proficiency.
Spanish is taught daily using the FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) immersion program. From the first lesson, students learn to read and speak in sentences by decoding self-explanatory symbols rather than words; with repetition, they progressively acquire natural linguistic reflexes. Students begin to read and write words during their first year, with the goal of high proficiency in Spanish by the sixth grade.
Emphasis is placed on Hispanic history, geography, literature, and art. Students also study the Hispanic culture in the United States .
The Orff-Schulwerk approach to teaching music is used in the Lower School . This approach involves every child in chants, singing, ensemble, drama, movement, improvisation, and composition. Although the program is not performance driven, programs are held each year to give students the opportunity to express their growth as performers, creators, and appreciators of music.
Students in the Lower School visual arts program are instructed in art using a sequential art format. Students in grades one through three experience the visual art based on their life experiences and the world around them and students in grades four through six build on the knowledge and abilities they have acquired to focus their work on their individual interests. Students at this level are involved in a wider variety of art media such as drawing painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and crafts.
Physical education is taught daily, with emphasis on fitness, coordination, and the development of gross motor skills. The national Presidential Fitness Test is component of the physical education program.
Parents receive progress reports at the mid-point of each marking period and report cards every nine weeks. Regular parent conferences are scheduled, but parents or teachers may initiate conferences any other time that the need may arise.
The school day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. Tutoring is available every afternoon Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 3:45 p.m. at no additional charge.