Grades Kindergarten through Four
Park’s Lower School provides a rich academic and social foundation – cognitive, social, physical, emotional, and moral. Teachers closely observe how each child is developing and provide appropriate support to keep everyone growing. Teachers incorporate a balanced approach to literacy, incorporating guided reading instruction, phonics-based word study, a print-rich environment, and plenty of writing. Mathematics instruction follows the developmental progression from concrete to conceptual thinking that occurs in young, school-aged children.
Older Lower School students study novels through literature circles. Students are introduced to the Park Research Process in first grade. This instruction – on gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing information – continues through the senior year of Upper School. The Lower School curriculum, and particularly science, relies heavily on hands-on learning – another constant throughout education at Park.
Students enjoy the opportunity to explore the outdoors and enjoy Park’s beautiful 34-acre campus each day. They cross the campus daily to receive regular instruction from teachers who specialize in Art, Music, French, Physical Education, and Library. All lower school students enjoy daily outdoor recess. Students may begin string lessons upon entering second grade, and band instrument lessons begin in fourth grade. The Lower School ensemble plays regularly at Lower School morning meetings and school concerts. Many Lower School students participate in the School’s dramatic productions alongside their Middle and Upper School peers. Students in grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 have the opportunity to play interscholastic co-ed soccer. Students in grades 3 and 4 can also choose to be part of Park's basketball teams.
Park's Lower School students are recognized for following Park's core values of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, and Kindness in our Positive Pioneer Program.
The Lower School embraces, and participates in ongoing training in, Responsive Classroom™ methodology. This research-based approach to elementary education integrates practical strategies for helping students build academic and social-emotional learning throughout the day. Responsive Classroom focuses on ten classroom practices that create a classroom environment where students feel safe, challenged, and a have joyful place to learn.
These classroom practices include morning meeting, rule creation, interactive modeling, positive teacher language, logical consequences, guided discovery, academic choice, classroom organization, collaborative problem solving, and working with families. Responsive Classroom increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction. Emphasis is placed on student happiness, not only in making the process of their education enjoyable, but also in promoting positive, lifelong learners.