This standard is the cornerstone of our Pre-K program. Housed in Bart’s Cottage, students are provided with academic experiences that will help them get ready to read, write, count, and problem solve by providing them with rich exposure and practice with functional living, physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and communicative skills. While also preparing students for Kindergarten, our curriculum is guided by the belief that children learn best through play in a hands-on, stimulating, and nurturing environment.
Beginning in Kindergarten, the Lower School is designed in multi-grade classrooms, allowing teachers to create student groups according to abilities, interests, learning styles, and strengths. Kindergarten, first, and second grades learn together, as do the third and fourth grades. This system-utilized at Country Day for more than 30 years has been widely accepted across the nation as a successful, stimulating approach to learning at the initial levels of formal schooling.
Teachers strategically assemble student groups according to students' abilities, interests, learning styles, and strengths. These small groupings provide students of different skill levels in each of their subjects appropriate attention, and are an intellectual foundation of multiage classrooms. During the years in which children are developing at various rates, the students in multiage classrooms benefit from individualized curriculum and varied methods of teaching.
At the same time, teachers in our multiage classrooms look beyond scaffolding knowledge and skills to actively instill dispositions of intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, empathy, and personal responsibility. Intellectual growth is not separate from social/emotional growth, and at Country Day, learning includes a deliberate focus on creating and maintaining a strong community of diverse thinkers. Students grow in their ability, inclination and engagement as they seek to master multiple subjects of interest; at the same time, they develop their sense of mindfulness, paying attention on purpose to creating, practicing, and strengthening their individual character under the active coaching and counsel of adults. Meaningful relationships and caring attitudes are so important to shaping who we are intellectually.
This does not look like a traditional classroom. Children work at tables and move around the room, learning cooperatively through individual and teacher-directed activities in an environment structured to their needs. Because academic and social needs become more distinct as children grow older, 5th Graders in the Lower School are introduced to the experience of a departmentalized schedule. Specifically, they are taught in separate classes, by subject-specific teachers, as the students prepare for Middle School.