Lower School Curriculum
Our teachers work to instill a feeling of self-worth and self-confidence in each student knowing that each child brings a variety of gifts to a classroom.
– Roanne Ornelles
Roanne has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii and a master’s degree in education from Boston University. Before coming to Canterbury in 2014 as a learning resource teacher, she had worked as lower and middle school director at Summit School in Winston-Salem.
In classrooms across campus, Canterbury's lower school curriculum comes alive in the hands of experienced teachers who use both innovative and traditional methods to foster creative and critical thinking, as well as a life-long joy of learning. Canterbury's curriculum is designed to develop the whole child academically, physically, spiritually, and socially.
Lower school art classes empower students to be art-makers by developing specific skills in drawing and a variety of other media. Students learn the elements and principles of design and are exposed to the work of artists throughout history. Each student develops a portfolio that is shared with parents in a student-led conference at the end of the year.
Students in grades PreK-4 learn Spanish through concrete, everyday experiences that develop listening comprehension, as well as speaking, reading, and writing skills. Classes are conducted primarily in Spanish. The study of Spanish-speaking culture and its similarities to American culture is an essential component of the program.
The lower school uses Math in Focus: Singapore Math, a program developed in Singapore in the 1980s that is based on behavioral science and focused on problem solving rather than rote learning. Teachers present concepts in detail in three steps: concrete, pictorial, and abstract. Students begin learning a concept using concrete, hand-on materials, like blocks or balls. Next, students draw or look at pictorial representations of a concept such a bar graph or place value chart. Problem solving allows students to apply math knowledge to abstract concepts, making them more flexible math learners.
Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade develop their musical abilities through singing, playing instruments, creating, moving, guided listening, and other experiential involvement. They learn about melody, rhythm, harmony, texture, tempo, dynamics, timbre, and form. In 3rd and 4th grades, playing instruments, singing, composing, improvising, and listening are supported by discussion and reflection to enhance musical understanding.
PE and Health
Canterbury's lower school physical education and health programs are designed to help students acquire a life-long commitment to health and fitness. Classes focus on developing specific motor skills, decision-making skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, physical fitness, and knowledge of the determinants of health. Good sportsmanship and fair play are priorities.
Reading and Language Arts
Canterbury uses the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop approach to teaching reading and writing. Workshop – a balanced literacy approach using both whole language and phonics methods – has extensive research behind it, led by the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College at Columbia University. Canterbury also uses Recipe for Reading, a developmentally appropriate, research-based program, that gives students a foundation in phonics, decoding, and comprehension strategies. Students spend time in class reading books of their choice that are interesting and just challenging enough, and writing about topics they choose. Our goal is to help students develop a life-long love of reading and writing.
Students are actively involved in asking questions about the world around them and designing meaningful and engaging experiments and investigations. Lessons focus on life and physical science in grades K-3 and motion and environmental studies in 4th grade. Each grade has fun with engineering and robotics.
The social studies curriculum prepares students to become responsible citizens. Students develop knowledge and skills in history, geography, economics, government, and culture. Content moves from the familiarity of self, family, school, and home in the early grades, to the community, state, and country in later grades. Students expand their global awareness by studying other cultures throughout their lower school years.
Spiritual development classes support the students’ faith development begun with their families and in their faith communities. Students learn the basic stories of scripture and are encouraged to engage in discussions and in written and artistic activities that will help them understand God's presence in history and their own lives.
Technology is fully integrated into the learning experience and used in activities that require students to think, analyze, and create. Beginning in PreK, students use iPads in learning stations for reading, math, and problem solving. 1st through 3rd graders have 1:1 access to iPads, and 4th graders graduate to using Chromebook laptops at school. Teachers employ interactive SMART boards throughout the day. Keyboarding is taught beginning in second grade.