The Lower School experience at Christ Episcopal School is dedicated to providing a warm, supportive environment which emphasizes self-esteem and a strong academic foundation. The faculty is committed to the development of the whole child during this formative period.
The Lower School is comprised of kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grades. The school day is filled with a curriculum which stresses active participation in all phases of a strong academic program. Our small class sizes (average 10-15) allows individual attention and individualized instruction. If individual circumstances require additional resources, enrichment and individual assistance can be provided through our Learning Resource Center.
The school’s LIFT Program, developed in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, enhances the strong fundamental instruction. Through our LIFT model, students put learned material to use in teams, where they do research and problem solving with extensive use of technology. CES strongly believes the LIFT model significantly prepares students for their futures---in high school, college and the workplace.
Christ Episcopal School is committed to recognizing individual potential, fostering the growth of talent and creating a life-long learner in every child.
LANGUAGE ARTS: Kindergarten – Grade 4
(Literature, Reading, Writing, Spelling and Grammar)
Our balanced literacy instructional program for students in Kindergarten through Grade 4 supports children in the development of reading, listening, writing and speaking along a continuum of learning. During the foundational Grade K-2 levels, students learn how to read as they grow into students who read to learn. Through daily effective instruction in all the components of balanced literacy during Grades 3 and 4, students emerge as strong independent readers and writers.
The components of the program integrate reading, word study (which includes phonemic awareness, phonics and sight-word recognition) and vocabulary development. Skill and strategies are introduced, practiced, and then revisited at each grade level. These gradually increase in complexity along with reading more challenging books, novels, expository texts and other reading materials.
Writing instruction works in conjunction with the balanced literacy program by incorporating learning how to respond to a text in writing after reading. It includes specific instruction in the writing process, spelling, grammar, mechanics and usage. There is also explicit instruction in penmanship and cursive writing. Students learn to write for a variety of purposes and in a variety of forms.
The overall goal of the language arts curriculum is to develop strategic and independent readers who construct meaning when reading a variety of texts, for different purposes, and who can clearly articulate their learning and thoughts in writing.
MATHEMATICS: Kindergarten – Grade 4
The mathematics program for students Kindergarten through Grade 4 provides study in the mathematical content areas of:
- Numbers and operations
- Data analysis and probability
In the study of processes, students are instructed in:
- Problem solving
- Reasoning and proof
The curriculum moves through the content areas and processes at each grade level with increasing complexity. The instructional program strives for a balanced combination of procedure and understanding. Manipulative materials are used routinely to provide hands-on experiences that allow students to represent problems coherently. Class discussions provide opportunities for students to talk about their thinking and justify their conclusions. In addition, students apply the mathematics to practical situations and draw connections between their math lessons and the real world.
Through continual assessment, both informally and formally, instruction is differentiated to engage those students who demonstrate conceptual understanding with mastery of procedural understanding. Differentiation is also provided for students who may need extra time and/or additional support to gain mastery.
The mathematics program for students Kindergarten – Grade 4 provides study in the mathematical content areas of number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and data analysis and probability, and in the processes of problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, communication and representation.
SCIENCE: Kindergarten – Grade 4
Science at CES offers students an engaging and accessible standards-based program. Lessons promote curiosity and foster the development of science inquiry skills. Through a consistent and structured learning cycle, students learn about the skill set of scientists and the scientific method. The students explore units in earth science, life science and physical science. The students also learn of related careers in each field of science. Lessons are integrated with reading, writing and technology and include hands-on experiences. Some units have related field trips, and occasionally a visiting scientist will come on campus. Our students confidently build upon their experiences to develop a lifelong understanding of science concepts and to increase their awareness of future opportunities in the field of science.
SOCIAL STUDIES/GEOGRAPHY: Kindergarten – Grade 4
The CES social studies curriculum is aligned with the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) standards. Our program integrates the study of the people of the nation and world, political science, history, geography and economics with the humanities (visual arts, the performing arts and literature). Our goal is to lay a solid foundation for students to grow into effective, active citizens.
LOWER SCHOOL SPECIAL SUBJECTS: Kindergarten – Grade 4
The Physical Education program is daily for grades K-4.
The main goals for students in these Lower School grades:
- Promote interest and enjoyment in physical activity
- Foster active participation in all activities (“We sink or sail together!”)
- Identify good nutritional habits
- Develop an awareness of our own bodies in space and motion
- Promote a sense of sportsmanship, fair play and compassion (Learn to react appropriately to winning and losing)
- And most importantly, HAVE FUN!
A few of the units that are covered throughout the year include the following:
- Cooperation Activities
- Motor Skills
- Tag Games
- Small Team Play
- Soccer Skills
- Basketball Skills
- Hockey Skills
- T-ball Skills
- Field Day Fun
Visual art promotes the growth of our creativity and so much more. Through art we build confidence. Creativity is not just freedom to act on our ideas and imagination, but true creativity comes from restriction limitation. Through art we learn to see problems as opportunities. Through art we persevere through many challenges. Through art we learn focus in order to achieve our goals. Through art we learn that communication is more than just words. Through art we improve by accepting constructive feedback. Through art we collaborate with others. Through art we learn to understand that our choices affect others, and through art we experience the benefits of our dedication. Truly through art we learn what we need to succeed, therefore making art a huge blocking build in a young child’s education.
The art program here as Christ Episcopal School is designed to develop student knowledge of art materials, art history, art techniques, art vocabulary and art process. Lower school students complete different art projects based on a variety of artists or art movements, all the while focusing on the elements of art and principals of design. Each project is set up to build upon knowledge acquired in previous lessons within the grade level year, and also progress as students move from grade level to grade level. Each child is exposed to drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture and clay each year among other media. The way they are exposed to these materials and techniques will change each year depending upon their developmental stage, grade level, prior knowledge and class dynamic. Our hope is that students move forward to middle school with a greater understanding and appreciation for the arts, and feel proud and confident to express themselves artistically however they choose that to be.
Library is held once per week for grades K - 4. Part of each class period is spent reading and discussing various types of literature. The CES Librarian covers fiction, non-fiction, historical, biographical, poetry and folk tales. She and the students also read about many of the holidays celebrated throughout the year, as well as those celebrated in other countries, giving us a diverse appreciation of different cultures. The CES library has a vast inventory of books, with a collection exceeding over 10,000 books. Every child is welcomed and encouraged to check out a book each week. With so many books, the CES Library program always appeals to a wide range of interests.
The performing arts are very important at Christ Episcopal School. We strive to challenge students and foster their creativity. Students in grades K-8 have music class twice weekly. The CES music program primarily focuses on the National Music Standards: Creating, Performing, and Responding. Students learn to read music and have rigorous ear training. The Lower School Music Curriculum closely follows the Feierabend Method as well as The Orff Schulwerk Method. Students perform throughout the year in events such as our annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day performance, Christmas Concert, the Lower School Musical, and daily chapel.
String Orchestra Program
Starting in grade 2, our students have the opportunity to learn a string instrument. String students meet weekly to learn the fundamentals of playing their instrument. Much like a team sport, our string orchestra students learn to play in an ensemble and have many performance opportunities throughout the year, including a music festival at King’s Dominion in the Spring.
The grades K-4 Spanish program introduces students to the Spanish language and culture. Students develop basic communication skills as they learn and practice words and phrases that are commonly used in real life situations. Students in grades K and 1 learn Spanish through songs, stories, movement, role playing, manipulatives, and games. Some of the topics include greetings and farewells, polite words, numbers, colors, weather and calendar terms, family members, parts of the body, things in the classroom, clothing, foods, community, and animals. Students participate in many cooperative and interactive learning activities and are given creative writing opportunities beginning in grade 2. Review in ongoing and content is expanded by introducing more advanced vocabulary and grammatical structures every year.
Second graders continue to build upon the vocabulary topics from the previous years and learn about adjectives, commands, simple verbs, parts of a house, and fruits. They learn to communicate using new phrases. In addition to expanding their vocabulary, some of the topics that grade 3 students learn but are not limited to, are expressing emotions, sports, using diminutives, capitalization rules, the gender of nouns, making plurals, adjective agreement, using definite and indefinite articles, action verbs, and opposites. They study Spanish speaking countries and participate in several writing projects.
Grade 4 students continue to review and expand the vocabulary topics covered thus far. They learn to use subject pronouns and to conjugate regular ar, er, and ir verbs. They learn how to make negative sentences and turn statements into questions. They are introduced to math terms in Spanish. They have many opportunities for creative writing on a variety of topics in Spanish including further study of Spanish countries and culture.