Elementary School Curriculum

Our elementary school has been fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 1982. Since 1986, we have worked diligently to develop an academic curriculum to prepare students fully for success as they move to middle schools after fifth grade.

Language Arts

The core of our instructional program is language arts. When we searched for a published text, we reviewed everything that was available. When we found Open Court, it was clear that not only did this program far exceed the standards and quality of any other, but also that the educational philosophy that shaped the curriculum was as close to our own as was possible! This program offers opportunities for meeting high expectations of student performance with support from teachers, parents, and fellow students.

Open Court emphasizes creative writing, clarity in both oral and written communication, discussion, and collaboration. It is a phonics-based reading program, one that uses real literature of high quality and beautifully illustrated. It is theme-based, so that students not only learn to read but also focus on important topics for six to eight weeks at a time. During that time, all their reading—as well as their writing, discussion, development of concepts, and questions—centers on a single theme.

We have been deeply grateful to the publishers of this remarkable program and have shared with them our ideas for enlivening and enhancing academic study, which they have integrated into their newer editions.

Science

We recognize the importance of science and the importance of stimulating its study with hands-on experiments. It takes a great deal of time to prepare science lessons. In each class we have a science teacher: either one of the two teachers in the room teaches science and the other math, or someone who only teaches science comes to the classroom. We try to ensure that teachers do not have to prepare for all subject areas and instead share the responsibility of the many hours it takes to prepare to teach.

Mathematics

The mathematics curriculum not only emphasizes drill and practice to learn computation skills, but also mathematical and logical thinking. There is continued use of manipulatives to aid understanding as well as mental math exercises. This approach is unique. It covers all areas that we feel are necessary to provide to students—not only the mandatory skills to carry into middle and high school but also an understanding of mathematical principles.

Art

Art is an integral part of each day in kindergarten and first grade. Because of this early exposure, we begin our more formal art program in second grade. Two gifted artists are on our staff: Mira White teaches second and third grade students. Diane Cobb teaches the fourth and fifth graders. Several of our classroom teachers are also trained and gifted artists and enhance the learning on a daily basis with art.

Library Experience

Library science and experience in the library begins in kindergarten. While half the class is in art or library, the other half is in writing workshop with their regular classroom teachers.

Physical Education

The physical education program emphasizes skill development and lifetime sports. The program is organized from a published curriculum that includes learning the rules to all standard games, new non-competitive games, and folk dance.

Standardized Tests

We administer standardized tests twice yearly beginning in the spring of first grade. We do not "teach to the test" but instead rely upon our excellent teaching materials and curriculum and our dedicated teachers to ensure that students are fully prepared. Local public schools are high performing; our test scores are equivalent to or higher than the local school districts.

Well-prepared Graduates

When students graduate from fifth grade, they continue their education in middle schools throughout the Bay Area. Most go to public schools and some to private schools. Nearly all integrate well into their new schools, are high achieving students, and are known for their poise, confidence, social maturity, and their excellent academic foundation.

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