The purpose of the music program is to lay the foundation for lifelong music appreciation, to instill a love of singing and music making, and to train children in a developmentally appropriate learning sequence of basic music skills that will lead to musical literacy. Since children learn best through a variety of learning modes, lesson plans make use of aural, kinesthetic, and visual learning experiences. Music in the elementary program consists of six related components: singing, music theory and ear training, recorder, composition, performance (choral/instrumental) and music history.
Students in the lower elementary classroom are first introduced to the treble clef and learn to play simple note combinations on their recorders. Throughout their years in lower elementary, students will progress at their own pace in mastering a wide variety of musical compositions on the recorder. They will also learn to be professional performers as they prepare for, and present, a spring recital each year.
In addition to instrumental music, students sing in rounds, and learn vocal jazz and scatting. In music history, students learn about all the instruments of the orchestra, and undertake an in-depth study of three major composers (one each year).
Our foreign language program emphasizes a conversational approach, supported by cultural exploration. Emphasis is placed on listening skills to expose students to a variety of vocabulary and contextualized language. Over time, students expand their vocabulary and are exposed to the written word. The third-level students take a field trip to L’Adour, a local French restaurant.
The fitness program includes opportunities for both individual physical fitness and group play to encourage the development of abilities to work as a part of a larger team. The students have exposure to traditional fitness skill in basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, and track & field, as well as instruction in dance, rock climbing, movement, gymnastics, yoga, and cooperative games. All these combine to allow the child to develop strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance.
Our goal is to create in each child an interest in the development of lifetime skills, along with working towards one’s personal best. Students also enjoy a half-hour recess period each day where they often choose to further develop their physical fitness and sports skills.
Lower elementary art provides an environment that aids the child in the development of skills in order that the child may creatively express him or herself through various media. In addition to art expression for its own sake, art is an integrating factor for the rest of the curriculum. Students pursue a variety of projects throughout the year including printmaking, drawing, sewing, sculpture, weaving, and design projects. A wide variety of artistic traditions and famous artists are also studied.
Respect and compassion for others is translated into opportunities for community service, both at the classroom and school levels, in the larger community as well. In the school and in the classroom students continuously – and often spontaneously- reach out to lend a hand. Whether they are helping someone with academic work, sweeping the floor, watering plants in the greenhouse, or emptying the recyclables or compost, they are taking responsibility for the environment and the people in it. Children studying Africa, or the rain forest, for example, have elected to raise money to buy livestock for a village or for the preservation of rainforest land.
Increasingly in our society, children are deprived of the opportunity to develop a connection with the natural world. Limited to structured athletic experiences, they don’t have the opportunity for free play and exploration of the natural environment. Research shows that time in nature is directly correlated with calmer and more centered students. In addition, students who understand nature and feel comfortable in it will be better able to respect the Earth and all its life.
In addition to working in the campus greenhouse and gardens, hiking on the Nature Trail, recycling and composting, students travel to the school’s 150-acre Land Laboratory. Here, they become more knowledgeable about, and comfortable in, the natural environment by participating in activities such as shelter building, compass use, animal track interpretation, wetland biology, maple sugaring, and beekeeping. They are also given time to sit quietly, reflect, and write in journals during their experience at the Land Lab.
As they reach the end of their third-grade year, students embark on a three-day trip to the Adirondack Mountains. This is an important rite of passage and team-building experience as the students prepare to move up to the Upper Elementary classroom. Students meet during the school year to plan, learn about the region, and develop a menu. Teachers and parents accompany the students as they climb several peaks in the Adirondacks and spend a morning rock climbing. This trip is a milestone for students – a celebration of all they have accomplished in their years in the Lower Elementary classroom.