Grade school children need to continue to develop the sense of wonder and curiosity that will make them want to learn on their own and desire ever more knowledge about the wonderful world we live in and its even more wonderful Creator.
The elementary years are a crucial time of preparation for secondary studies by laying a solid spiritual, intellectual, and emotional foundation. Students need to develop language and math skills, and they need to gain a body of core knowledge in the basic subjects. They need their hearts and imaginations shaped by stories that embody truth, goodness, and beauty.
Each grade plays an important role in the student’s development. First and second grades are the time to develop basic reading and writing skills. Third grade represents the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students also begin studying Latin in third grade. Fourth grade is a time when the students finally have the skills to begin to satisfy their hungry minds and imaginations more fully than they have been able to before. Finally, fifth grade is the year of transition to Upper School as students learn the habits of mind and character needed to engage in more challenging work during their adolescent years.
During these years, it is important to take advantage of the young mind’s ability to learn and retain information, so Lower School students spend much time on memorization. We also take advantage of their innate love of stories to help them begin to think about values and character. Finally, we ask them questions designed to lead them to a deeper understanding of the facts they are learning. This will help train their minds in habits of investigation, discovery, discernment, and analysis that will prepare them for more advanced studies.
To have learnt and remembered the art of learning makes the approach to every subject an open door.
- Dorothy Sayers