Lower School Curriculum
St. Francis’s Lower School students are encouraged to reflect and grow in the classroom as they learn to advocate for themselves and others, deepen their own and others’ knowledge, and positively impact the world in which they play a part.
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math)
- Visual and Performing Arts
- Language Arts
- Guest Authors
- Summer Assignment Lists
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
Igniting curiosity and discovery includes encouraging hands-on investigation and experiences. Through our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) curriculum, our Lower School students develop the ability to think scientifically and deepen their understanding of core ideas. Using the engineering design process as a tool, they formulate inquiry; develop and use models; plan and carry out investigations; analyze and interpret data; design solutions; engage in argument from evidence; and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. Kindergarten and elementary school students use their understanding gained in the sciences to spark beginning engineering projects and, eventually, to guide them through the development of projects aimed at solving community-based problems. Interwoven throughout the year are explorations of ways that art, technology, and mathematics inform, express, and inspire work in science and engineering.
Lower School students take part in a range of visual and performing arts courses, including drama, art, and music. Visual and performing arts presentations often require additional time outside of the school day, calling for personal responsibility, faithful attendance, and completion of duties in order to contribute to group success.
St. Francis provides an enriched learning environment that integrates technology resources into the daily curriculum. Students learn basic technology skills, content, and vocabulary through an online learning platform. The program equips elementary school students with the ability to keyboard, word process, be good digital citizens, exercise online safety, and expand their media and information literacy.
St. Francis takes a balanced literacy approach to its language arts philosophy, based on research and best practices. Lower School students engage in read-alouds with accountable talk, differentiated word work, and a holistic understanding and application of grammar and mechanics. In addition, students become powerful readers and writers through the workshop approach to instruction.
Fostering a love for reading is one of the most important tasks educators undertake, and our St. Francis Crum Library and Technology Center more than meets the task. From satisfying curious minds with the latest research tools to hosting book club sessions and dynamic author visits, our library staff takes pride in helping elementary school students explore ideas and information in order to use them effectively. The library is open to students and parents from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. while school is in session. Grades 4–8 enjoy flexible library scheduling
Each year, St. Francis welcomes storytellers and guest authors who bring with them a wealth of insight into the writing process and the writer’s life. Before these sessions, students have the opportunity to become familiar with the authors’ books. They can also purchase a book autographed by the author during the visit.
To avoid a potential regression in skills over the summer (known as the “summer slide”), we offer our Lower School students fun and engaging ways to build their independent reading skills. This summer, we want to encourage students to pursue reading and math for enjoyment. The more independent and self-motivated students become, the more likely they are to develop into self-driven, lifelong learners.
Parents, you can find the summer assignments by logging into the Parent Portal and clicking on the Lower School section.
Mathematics in Lower School is an active, student-centered, inquiry-based program. Lessons incorporate increasingly complex visual models—seeing, touching, and sketching ideas—to create pictures in the mind’s eye and help learners construct, understand, and apply mathematical ideas. The program offers elementary school a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and real-life application.
An essential component of social studies instruction in the Lower School is its integration within the language arts curriculum. Students are immersed in collaborative and independent learning experiences that promote and stimulate constructivist thinking, allowing them to discover and examine areas of focus—including historical events, people, geography, cultures, social awareness, and governance.
The Lower School Spanish program provides a learning environment that encourages language acquisition and usage through hands-on activities, projects, games, and songs. The incorporation of St. Francis-relevant holidays, calendar events, and prayers help students bring the Spanish language into their daily lives.
We offer a balanced physical education program that provides a laboratory within which children explore, meet both success and momentary failure, and learn about themselves and their capabilities. The Dynamic Physical Education (DPE) program offered to St. Francis kindergarten through grade 5 students also emphasizes the values of health-related fitness. Lower School students attend physical education class four times per week and enjoy a wide variety of activities presented in a well-structured manner.