Elementary School

Elementary School

The elementary school (grades 3-5) focuses on our community pillars of compassion and integrity. Lessons that center and extend these values are woven throughout advisory programming and integrated throughout the curriculum, always reminding us of who we are and strive to be as individuals and a school community. There is also a focus on civics, skills for teamwork and friendship, and continued celebration of our diverse Harlem community. 

Each day begins with a morning meeting focused on how students can contribute to discussions. At the end of each day, “check out” is dedicated to organizing planners, putting away materials, and preparing for the next day of school. This time is also used for reminders, celebrating small wins, and ensuring that each student gets an individualized moment with the teacher before they leave for the day.

Elementary school students spend more than two hours each day focused on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This program serves as a bridge from our primary school approach to our novel-driven study in middle school. Beyond whole-group instruction, students participate in small reading groups that meet throughout the week, read independently, visit the library, and have personalized opportunities for practice. Whole-class readings and the library collection have been carefully selected to include authors and protagonists of color.


The Math in Focus Singapore math program focuses on teaching fewer concepts with greater depth and more complex problem solving than typical programs in the United States. By beginning with concrete examples, moving to pictorial demonstrations, and then connecting to abstract concepts, students acquire skills to tackle increasingly difficult problems. In elementary school, small group work in pullout math labs helps meet individual needs for enrichment. Students also use the online personalized learning tool, IXL, to support their learning in the classroom and at home.


Our goal is to engage students in the process of scientific investigation and inquiry, preparing them to succeed in middle school science and beyond. In elementary school, we focus on the development of scientific and engineering skills, non-fiction reading and writing skills, and content knowledge. We use the inquiry-based FOSS curriculum to guide our lessons as students develop an understanding of the world. At each grade level, students study earth science, physical science, and life science. Third graders explore "Structures of Life," "Motion and Matter," and "Water and Climate." Fourth-grade units include "Soils, Rocks, and Landforms," "Energy," and "Environment." Fifth graders study "Mixtures and Solutions," "Earth and Sun," and "Living Systems."


Each elementary student has a laptop and an email account, and significant time is taken to teach basic problem solving, web navigation, typing and word processing, and digital safety and citizenship. Technology is incorporated into each subject, giving students many opportunities to practice with these tools in a safe environment. Students leave elementary school demonstrating responsible technology use and the ability to use technology for research, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

In partnership with Harlem School of the Arts, primary students take arts classes twice per week. One period each week is dedicated to visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpture), and one period each week is dedicated to performing arts (music, dance, theater). Highlights of the elementary program include a three-year study of guitar, the creation and animation of a comic book, and the performance of a musical.

The teaching team and school counselor lead weekly activities to develop habits that support living up to our pillars and Creed. The work emphasizes our pillars of compassion and integrity and how each person contributes to a joyful community of learning where all voices are heard.

Elementary students take on two significant roles in caring for our school community. Third graders are responsible for the plants around the school, including the garden on our outdoor learning terrace. This not only gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility for our campus but serves as a wonderful experiential learning opportunity in alignment with their science unit, "Structures of Life," which focuses on the diversity of plants we observe in the world. Fourth and fifth graders take responsibility for the school library, including re-shelving books, creating library displays, and keeping the space organized.


Our physical education program (held twice weekly) gives students a sound understanding of the foundational skills that apply to organized sports, so they are prepared to participate in competitive athletic environments as they grow older. We value teamwork, sportsmanship, responsibility, and the opportunity for all participants to grow from their experiences.


In mindfulness (one day per week), students learn breathing and movement techniques to help focus, manage emotions, and strengthen awareness.


Elementary students have a 40-minute recess in the schoolyard each day to play soccer, basketball, or four square; make up their own creative games; or just relax with friends.


Our meals and snacks focus on lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Our lunch period begins with a pause for silent reflection and ends with a brief, informal meeting for daily announcements. 


As an optional block at the end of each day, we provide a quiet study space for students to complete their homework. As the volume and complexity of homework begin to increase in elementary school, we encourage independence and the development of strong organization and time management skills. However, teachers are available to answer questions and help as needed.


Students can choose from a variety of enrichment activities such as chess, coding, and crafts after homework and personal learning are completed. 


During this time, some students work with a mentor (either an older student or adult volunteer) on a weekly basis on academic extension activities and additional engagement around independent reading.


View our primary school and middle school curriculums

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