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Lower School

In lower school, we guide our students as they evolve from hesitating readers to active participants in literary analysis, working with peers to unravel the layers of a complex novel. They write fables, poems, and stories, and create the school newspaper and magazine. They gain a strong foundation in scientific inquiry and mathematics and work with a national chess master each week to learn the game’s rules and strategies. Our students plan and lead a division-wide community meeting, demonstrating their understanding of our community pillars: initiative, integrity, compassion, and determination. 

The lower school is homeroom-based with two teachers working on a staggered schedule with each class from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. The two teachers hold primary responsibility for advancing students’ core academic skills, developing strong character, and nurturing family partnership. Students are welcome to engage in quiet reading from 7:30 - 8:15 a.m. before classes begin, and can also take advantage of after-school programming from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. for additional time with teachers and volunteer mentors.

Curriculum Overview

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  LS Overview First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade
Advisory + Community Meeting  

Chess Overview

All lower school students play for a minimum of 90 minutes each week, including an hour-long lesson and time set aside for independent practice. Through engaging lessons and opportunity for practice, students quickly move from learning the basics to the strategic complexities of the game. As students develop their skills, they are invited to compete at weekend tournaments, first in intramural events at Harlem Academy and then in city-wide youth competitions.

Athletics Overview

Our physical education program focuses on encouraging good sportsmanship and character-driven athletics. We value a program of mutual respect, safety, and responsibility, where all students feel welcome to try new activities and acquire new skills. We seek to give 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. Additionally, students spend 45 minutes, five times a week outdoors at recess, often practicing skills they are gaining in athletics.

Trips & Events Overview

Harlem Academy teachers envision New York City as an extension of their classrooms and weave frequent trips into the curriculum to reinforce student learning. Lower school students explore a range of rich cultural and academic resources, including:

  • Alley Pond Environmental Center
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Hurd Family Farm
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • New York Hall of Science
  • Off-Broadway Musicals
  • Queens County Farm Museum
  • Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater

How do lower school students spend their time each week?

lower school weekly scheule