Grades 4K-5

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The Lower School at Aiken Prep is dedicated to providing a well-rounded academic program for boys and girls in four-year-old kindergarten through grade five.  The school believes in a program that teaches skills each year and builds those skills year by year. 

A low student/teacher ratio and a caring faculty combine to stimulate, challenge and excite individual learners. 

The curriculum of the Lower School concentrates on thorough mastery of the fundamental of reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.  Instruction is traditional, with many innovative, hands-on activities and programs, which enhance the learning experience.  Specialists in computer, art, music and physical education meet with students outside of the regular classroom.  Students learn their core subjects in a self-contained classroom.  At any time, or during any class, students may be working at their desks, with the teacher, presenting information to the class, or working in centers.  Students work individually, in small groups, in the science lab and in the regular classroom. 

Reading:  The combination of phonics and whole language immerse children in language.  We begin with phonics – proven to work best with beginning readers. Phonemic awareness is a focus in grades 4K - grade 1 to insure that the students develop a strong sense of the connection between letters and the sounds that letters make to create words in written language.  The phonics based Scholastic's Literacy Place, language arts program, is used for instruction of reading and language in 5K - grade 2. 

Once the base has been built, we move to a literature-based approach to reading with separate texts for vocabulary.  The formal language arts program for grades 3 - 5 focuses on the use of literature to expand knowledge of the use of English language. The formal language arts program is published by Silver Burdette Ginn, and supplemented by extra grammar instruction, review of analogies, and a strong focus on writing across the curriculum.

Written Language:  Students write regularly, formally, creatively, and spontaneously.

Initially students work with words, learn to combine them to create sentences, which evolve into paragraphs and stories as students learn to expand their use of written language.  Student writing is captured in journals, stories, and reports.  Writing to pen pals, relatives and even sending an occasional epistle to the headmaster challenges “letter writing skills”.

 Written language is held to specific standards, which are posted in each classroom throughout the school. Teachers help children develop their writing skills. Grades are given for the mechanics of writing in addition to the content or creativity of a piece.  A portfolio of written student work is compiled for each student, and travels with them from grade to grade, allowing the receiving teacher to take students from their current level of writing to a higher level of achievement, with guided practice.

 Mathematics:  Mathematics instruction begins as early as 4K with an introduction to numerical concepts and spatial relationship.  The teacher helps the student understand that the number symbol has a name, but also stands for an amount. Beyond that understanding, students are taught to count by grouping in twos, fives, and tens, and to make comparisons.  By working with concepts of more, less, above, under, before, after, around, through, between, and next, our kindergarten teachers are opening pathways in the brain for future understanding of mathematics.  Formal instruction in kindergarten mathematics is done through the use of the Math Their Way program.

 The Chicago "Everyday Math" program is used for formal instruction in grades 1-5.  This program focuses on the building of conceptual mathematics, with a dedication of teaching certain skills to mastery.  This facility with mathematics concepts develops a child's understanding of the language and use of mathematics, opening their thoughts to a strong understanding of more complex mathematics and theories at the middle school level.

 Science:  We take the study of science seriously, but know the way to excite children is by having them “DO” science, not only read a book.  Through science labs and experiments, field trips and experiences, and classes taught by older students, we introduce students to the excitement of their world.  We teach the scientific process by using students’ natural curiosity about the world around them.

 Science is presented in a developmentally appropriate way starting in 4K with an introduction to general science, changing seasons, growing of plants, weather, liquids, and solids.  Formal instruction in 5K and grade 1 is done through the use of the Foss/Delta Education Science program.  This program is a teacher guided, hands-on program that encourages exploration, the use of scientific method, the recording of data, and the experience of exploring all areas of science: earth, space, physical, and life science, while developing a scientific vocabulary and a natural foundation for exploration and questioning.

 Grades 2 - 5 study science with a continuation of hands on experience.  They travel to the University of South Carolina at Aiken Campus to participate in programs at the Ruth Patrick Science Center. 

 On our own campus, the Lower School students have a state-of-the-art science lab.  Students experience lab science on a weekly basis, and are given the chance to dissect materials, to create slides, to make observations through microscopes, to sort materials and make comparisons, and to grow plants in a controlled environment.  Students in grades 3 - 5 participate in the annual school science fair.  The students who produce the top projects are given the chance to participate in the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) Science Fair.

 Beginning in grade 4, students begin departmentalized study in science and social studies to prepare them for the transition into middle school.

 Social Studies:  Students learn about social studies by learning about their community, their school community and their classroom community.  It is important for young students to understand that they are part of a community, to respect others within the community, and that they do have an impact on their community.

 Formal social studies instruction begins in grade 3 with the study of South Carolina history.  Students study the past and present.  They visit local and state museums, develop project about topics that affect the state, and do small research projects about the state.

 In grades 4 and 5, students study American History and Geography.  They learn where places and are and why they are there.  They gain an historical perspective about our country and its development.  They visit battle grounds and re-enactments of battles, and state and local historical museums.  Upon entering the classroom, you might find students decorating buffalo hides, building a tee-pee, reading historical novels, or reporting on an historical figure dressed as the character. 

 Foreign Language:  We believe students need to practice the sounds of other languages and to articulate those sounds. Research has proven that pathways in the brain for language begin to prune themselves at or about age 10.  Because of this, foreign language instruction begins the Lower School.  We have chosen Spanish for our main language taught.

 Spanish is taught to grades 1-5.  The Spanish teacher travels from class to class, meeting twice a week with each grade.  Students are taught about Hispanic cultures, the geographical location of Spanish speaking countries, and learn the language through games, songs, formal oral and written instruction.

 Physical Education:  Physical Education is taught in 4K - grade 5.  Students have physical education class twice a week with an instructor.  Students are taught to explore their physical talents based on their personal developmental readiness.  The teacher focuses on exercising gross and fine motor skills.  Movement and exercise promotes wellness and enhances learning.

Fine Arts:   The study of fine arts in the Lower School begins in the classroom with students having a chance to hone their oral language skills by doing classroom presentations.  Each class has the chance to develop a teacher directed presentation that is performed at full school assemblies.

Music instruction enhances a child’s understanding of time and space, which promotes a better understanding of mathematics.  Movement and rhythm also enhance a students learning.  The teacher teaches music through song, movement, use of rhythm instruments, and through listening exercises.

Music instruction is taught formally starting in 4K.  The Lower School Students, in grades 3-5, have the chance to participate in the Lower School Chorus, which performs for assemblies, travels to local nursing homes, and performs for local events within the Aiken Community.

             

Art instruction begins in 4K with an art instructor.  Students are given a chance to explore various media: clay, water colors, chalk, charcoal and ink.  They are encouraged by the art instructor to expand their understanding of art and to use their artistic talents, through the completion of projects using the medium of their choice.  Instruction takes place in the "Art Cottage", which is a formal art studio on campus, where students explore painting, drawing and sculpting.

 

Character Education:  Community, character, and academic excellence are key elements within the philosophy and teachings at Aiken Preparatory School.  Lower school students are taught, by the words and deeds of faculty, the ideals of respect, responsibility, cooperation and consideration.  These are the building blocks used to establish a strong foundation of character development in both work and play.

Students participate in a buddy system within the lower school, adopting a younger student to mentor.  This mentoring takes place in the form of pen pals, reading buddies, and peer tutoring.  Caring for our school community is part of the Aiken Prep experience.

Lower school students also serve the Aiken Community by visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities, donating food to the SPCA, participating in the “Hop for Leukemia”, and fund raising for Hitchcock Hospice. 

Students are taught respect for their environment and actively support recycling, conservation, and maintenance of our local forests and waters.  They are given opportunities to visit and take soil samples in Hitchcock Woods, visit local streams and lakes taking water samples, study mineral samples from local mines, and support the preservation of all three.

Learning Strategies:  Learning specialists are available to assist teachers with specialized techniques to enhance the learning of all students within the lower school.

These specialists work closely with the director of the lower school to provide teacher guidance and development.  They may be called upon to model lessons, tutor students who may be struggling with a topic in class, or to screen students that the teacher and director might suspect to be an at risk learner.

At risk learners are identified through screening, and are referred for specialized assistance through one on one instruction with the learning strategists.  The learning strategist develops specific goals for each student under her instruction, and reports progress to the parent and teacher on a regular basis.

Students receiving one on one instruction from the learning strategist have been identified to have a learning variation that needs to be addressed to enhance their prospect for success in the contained classroom.  This service is provided by contract, and is separate from the tuition-based curriculum.

Extended Care:  The Lower School has an early morning and extended day program for students.  The After School Program (ASP), available to all Lower School students, offers homework assistance for students, along with planned programs for enrichment:  Tae Kwon Do, art, gymnastics, and horseback riding are among the programs offered.

 

Aiken Preparatory School provides a well-rounded course of study that requires critical thinking, respects diversity, and applauds individualism.

 

 

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