Lower School: Grades 1-4
St. Edmund’s Academy achieves educational excellence through a traditional curriculum augmented by innovative teaching. We focus on basic skills and established content. Our teaching stresses involvement and engagement - “doing,” not just listening.
Students, teachers and families form a supportive community that celebrates our students. A small school size ensures that teachers are familiar with students from year to year.
The First Grade curriculum at St. Edmund’s Academy is designed to establish the basic academic skills through an enriched, varied and challenging environment. The classrooms are active, industrious, flexible, nurturing, safe, child-centered and very busy, as well as full of their fair share of enjoyment and fun. The teachers strive for a sense of accomplishment by developing clear expectations that build a sense of respect, cooperation and community outlined by our Core Values, Core Virtues and Code of Conduct.
The activities of the day expand each child’s ability to:
• communicate through spoken and written language
• understand and manipulate number concepts
• build upon his/her natural fascination with the world
• negotiate, solve problems and work with other children and adults
• take increasing responsibility and acquire self-confidence
Language Arts and Mathematics are at the core of our First Grade program. Reading is central to the First Grade classroom; children’s literature, in all its forms and charm, provides our basic texts. Literature moves beyond the page with such occasions as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Breakfast” for students and their parents. The event combines wonderful food and the reading of the children’s own stories.
Phonics and spelling are taught sequentially; with teacher guidance, the students discover and use the rules and patterns needed to turn the spoken language into a written one.
Handwriting instruction teaches letter formation through easy-to-understand directions. Students construct letters on writing lines that serve as start and stop points. We want them to acquire the motor skills necessary to write proficiently.
Daily Journal Entries related to reading, personal experiences, and math encourage creative writing.
Vocabulary is developed through both formal and informal techniques. Using words to express ideas accurately is consistently emphasized.
Mathematics is taught with a combination of text and manipulative materials. Such an approach ensures that all topics are covered in a manner which is concrete and tangible. Counters, unifix cubes, work mats, place value ten rods and ones cubes, as well as student clocks, are some of the manipulatives used to help students incorporate the abstract concepts of mathematics.
Specialty teachers in science, computer, physical education, art, music, world cultures and library complement the enriched classroom program with field trips and cultural events. Add lunch, recess and our Thursday Chapel Service, and the days pass quickly, combining accomplishment with a sense of enthusiasm and a love of learning.
The Second Grade year strengthens and expands each child’s abilities and skills with the written word. Focused work in comprehension strategies, phonics, and spelling mesh with the literature-based reading program. Children utilize the components of the writing process and the traits of writing to develop their writing skills.
The study of mathematics centers on increasing accuracy and speed in computation skills, while developing and expanding the understanding of underlying concepts and problem-solving strategies. Manipulative materials and interactive white board instruction and activities help children learn math concepts and skills. Special math activities challenge students to think harder and deeper.
Social Studies establishes an understanding of community, our country’s landforms and resources, the history of our nation spanning from the First Americans through the Civil War, basic economic concepts and our nation’s government. Integrated throughout is the development of chart and map reading skills.
Students learn the responsibilities of homework completion, preparation for class and the importance of respecting the needs and feelings of others. Great importance is placed on behavior that exemplifies the Core Values, Core Virtues and our Code of Conduct. Study skills are emphasized, moving the students to increasing independence and self-reliance.
Higher order and critical thinking skills are developed through a variety of activities that teach children how to compare, select essential information, predict outcomes, draw conclusions and go beyond the obvious. The teachers are attentive to the developmental levels of individual students, and provide extra practice or more advanced activities as needed.
Field trips, such as visits to Meadowcroft Village and the Hall of Egypt at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, complement classroom programs and Specialty teachers instruct in science, art, music, physical education, computer, library and world cultures.
Third Grade is the year of major growth in a student’s independence. More work is expected to be completed without constant teacher direction. Reading and writing skills have developed to the level where students can and are expected to work on their own for portions of the school day. Study skills are an important component of the program and preparation for formal tests is stressed. Students also begin to use a daily assignment book that helps to develop their organizational skills. Time management is another skill that is a focus as students begin to receive long-term assignments for which they are responsible.
Reading and writing programs still have strong components of phonics and spelling, but move to focus increasingly upon inferential thinking, understanding of main ideas and the sequencing of elements of a plot. As students read more fluently, attention is shifted to the ideas and information that are presented. Cursive writing is used and expected in all areas during the second half of the year.
The curriculum is reinforced through creative projects, hands-on activities and other group work and special presentations. Literature discussions and daily activities enhance the child’s understanding and internalization of the Core Values, Core Virtues and Code of Conduct.
In Third Grade, the study of Pennsylvania is the focus in Social Studies. The children experience an in-depth exploration of their home state.
Mathematics moves beyond addition and subtraction to multiplication, division, place value, fractions, elementary geometry and developing strategies for problem-solving. Formal work is combined with manipulatives to ensure that both the mechanics and the concepts of math are integrated. Multiplication tables through 12 are mastered by year’s end.
Specialty teachers continue to instruct in science, art, music, physical education, computer, library and world cultures.
This is a high-energy year that combines expanding skills with the natural enthusiasm and curiosity of this age.
Fourth Grade is a year of continued growth and exploration of fundamental skills previously taught. Organizational and study skills continue to be an area of focus so that students are well prepared to meet the challenges of greater independence in the Upper School.
In Fourth Grade, the Core Virtues and Core Values are explored through literature discussions and group activities. The students and the Fourth Grade homeroom teachers create their own classroom rules during the first few weeks of school. These rules then become the responsibility of the class and students take ownership for their behavior as they follow the Core Values, Core Virtues and Code of Conduct.
Our reading curriculum is built upon authentic literature, which we explore through the use of literature circles, read aloud discussions and independent comprehension work.
Writing incorporates the more formal study of the English language, including the mechanics of writing, English usage, vocabulary and word study. Using the Six Traits of Writing as a guide, the class writes, illustrates and produces quality pieces of writing.
Mathematics continues to strengthen the speed and accuracy of computation skills while moving towards more challenging problem solving. Incorporating a variety of games, problem solving challenges and center work on a daily basis enhances the hands-on/minds-on approach to math making classroom learning both fun and exciting.
Social Studies is a tour of the United States by region, with emphasis on geography, culture, industry and historical background.
Specialty teachers instruct in science, art, physical education, computer/keyboarding, library, world cultures and music.