At The Pike School we believe every child has tremendous potential. Our overall philosophy and approach to working with four to eight year olds regards all of our students as individuals with their own learning abilities and challenges that are not fixed but able to be built upon and developed with care and intention.
Our teachers know their students extremely well, help celebrate their successes, and understand how they learn best. We are committed to helping each child grow socially and emotionally; much of our work integrates teaching these skills directly and supporting children in applying them throughout the day.
Your student's academic journey is also crucial. Pike's Professional Learning Team approach allows us to continuously consider and provide flexible learning environments to challenge, support, and meet each child's needs. Through regular collaboration we determine how best to work with your children, guiding them to take risks, challenge themselves, gain enduring understanding of curricular topics and learn deeply about themselves and the world around them.
Our goals for students are to appreciate and enjoy literature and to be lifelong readers and writers. Throughout their school day, students read, write and speak for a purpose. Formal literacy instruction occurs in smaller instructional groups where students are challenged appropriately. All students work on phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension with materials suited to their skill level. Students are exposed to the writing process in literacy groups and writing workshop. In the Lower School writing workshop, students learn they have stories worth telling and information worth sharing. They select topics themselves, leading to greater independence and write for increased periods of time, leading to increased stamina. They participate in mini-lessons where the teacher offers explicit instruction on a writing strategy or technique to try. Students collaborate with peers for feedback and assistance. Writing mechanics, including spelling and basic punctuation, are addressed at a level that is appropriate for each child. The process of writing and sharing their work allows children at all levels to improve their skills.
Throughout the year, our social studies focus is on communities. Each day begins with a morning meeting that fosters mutual respect with the goal of developing a safe learning environment for all. Students are exposed to various communities and cultures throughout the year with the goal of appreciating the similarities and differences among classmates and other people. In the spring, students learn about Japan and celebrate Japanese Children’s Day by sharing their knowledge with the parent community. In addition, we use the Responsive Classroom approach and Open Circle curriculum, a social competency program developed by The Stone Center at Wellesley College.
Emphasis is placed on building number relationships, mathematical vocabulary, problem-solving strategies and flexible thinking. We strive to build excitement and confidence about mathematical topics. Fact families and number stories demonstrate the relationship between addition and subtraction. As students add and subtract larger numbers to 100, they begin to understand the place value system. They use place value blocks and other manipulatives to demonstrate how numbers can be regrouped. With each new concept, students communicate their ideas with objects before moving to symbolic representations. Calendar math provides leadership opportunities and a way to apply math skills. Skip counting, patterns, money, time, data, and plane and solid shapes round out topics in First Grade.
First Graders learn about science through an integrated, hands-on approach. Through the study of owls, plants and seeds, and they develop an appreciation for the natural environment. Students explore, observe and describe characteristics and properties of what they see. They are encouraged to be curious and ask relevant questions. They have the opportunity to connect with our campus through hikes and observations on the Pike trail throughout the seasons. First Graders will also participate in two "Project Lead the Way" (STEM) units: Form and Function and Animated Storytelling.
The Lower School curriculum in physical education is designed to develop movement, balance, and spatial awareness—the skills required for moving through space. Games tend to be collaborative rather than competitive in these early years, and they concentrate on creative movement and the joy of physical activity. Children work with a variety of small apparatus, including balls, beanbags, ropes and hoops. Lower School students learn the importance of developing a healthy, active lifestyle. This is emphasized as students explore various activities in school that help them develop strong bodies and healthy hearts.
In Lower School art, students are introduced to the fundamental skills, ideas and processes of art making with an emphasis on creative choices and personal expression. Each project is an opportunity to build cognitive and tactile skills with an increase in complexity at each grade level. First Grade students will make art from direct observation, such as self-portraits or still life drawings, and explore family and cultural identity. All students work collaboratively, respond to famous artworks and works of their peers, and examine the connections among art, academic subjects, and everyday life. All students participate in the spring school-wide art exhibition.
The music program in Lower School focuses on helping children in Pre-K through Grade 2 develop core musical skills through singing, instrument play, movement, improvisation, and composition. Influenced by Kodaly, Orff, and Music Learning Theory, students learn music similar to the way they acquire a new language; music is primarily taught by ear, with students experiencing and creating music in a number of ways before they learn to read and write notation. As part of their overall curriculum, Lower School musicians will learn a variety of songs from different cultures and learn about the larger expressive qualities of music.
Lower School music students participate in two concerts per year.
In First Grade, students learn how to play simple accompaniments on Orff Xylophones and are introduced to hand drumming. They learn how to distinguish between duple/triple meter, major/ minor tonality, and learn to identify the form of a song. They are also introduced to melodic and rhythmic notation on the treble staff. First Graders build their own practice taiko drums during the last term and learn about taiko drumming to complement their study of Japan.