Lower School

The early lower school program at Greene Hill provides young children with opportunities to engage creatively with each other, and with a variety of materials. Great emphasis is placed on learning about what it means to be part of a classroom community, and finding joy in learning and exploring together.  Teachers are active parts of the school day alongside young children, observing and encouraging their work and play.  Children often make choices about how to spend their time throughout the day, using materials like blocks, paint, puzzles, and games. They gather for shared experiences like read-alouds, songs, class lessons and activities, and co-curricular Team Teacher classes such as Spanish, Music, Visual ArtsLab, or Movement. Their days are structured and consistent, with outdoor play time daily and a rest after lunch for 4s and 5s.

While activities and lessons supporting early literacy and mathematical concepts occur regularly in the 4s, direct instruction in reading, writing, and math begins in the 5s, within the context of a day still filled with play and exploration. The emphasis on independent reading and writing grows as students move through the 6s and 7s, as this work is both integrated in larger studies and taught at dedicated times during the day.  Class-wide studies allow children to learn more about the social and natural world through community investigations, and group-based academic work supports the growth of independent skills as students get older. Work in the block area is crucial to these age groups, as children interpret structures and systems they’ve seen in their community.

In the 8s-10s classrooms, students build upon the strong foundation developed in the younger grades as they begin to consider more distant places and times, and more abstract concepts. While they are well-versed in the routines of being in school, ongoing community-building and social-emotional work expands older students’ skills with social relationships and conflict resolution, along with their shared sense of responsibility as members of a classroom and school community.  8s-10s Social Studies work brings students in contact with the diversity of human experience, gaining a wider perspective and contending with issues of social justice both historic and current.  Curricular studies increase as students visit the Science Lab for twice-weekly sessions with a science teacher, and 9s and 10s participate in Health & Wellness class.  The use of computing technology becomes a part of students’ academic studies as they are introduced to school laptops, keyboarding and document and digital presentation skills, and online literacy practices.  True homework begins, with 2-3 assignments a week beginning in the 8s and increasing in frequency through the 10s. Students continued to have daily opportunities for self-initiated work during Open Work, sometimes in connection with shared curricular studies but also in pursuit of outside interests and skills.