Grade School Academics

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We can enliven their experience of math and language and whatever academic content we’re bringing in a way that’s truly meaningful because it touches on their imagination.
— MWS Teacher

main lesson

Our grade school classrooms are lively places where teachers engage students deeply in learning by presenting concepts in multiple dimensions—through stories, drawing and painting, writing, singing, and movement. At the heart of the school day is Main Lesson, a two-hour academic intensive during which a class delves into a single core subject over a three to four week block. This approach gives students time for in-depth exploration of language arts, math, sciences and social studies. Students compose and illustrate their own Main Lesson books, which chronicle their work over the school year to reflect on, analyze and interpret what they’ve learned.

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Academic Subjects

Language Arts

Students explore the beauty of language in speech, literature, poetry, drama and composition. In the early grades, students develop a sense for language through stories, poems and verses. Reading instruction begins with writing as first grade students create their own book of the alphabet. In second grade, reading takes off naturally and with enthusiasm. In later grades, students encounter compelling books and novels, and master grammatical concepts. Fourth and fifth graders weave these skills together in compositions, research reports and oral presentations. Each grade performs a yearly class play, where students explore literature, history and the beauty of the spoken word in remarkable collaborative performances.

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Mathematics

Through engaging, hands-on lessons, daily mental math practice builds powers of concentration and an understanding of mathematical concepts. In the early grades, students explore concepts of place value and borrowing, ponder big numbers and size up the world around us through weight, distance, measurement, time and money. Fourth and fifth graders dive into the complexities of factoring, fractions, ratios, decimals and metrics as well as the study of ancient mathematical systems in conjunction with their course work in ancient civilizations.

Science

Our science curriculum builds from students’ experience of the natural world and offers them new tools for observing and understanding. In the early grades, children vividly experience the natural world around them through nature stories, seasonal festivities and lengthy outdoor adventures. In conjunction with their study of subsistence and measurement, third graders study concrete processes of gardening, composting, and baking. Fourth graders begin a more formal study of comparative zoology, while fifth graders study botany as they observe plants over time in relation to their natural environment.

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Humanities

Students experience global cultures and historical themes drawn from rich and diverse sources. First and second graders hear engaging stories of people and places in folk tales, mythology and fables. Third graders explore how human beings began living on earth and how they shelter, clothe and feed themselves across the world through farming, agriculture and building. Local geography and history are the focus of fourth grade, and geographic exploration expands further as students delve into North America in fifth grade, and begin studying ancient civilizations as their first foray into world history.