Academics
Academics

Lower School: Preschool-Gr. 2

At the lower school the focus of the program is on exploration, discovery, innovation, and play.

The experience for students in the Lower School is joyful, meaningful, and intentional.

There are several themes that run throughout the Lower School curriculum: Discovery, Design and Innovation; Mindfulness and Social/Emotional Learning; Play; and Community.

Discovery, Design, and Innovation

  • The design lab and outdoor classroom are two learning spaces that highlight the program's commitment to an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching and learning. These two learning environments engage learners through multiple modalities that are based on the topic of study.
  • The art program at the lower school is child-centered and process based. Children make meaning based on their own interests and experiences.
  • Teachers thrive at balancing joy and rigor in the curriculum by creating challenges that are at the appropriate level for each individual student.

Mindfulness and Social/Emotional Learning

  • Research says prioritizing each child’s well-being is equally as important as their academic potential.
  • Teachers are trained in the use of mindfulness based stress reduction strategies in the classroom to support long-term health, enhance cognitive function and productivity, while reducing stress and distractions.
  • Teachers explicitly teach, model and practice expectations for behavior in social and academic situations. Teachers also teach self-reflection and self-regulation strategies. This helps students control their emotions, and not be controlled by them.

Play

  • Laughter and joy are essential components to building community, establishing trust, and affirming each child's sense of belonging within the classroom.
  • Teachers are intentional at making learning opportunities playful to enhance student engagement and increase intrinsic motivation.
  • Learning through novel situations
    • Research tells us that the young, developing brain is designed to learn through exposure to and exploration of novel situations.
    • Teachers are trained to read observable phenomena during these times, and properly respond in the teachable moment to maximize each student’s learning.

Community

  • Strength in the unity and bond formed between family and school.
  • Relationships are important. Research shows that positive relationships with adults and peers can help reduce stress, and increase academic achievement, intrinsic motivation and happiness.
  • Research says a positive learning environment improves focus, decision making, memory and achievement

Our carefully chosen curricula are interweaving and intentionally spaced. They grow in complexity and reinforce previous learning. Research shows this is how students learn best and remember more. Our method of repeated, spaced exposure is supported by research. This is how the brain is designed to learn. Personalizing challenge within our curricular approach maximizes engagement, motivation, retention and growth. Teachers continuously evaluate each child’s progress, and use this information to refine the optimum balance between challenge and support. Teachers use differentiated instruction, not ability grouping. Research shows this improves learning for all students.
    • Jordan Love, Head of Lower School




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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.