Discover St. Mary's

Discover St. Mary's
A Day In The Life
The Academic Details

Lower School

The Lower School curriculum focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. We teach our students to ask "what" and "why" in a way that demonstrates that they are an essential part of the answer to "how."

The Primary Years Programme:
  • Encourages international-mindedness in students.
  • Encourages a positive attitude to learning by engaging students in inquiries and developing their awareness of the process of learning so that they become lifelong learners.
  • Reflects real life by encouraging learning beyond traditional subjects with meaningful, in-depth inquiries into real issues.
In Kindergarten through Grade 5, students explore six units of inquiry each year. These six to eight-week transdisciplinary units are investigations into important ideas and require a high level of involvement on the part of the students. In each grade level, the themes revolve around the following topics:
 
Who we are
Where we are in place and time
How we express ourselves
How the world works
How we organize ourselves
Sharing the planet

In addition to the critical thinking skills developed through these units, students also learn all the skills necessary to effectively communicate their understandings. Reading, writing, mathematics and information skills are embedded into the entire program. The school also offers exploratory classes in music, Spanish, physical education, art, technology and Christian Enrichment. By blending IB learning and traditional skills learning in the classroom, Lower School students are well prepared to transition into Middle School.

List of 6 items.

  • Kindergarten

    St. Mary’s Kindergarten students begin the journey through Lower School with a tremendous year of growth, development and learning.  Students continue to develop social skills introduced in the Early Education Program, while being challenged to understand responsibilities within an elementary classroom.

    Students learn to read simple sentences and begin to write to express themselves. Over the course of the year, Kindergartners learn mathematics through hands-on activities related to counting, numeration, measurement, geometry, patterns, sorting, data collecting, and calculator use.

    It has been proven that foreign language acquisition at an early age and continuation of foreign language study provides a better chance of developing a high level of foreign language proficiency, rather than starting instruction in the post elementary school years. Students also gain insight into another way of thinking and develop a global attitude. Study of a foreign language and culture serves as an important vehicle by which to expand intercultural views and creates an openness to global understanding.

    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment 
  • Grade 1

    St. Mary’s First Graders are confident learners, full of wonder and curiosity. As natural inquirers, they seek answers to their questions, creating meaningful connections to their personal knowledge and the classroom content.  The reading process is in full swing, which allows First Grade students to see the world in a whole new way. They are writing on a regular basis and produce brief narratives information and opinion pieces. First Grade mathematics emphasizes numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, geometry, measurement and reference frames, patterns, functions and algebra.

    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment
  • Grade 2

    Students in Second Grade begin to question where they fit into the world and how they can make a difference.  They explore their cultural heritage, as well as the lives of well-known and everyday leaders.  Their increasingly literate world allows them to understand and apply many of the skills that they learned in Kindergarten and First Grade.  Second Grade students write narrative, poems, information and opinion pieces. Mathematics in the Second Grade focuses on numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, geometry, measurement, reference frames, patterns, functions and algebra.
    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment
  • Grade 3

    Third Grade at St. Mary’s marks the second half of the Lower School experience.  Students focus on both the community in which they live, as well as communities around the world.  They continue the learning process of relying on themselves as they are striving to become independent thinkers and learners. In addition to content based and individual choice books, students will read two class novels, Kensuke’s Kingdom and Little House on the Prairie. Mathematics in the Third Grade continues to expand on number and numeration, operations and computations, data and chance, geometry, measurement, reference frames, patterns, functions and algebra.
    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment
  • Grade 4

    Fourth Grade is an exciting year where students are becoming more self-reliant and independent.  Study skills and work habits are sharpened as they prepare for the academic years ahead.  In addition to content based and individual choice books, students will read a number of class novels that include, Love that Dog, By the Great Horn Spoon and Quake. Mathematics in the Fourth Grade emphasizes algebra and the uses of variables; algorithms and procedures; coordinate systems and other reference frames; exploring data; functions, patterns and sequences; geometry and spatial sense; measures and measurement; numbers, numeration and order relations; operations, number facts and number systems; and problem solving and mathematical modeling.
     
    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Historical and state government field study to the state capitol in Sacramento, California
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment
  • Grade 5

    The Fifth Grade experience at St. Mary’s inspires our oldest Lower School students to build confidence in their ability to work independently, develop problem solving skills, and conduct their own inquiry-based learning experiences.  Students explore their world through the eyes of an international inquirer by asking and seeking answers to questions, formulating well-supported opinions and taking action.  An exciting culmination to their year includes participation in the Fifth Grade Exhibition, where students will work in cooperative groups to develop their own self-directed lines of inquiry. In addition to content based and individual choice books, students will read a number of class novels that include, George’s Secret Key to the Universe, Fighting Ground and Hoot. Mathematics in the Fifth Grade emphasizes numeration; operations and computation; data and chance; geometry; measurement; reference frames; and patterns, functions and algebra.
     
    Exploratory coursework includes:
    • Astronomy and physical sciences field study to Astro Camp in Idyllwild, California
    • Spanish
    • Physical Education
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Technology
    • Christian Enrichment