The Lower School at Country Day is so much more than a strong reading and math curriculum. Students are engaged everyday in art, physical education, music and world languages.
Lower School Art classes take place weekly in the art studio, and coordinate specifically with each grade level curriculum. The sequential and integrated program derives from the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework, incorporating five essential components: artistic perception; creative expression; historical and cultural context; artistic valuing; and connections, relations, and applications. Students receive positive, specific reinforcement after a hands-on experience, and follow-up discussions enable students to analyze their own individual working processes and products. This training teaches children to think about an idea from more than one point of view, and this important skill transfers to other areas of study.
Our fifth graders take music education to the next level and each student is a member of our band or orchestra. At the start of the year, each person selects an instrument and receives both small group and ensemble instruction throughout fifth grade. Students work with instructors Maria Hoyos for Orchestra and Kurt Pearsall for Band, meeting two to three times a week and participating in several performances each year as they gain confidence before an audience.
Our Lower School students receive music instruction two to three times a week. Our Pre-K-3 curriculum is led by Ashlie Kirby and focused on the Orff-Schulwerk method. This method integrates music and movement through the way that children learn best - play! Active music and dance making is the core of this philosophy, supporting both the conceptual and affective development of children.
In fourth grade, the focus shifts to choral singing with Kamilyn Davis. This also marks the beginning of instruction on musical scale and notes. Students participate in several performances each year and gain confidence before an audience.
Through the curriculum, children develop critical thinking skills through the language of music, engage in creative problem-solving through composition, performance, observation and reflection, study world culture and heritage, and the discipline and development that is a result of music and dance training helps students to mature.
Our students look forward to working with our Physical Education team several days a week depending on grade level. Activities in P.E. encourage the development of mind and muscle through training in correct body movement, directionality, awareness of oneself in space and in relation to others, safety, sportsmanship, cooperation, following multi-step directions, healthy eating and hydration, and specific game- and sports-related skills. This developmental program enables students to practice skills and develop habits that enhance their well-being and give them physical and social confidence.
Throughout Lower School, the goal of the world language program is enrichment and exposure. Our Kindergarten - second grade students learn both Spanish and French over the school year. In third grade, students select one of the languages to pursue through the fifth grade. Students in the early grades learn to count, name colors and common objects, exchange greetings, and engage in simple conversations. In the fourth and fifth grades, language classes emphasize vocabulary development and grammar.
Exposure to world languages in the early years develops students’ phonological awareness, listening comprehension, concentration, and study skills. The training our program provides is valuable preparation for the more academic language learning in Middle School.
The library program supports the reading curriculum by providing a huge variety of “just right” books for individual students to use as they practice. Students are encouraged to read broadly – and with an open mind – about people of all ages, genders, abilities, religions, and cultures. Lower School children have weekly, scheduled visits to the Winters Library, where they listen to the librarian, read a picture storybook or part of a novel, practice a library or research skill, take a “poetry break,” hear about great books and browse for new leisure reading titles. The librarian and the teachers also block out mutually convenient days and times when classes can come in to work on special research projects.