Language Arts skills are presented through reading a variety of trade books. Comprehension is taught and reinforced through the study of literature including setting, plot, theme, character development, conflict, and cause/effect as they develop higher level thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are cultivated through the reading and discussion of a variety of novels. Analytical writing in response to texts read in class is introduced, as well as practice in writing narratives, descriptive pieces, persuasive essays, poems, and comparisons. Students also engage in lessons focusing on grammar concepts: sentence structure; parts of speech - nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions; usage - nouns/verbs - irregular plural forms, subject-verb agreement; irregular verb forms; adjectives; pronouns; mechanics (capitalization, punctuation). Vocabulary is taught in context using words chosen from current novels. Spelling patterns are reinforced and applied in written composition.
In math, students continue to gain a strong foundation of skills including place value, operations with whole numbers, and operations with fractions and decimals. Students examine number patterns and expressions to begin the study of pre-algebraic concepts. Measurement and geometry are also integral units in the course.
The major themes in science are studied each year in the lower school including: classification, change over time, energy, engineering design, forces and interactions, measurement, problem solving/process/scientific methods, structure and function, systems, and collaborative discovery through hands-on explorations. In fourth grade, the course begins with the introduction to the scientific method and the processes used by scientists and includes an in-depth study of the Chesapeake Bay, a unit on astronomy, and an overview of the systems of the human body.
U.S. History is a survey course that transitions students into their first study of history as a discipline. Studies begin with a review of the basic elements of geography, mapping, and direction. Students then study Native American tribes and progress through the Age of Exploration and the early colonization of America. The course culminates with a focus on the Revolutionary War.
Spanish instruction includes the core elements of language instruction: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Vocabulary acquisition and correct grammar are practiced through target language conversation, games, songs, and projects. Units include days of the week, months of the year, numbers, colors, greetings, holidays, family, and classroom objects. Students begin the study of Spanish language syntax including the conjugation of verbs. Students also study Hispanic cultural events such as the Day of the Dead and La Navidad.