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Explore Curriculum, Beyond the Books and Episcopal Values at the Primary School at HIES

Jump to Beyond the Books in the Lower School or Episcopal Values in the Primary School.

Curriculum in the Primary School 

The Best Start

The Primary School provides a unique in-depth and comprehensive student assessment of all students three times a year by a learning resource coordinator (LRC).  The LRC then works with teachers to determine the best pedagogical approaches for individual student instruction and achievement as they lay the foundation for learning in the early years.  Based on these assessments, throughout the academic year, students are monitored for progress, challenged in appropriate ways and remediated if necessary.  These assessments provide information about the best ways in which each child learns, and teachers can then adjust accordingly for maximum success, authentically providing the best start for each child.

Language & Literacy

Language and Literacy in the Primary School begins with our PK3 students focusing on four major areas in their language and literacy lessons: listening skills, speaking, reading readiness and pre-writing. ZooPhonics is the central curriculum for language acquisition and reading readiness in PK3, PK4 and PK5. It is kinesthetic, engaging and integrates cross-curricular activities such as science exploration, reading and learning centers designed for student centered language acquisition. This curriculum fosters independence, increases ease of recall of both sound and letter names and even identifies challenges and achievement in certain areas such as speech or language processing.

At the Kindergarten level, students engage in an interactive and developmentally appropriate language arts curriculum, comprised of Explode the Code, Meet the SuperKids and Saxon Phonics. The curriculum is divided into five major content areas, which include listening and speaking, mechanics, reading comprehension, handwriting and creative writing. Students participate in activities designed to increase active listening — a structured way of listening and speaking by suspending one’s own frame of reference and judgment to fully comprehend what is being said. Students are introduced to basic spelling rules, blend, digraphs and sight words and connect and comprehend what they read in text to the world around them. They can see how words come alive to tell a story and discover joy in expressing themselves through written and spoken word. Students learn to identify the elements of stories, including characters, settings and distinguishing between fiction and non-fiction works.

Brainstormers

Brainstormers is a hands-on, collaborative lab experience, for Pre-K 3 through Kindergarten, incorporating elements of design thinking and STEAM. Through a variety of experiences, the class takes students on a deeper dive into understanding how things work and why. Students explore texture, color, size, and measurement with daily labs both in the classroom and outside. Students will become familiar with gardening in classroom window boxes and raised garden beds outdoors. Each child will discover good ways to problem-solve, how to work around disappointment in creation, how to improve prototypes and how to give positive feedback. Collaboration and teamwork are key in Brainstormers and there are regular labs to practice and master these lifelong skills.

Math

The Math curriculum in the Primary School begins with our PK3 students learning basic math skills that include numeral recognition, patterning, understanding a one-to-one correspondence, and matching like items together in sets. This feeds into our PK4, where an introduction to math facts through images, engaging games and cross-curricular learning begins.  The curriculum is built around student led learning centers, where kinesthetic and fine motor skills are honed and implemented and where students use geo-boards to explore basic geometry. Students learn to write numerals to 10 and spell their corresponding number words, increase their counting abilities by learning to count multiples of ten and are introduced to the monetary system as they learn how to use pennies, nickels, dimes quarters and dollars.

EnvisionMath, and other supplemental materials, comprise our PK5 and Kindergarten math curriculum. This experiential and sequential curriculum makes use of manipulative and hands on activities, giving students concrete examples of math concepts and developing foundational math vocabulary for more complex math concepts they will encounter in first grade. Students also receive an IXL account, an online supplemental resource for practice and retention. Starting with patterns, number identification, comparing and ordering numbers, adding and subtracting, students not only prepare for the next level of complex math, but are also able to understand and learn to apply math concepts to everyday experiences.

World Language

As a foundational component of the Episcopal academic tradition of raising global awareness, Spanish and French language instruction is offered weekly. Students are taught basic vocabulary through songs and pictures, in addition to receiving an introduction to various Spanish and French speaking cultures. Spanish language instruction is offered two times a week in PK3 and PK4 classes. PK5 and Kindergarten students begin Spanish and French language instruction three times a week.

The primary goal is to spark a love of foreign languages and cultures and to encourage students to become world travelers and global citizens. The curriculum is vocabulary based, not grammar based, and students learn through music, movement, hands-on activities and games. Language acquisition and proper pronunciation are reinforced with reading, repetition and interaction with each other and with the teacher.

Fine Arts

Visual Arts

Discover the artist within in Primary School art. Art is a daily activity in PK3, where they explore different materials, get their hands "dirty" and get creative. PK4, PK5 and Kindergarten students venture into the Art Studio to learn new styles and experiment with new materials. Kindergartners use the art studio to work on long-term integrated projects that are process-based. They are introduced to different artistic styles and mediums including ceramics, pen and paper drawing and painting.

Music

Our approach to music instruction instills a sense of steady beat, which is closely tied to reading readiness.  The weekly music instruction builds confident learners as we encourage students to be willing to try something new- singing, dancing, playing percussion instruments- in an environment where they feel secure to make mistakes AND be successful.  We broaden student experiences by exposing them to a wide variety of musical genres and encourage self-discovery in their development of a strong sense of pitch, personal expression through dance and learning to coordinate their bodies as they move through space.  The primary curriculum through which we draw is the Orff Schulwerk method. This approach combines music, drama, speech and movement into lessons that mirror a child’s world of play.

PE

PE lays the foundation for students to become physically educated and to develop confidence in their movement, spatial awareness and hand-eye and body coordination.  Both locomotor (hopping, skipping, walking and running) and non-locomotor (twisting, balancing, jumping and landing) skills are enhanced and students also learn teamwork and experience the positive support of peers.

Library

The library curriculum fosters a love of reading and books by encouraging students to feel comfortable and confident in our student-centered library, where they listen to stories read aloud by authors, as well as parent volunteers, and are invited to check out books on their own beginning in PK3.  In Kindergarten, they are introduced to the Accelerated Reading Program designed to evaluate and deepen reading comprehension in a fun and engaging way.

Life Lessons

The Primary School introduces a social emotional curriculum delivered weekly in large and small groups. A range of themes are taught to encourage children to distinguish how emotions make them think, feel and behave. Life Lessons classes are taught by the Primary School Counselor and allow active rehearsal of problem-solving strategies to create calm minds and kind responses. The lessons are developed specifically for children ages 4-6 years old to cultivate mindfulness and empathy.

The main themes of the curriculum are:

  • Calm bodies, empathy, and practicing kindness
  • Identifying emotions and how they are expressed in our bodies, thoughts and actions
  • Managing strong emotions
  • Creating calm feelings and working out problems
  • Gratitude
  • Forming positive connections
  • Caring for ourselves, each other and our community

Children participating in the curriculum not only improved on social and emotional measures such as sharing, attention and empathy, but they also performed better on traditional academic measures when compared to children in the control group.  The curriculum represents evidence-based  practices to help remove children’s barriers to learning.

Primary School Pep Rally
Primary School Art

Beyond the Books in the Primary School

Morning Meeting

A daily gathering of the students, Morning Meetings allow children to develop their social skills and to promote empathy and respect for others. Students make intentional eye contact with their peers, greet them, share with them and compliment one another. This also may be a time for students to raise any concerns they may have and then problem solve together.

Brainstormers/Design Thinking

Brainstormers is a hands-on, collaborative lab experience, for PK 3 through Kindergarten, incorporating elements of design thinking and STEAM. Through a variety of experiences, the class takes students on a deeper dive into understanding how things work and why. Students explore texture, color, size, and measurement with daily labs both in the classroom and outside. Students will become familiar with gardening in classroom window boxes and raised garden beds outdoors. Each child will discover good ways to problem-solve, how to work around disappointment in creation, how to improve prototypes and how to give positive feedback. Collaboration and teamwork are key in Brainstormers and there are regular labs to practice and master these lifelong skills.

Service Learning

A commitment to service is one of the hallmarks of an Episcopal education.  In the Primary School, students learn that one does not have to be “grown up” to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  The children utilize their voices, their hearts and their hands to make the world a better place through on-campus service projects, often in collaboration with older students from the Lower, Middle or Upper Schools. Beginning in the PK4 year, students also have the opportunity to travel off campus several times a year to participate in service to the community, including visits to local assisted living facilities; cleanup projects at local parks, and other opportunities to live the words of our HIES Mission Statement and to inspire “a sense of service to the world community.

Field Trips

Alliance Theater

Center for Puppetry Arts

Tellus Science Museum

Dunwoody Nature Center

Primary School students in Brainstormers
Cape Day Benefitting CHOA
Primary School Service Trip

 

Episcopal School Values in the Primary School

Chapel

At a Holy Innocents’ chapel service, each student is called to celebrate and share the radical loving presence of God, as we gather together in prayer. In essence, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School is a praying school! We are a school community of faith that encounters the Living God through the proclamation and sharing of His Word in all divisions. We pray for ourselves; we pray for one another; we pray for the world, and we pray especially that the good gifts we have received will empower us to be a blessing to others.

The entire Primary School gathers as a community each week to reflect on what it means to be children of God, to be good citizens, to act in service to others and to live out our individual faith traditions.  Chapel services affirm both our Christian traditions and religious diversity. The Primary School chaplain leads chapel services, often with the help of the students themselves and parents are welcomed to attend.

Service Learning

Community Service is more than a graduation requirement at HIES. At HIES we believe you are never too young to make a difference in your community and the world. A commitment to service is one of the hallmarks of an Episcopal education.  In the Primary School, students learn that one does not have to be “grown up” to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  The children utilize their voices, their hearts and their hands to make the world a better place through on-campus service projects, often in collaboration with older students from the Lower, Middle or Upper Schools.  Beginning in the PK4 year, students also have the opportunity to travel off campus several times a year to participate in service to the community, including visits to local assisted living facilities; cleanup projects at local parks, and other opportunities to live the words of our HIES Mission Statement and to inspire “a sense of service to the world community.

Life Lessons

The Primary School introduces a social emotional curriculum delivered weekly in large and small groups. A range of themes are taught to encourage children to distinguish how emotions make them think, feel and behave. Life Lessons classes are taught by the Primary School Counselor and allow active rehearsal of problem-solving strategies to create calm minds and kind responses. The lessons are developed specifically for children ages 4-6 years old to cultivate mindfulness and empathy.

The main themes of the curriculum are:

  • Calm bodies, empathy, and practicing kindness
  • Identifying emotions and how they are expressed in our bodies, thoughts and actions
  • Managing strong emotions
  • Creating calm feelings and working out problems
  • Gratitude
  • Forming positive connections
  • Caring for ourselves, each other and our community

Children participating in the curriculum not only improved on social and emotional measures such as sharing, attention and empathy, but they also performed better on traditional academic measures when compared to children in the control group.  The curriculum represents evidence-based  practices to help remove children’s barriers to learning.