Curriculum

Reading

Encouraging the love of reading is a major goal for the elementary. In all classrooms, teachers regularly read aloud to the students. Materials for reading instruction are chosen by classroom teachers according to their preferred method of instruction. Examples of reading materials include phonics books or games. Teachers assign reading materials according to student skill level, using individual time for ongoing instruction and assessment. Teacher instruction is geared to make students of all levels feel empowered as readers while stretching their abilities and updating reading goals.

Writing

Like reading, writing is an integral part of the entire elementary school curriculum; it is taught as a subject in itself and as a tool for thinking critically in other subjects. Students are encouraged to approach writing as a process with definable stages and techniques. They learn that the process of writing has intrinsic value as a means of generating, developing, and refining their thoughts. The goal of writing instruction at Paideia is to develop not only skilled, expressive writers, but also thinkers who use their writing skills to enhance learning.  Writing experiences permeate the elementary classroom, and their frequency makes writing a natural and comfortable activity for most children.

Math

The elementary school math curriculum is the “Everyday Mathematics Program” published by the University of Chicago Mathematics Project. For math instruction, students work in groups of approximately 10 to 15 every day. The typical classroom is set up to encourage interest in and exploration of mathematical concepts and problems using a variety problem-solving strategies. Every classroom has concrete materials designed for math learning and standard games such as Monopoly or playing cards that are based on numerical concepts. Students learn to use calculators for concept development and computation, and most classrooms have math learning software for their computers.

Science

The science curriculum provides a flexible program that covers a range of topics and concepts, provides a basic understanding of scientific methods, supports the classroom teachers’ interests and enthusiasms, and connects with other studies such as math or social studies going on in the classroom.

Based on their own interests, the age of the students, and other curricular choices, the classroom teachers select for the coming school year a variety of units of study in the physical and biological sciences. An early elementary class might study life cycles, birds, trees, the human body, light, air, motion, or liquids, for example. Books, materials, and equipment pertaining to each unit would be made available in the classroom. Field trips offer opportunities to observe scientific events or phenomena first hand. Some of the middle and upper elementary classrooms plan annual field trips to overnight destinations, such as Cumberland Island or the Georgia mountains, in conjunction with their study of science. Each unit is geared to the age level of the students, so that if students learn about trees in an early elementary classroom and again in an upper elementary classroom, each study will be a very different experience.

Social Studies

Social studies units, like other curricular areas at Paideia, encompass formal and informal learning and interdisciplinary study when feasible. For example, a study of Native Americans might include elements of history, anthropology, music, cooking, geography, and art. Activity and independent inquiry characterize the social studies curriculum no matter what area of the world or period of time is studied.

Each team of teachers develops a social studies curriculum for the class that includes large and small units of study. As with the science curriculum, the school maintains a variety of resources to support teacher and school-wide interests in social studies. Regular faculty discussion of these curricula assures a balanced and varied overall approach, so that the child who goes through the elementary school will be sure to study an exciting range of countries, cultures, and peoples, using a variety of social science skills and methods.