Students on Early Childhood Playground
Lower Division

GOOD TEACHING SHOULD BE A LIVELY CONVERSATION—ONE IN WHICH YOU SHOW, BY THE WAY YOU TEACH, YOUR HIGH REGARD FOR YOUR STUDENTS AS FELLOW LEARNERS.  GRADE 4 TEACHER

You observe your child’s natural love of learning every day. Park not only preserves that enthusiasm, but nurtures and builds upon it. Our experienced teachers guide and support students on their Lower Division journey, helping them master not only the fundamentals of language arts, math, social studies, and science, but also self-awareness, confidence, and citizenship. As students progress, they take on age-appropriate levels of challenge and responsibility, all the while feeding their curiosity and enjoying their educational adventure.

Hallmarks of Park’s Lower Division

  • Social-emotional learning. We educate the whole child at Park. That includes developing listening skills, empathy, kindness, and compassion.
  • Students get the challenge they need. Every student is well known here. Our teachers make sure each child is given the appropriate challenge according to their unique learning style, skills, and needs.
  • Children find their voice. Beginning at a young age, students get many opportunities to share their ideas, their talents, and their love of learning.
  • Parents are our partners. Parents are a crucial part of their children’s progression. So we maintain frequent communication between you and your child’s teacher with weekly newsletters, daily informal check-ins, and comprehensive conferences in the fall and spring.
  • Project-based learning. To make learning engaging, holistic, and relevant, teachers create hands-on projects that bring lessons to life.

Prekindergarten

This play-based program lays a strong foundation for future learning, particularly in literacy, social studies, math, and science. Classes are small: 14 students with a master teacher and an associate. Teachers guide each child’s growing cognitive and social skills, while paying close attention to the development of self-esteem, acceptance of others, and love of learning.

Children explore and discuss a variety of books, celebrate and discuss similarities and differences among themselves and their families, and focus on many mathematical concepts: numbers and number sense; classifying, sorting, and patterning; geometry and spatial sense; and analysis of data collections. They study science and art in the natural world, all while engaging in play inside and out, especially on the Discovery Playground right outside their classrooms. The PreK schedule includes library lessons and visits to the Outdoor Learning Garden.

Over the course of their PreK year, children work on coding projects, participate in a Chinese New Year Parade, create a recycled city, perform in a play, and generally prove to themselves that learning is fun.

Kindergarten

In this enriching environment, each child can find success and enjoy learning in literacy, social studies, math, and science. Students are encouraged to grow within a framework that is stimulating and supportive.

The curriculum offers variety throughout the year, using themes of self-awareness, families, community contributors, and artists as activists. Teachers integrate these themes into all the work areas of the classroom: art, dramatic play, math, oral and written language, and science, where the children study the life cycle using butterflies and chicks. Play is essential to the emotional, social, and intellectual life of the Kindergarten child, both in the classroom and on the playground. Outdoor time on the Discovery Playground allows children to run freely and engage in cooperative, intentional, play-based activities. Library lessons, a twice-weekly science class, and visits to the Outdoor Learning Garden are all highlights of Kindergarten at Park.

Grade 1

First graders take part in daily lessons in language arts, math, and social studies. They participate in large-scale construction projects, field trips, and a year-end theater production, in addition to ongoing acts of community service to organizations like the Brookline Food Pantry. Students learn about the USA—its map, its landmarks, and what makes it “united.”

First grade is when students begin eating lunch in the dining room. Their daily and weekly schedules provide a balance between child-initiated and teacher-directed projects, whole group meetings and activities, one-on-one talks with teachers, independent work time, and small group time for both reading and math. Students also get opportunities to teach their peers, which can be an excellent learning opportunity for all involved.

Grade 2

In Grade 2, students work toward mastering basic reading and math skills and gaining a greater awareness of their role in the School and other communities. Teachers help them build confidence in themselves as individuals and learners, and they grow able to pursue more challenging learning activities involving critical and abstract thinking.

As part of the social studies curriculum, second graders participate in a yearlong study of the daily lives of children in five countries: Mexico, India, Colombia, China, and South Africa. By exploring the questions “Are all second graders around the world just like me?” and “Is it weird to be different?,” second graders compare and contrast food, clothing, games, and shelters. As a final project, the whole class creates a global market where they can experience some of the similarities and differences across cultures. The children decide which goods and services will be for sale, and at what price. They get the real-world experience of collaborative decision-making, pricing, counting, adding, and subtracting, as well as reasoning, prioritizing, and persuading.

Second graders explore a variety of writing genres through class read-alouds, after which they try to model their own writing, creating a portfolio over the year. They read biographies and take part in a biography show; publish iSpy books of picture riddles they’ve created; and enjoy an ongoing partnership with senior citizens at the Sophia Snow Place.

Grade 3

This year marks a significant transition in children’s academic and social lives at school. The fundamental skills acquired in earlier grades are now applied to more difficult and complex tasks. Students express a sense of growing competence and confidence in their skills as readers and thinkers. Their natural curiosity leads them to investigative research and problem-solving, and as the year progresses, they delight in working more independently. Homework becomes a regular routine as they are asked to complete reading and written assignments nightly from Monday through Friday.

Grade 3 includes a look at stereotypes and a yearlong study of the Native Peoples of North America. A fall field trip to the Wampanoag Village at Plimoth Plantation introduces students to the indiginenous Massachusetts culture. As they learn about other tribes across the country and the discrimination facing many Native Americans, third graders create projects in the classroom and the art studio. In June, families are invited to celebrate the year at the students’ cumulative Native American Museum housed in their classrooms, featuring dioramas of a Wampanoag village, 3D pueblos of the Southwest, wooden paddles and totem poles representative of Native Americans from the Northwest Coast, and classroom murals of landforms in the Midwest.

Grade 4

In fourth grade, the concepts of citizenship, respect for others, and the environment underlie every component of the academic program.

Students extend their understanding of history, geography, and civics by learning about ancient Greece, with emphasis on fifth-century Athens. Major projects include researching and role-playing Greek gods and goddesses, studying Greek vases and archaeology, and reenacting the Olympic games. A field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts provides opportunities to explore the richness of Greek art and culture. Students continue developing their skills of questioning, making connections and inferences, synthesizing, comparing and contrasting, and developing a historical perspective through the study of ancient Greece. Fourth graders extend their research skills by doing more sophisticated outlining and note-taking, as well as writing an informational book about a chosen topic. The year culminates in an interactive “living museum” where students teach visitors about their research topic through the perspective of a person from ancient Greece.

In Grade 4, sustainability is a priority. Students create PSAs on the topic and work in teams to run the paper recycling program for the entire School. They enjoy a bit of fun with the responsibility, as they dress in superhero costumes to collect the recycling bins and issue tickets when classrooms don’t follow the rules and contaminate the bins.