Teachers in the Lower School work with students to become increasingly self-directed as they mature throughout the program. Responsibility for learning is transferred to children at an early age. Students are given expanding amounts of work and time to manage independently, and genuine choices throughout their day regarding topics of study, materials, workspace, work partners, or individual inquiry. Children also learn to assess their own progress and set personal learning goals. Continual individual reflection in writing or in conversation with teachers and peers is stressed to help students think deeply about what and how they learn.
In the Lower School, children develop a lifelong commitment to learning. They are encouraged to make choices and to take increasing degrees of responsibility for their own learning. Teachers plan group projects and assign individualized work based on a close, personal knowledge of each child’s unique strengths and needs. Teachers also plan flexibly so that the developing interests and initiative of the children may be embraced and encouraged.
Much of the Lower School’s work is summarized by three important rules, which serve as a succinct code of behavior for all students in Early Childhood through Grade 5: take care of yourself, take care of others, and take care of the environment. Lower School teachers strive to help children build comfort and confidence by encouraging an appropriate level of self-regulation. Teachers work closely with children to foster interpersonal skills and appreciation for the social setting. Respect and stewardship are concepts the Lower School seeks to develop from the self outward.