Our Lower School focuses on the individual child, the “whole child”, developing critical thinking and providing a solid academic base and study skills that will be beneficial for a lifetime. Our small class size allows teachers to engage and teach each child in a nurturing environment. The range of activities from art, computer, science, Spanish, music, and physical education, is a daily rotation for our students to keep them active and learning in a fun and productive environment.
Our Pre-Kindergarten program is designed to encourage young learners to explore the world around them through a variety of rich, meaningful, and engaging learning experiences. Since young children learn through play, our program is designed to provide students with high-level playful learning opportunities. Students will be presented with a balance of teacher-led and child initiated activities each day. We aim to meet the individual needs of each child through a diverse and flexible curriculum. This allows our program to be tailored to fit each child as they grow and develop throughout the school year. We work to instill a love of learning in each child by providing students with a warm and nurturing learning environment. Our goal is to see each child leave Pre-Kindergarten a happy, confident, and enthusiastic learner.
Kindergarten - Grade 5
Lower School classrooms are self-contained and provide structure – guiding and supporting students at the same time allowing them freedom to nurture independent thinking and action. Students learn basic facts and concepts and are encouraged and empowered to think and express themselves in traditional and imaginative ways. Strong academics are brought to live with varied, engaging experiences.
The Lower School offers students a traditional, and in many cases, accelerated program in reading, mathematics, science, social science, English, spelling, foreign language, and handwriting. These subjects reflect the academic atmosphere of the school and provide the foundation for the demanding scholastic programs of the Middle and Upper Schools. Courses in art, music, computer technology, library science, foreign language enrichment, and physical education round out the Lower School program.
A strong focus on writing and public speaking starts early. Lower School students practice how to catch a reader’s attention, how to develop a point, how to create the language of poetry and how to keep a writer’s notebook. By writing and practicing public speaking, our students build necessary skills of clear communication that are honed throughout the years at WPS. Homework is required at all levels, as is the reading of selected books over the summer months.
Reading - The reading program of the Worcester Preparatory School combines phonics and linguistics in an approach which gives students an early start in reading. The kindergarten program stresses the sounds of letters of the alphabet and words which incorporate the individual sounds studied. By the end of the kindergarten year, students are able to decode simple words and sentences.
Continuous practice in phonics/linguistics, reading comprehension, and vocabulary is evident throughout Grades 1 and 2. In Grade 1 students have two reading sessions and are given more difficult reading as they advance in grade level. Because most of the phonics skills are taught by the end of Grade 2, at the intermediate level more emphasis is placed on comprehension and vocabulary and less on word attack skills.
Throughout the Worcester Preparatory School reading program in Grades 2 to 5, teachers are careful to clarify the differences in techniques between silent and oral reading. Work in these two areas of reading helps students develop skills necessary for expressive oral and effective silent reading.
Materials used in the reading program include basic textbooks, selected novels, supplementary readers, and a variety of audio-visuals. Literature covered includes various types of traditional and contemporary selections such as fables, fantasies, biographies, and classic-type stories. The materials and the literature combine to create a total program designed to enable students to learn to read with understanding and to take an interest in and have an appreciation of reading.
Math - The mathematics program at Worcester Preparatory School places a special emphasis on the fundamentals of math. Using concrete examples, problem solving, memorization, and practice, primary grade students are expected to gain a solid foundation for the intermediate grades and upper school.
Students in the second grade are expected to display immediate recall of the basic addition and subtraction facts. At this level they begin to study the multiplication facts and practice the skills of "carrying" and "borrowing".
Emphasis in the intermediate grades is placed on measurement, geometry, fractions, decimals, the properties of mathematics, and the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Special work in problem solving and mathematical reasoning is covered at all grade levels.
English - Lower School students are involved in a traditional sequential English program. As students progress through the grades, they become adept in writing good sentences (simple to complex), paragraphs of varying lengths, reports requiring research, and various types of letters. Poetry, sentence structure and parts of speech are all studied in detail. Proper handwriting and neatness are emphasized at all levels. Students begin cursive writing in grade 2. Spelling is coordinated with the reading series as phonetic skills are stressed along with major spelling rules.
Science - In a combined experimental/textual approach, students are given an opportunity to undertake concrete experiences in search of answers to scientific problems. As a result of these experiences, students learn to observe, interpret, and classify. Topics in life science, physical science, and earth science are covered in Lower School. These topics include weather, solar system, health, rocketry, astronomy, measurement, chemistry, electricity, oceans, and environmental science.
Technology - Students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5 are scheduled for computer lab sessions, and in addition, use computers in their classrooms. Classroom teachers work with the computer lab teacher to integrate computer use into regular studies.
Primary students use a variety of educational and reference software, study word processing, do digital art projects, create booklets, do simple computer presentations and data bases, etc. Students in Grades 3 - 5 study keyboarding, multimedia programming, integrated computer programs (word processing, data base, spreadsheet, draw, paint), and use a number of educational software and reference resources. Upper elementary classes often make extensive use of lab facilities for their studies. Some Worcester Preparatory School projects have received state and national recognition for excellence of computer use in education.
Telecommunications (email, realtime conferencing, file transfer, Internet, etc.) is available for all classes. Equipment for Pre-K - 5 includes computers, digital cameras, digital video cameras, scanners, printers, iPads, etc.
Foreign Language Enrichment - Lower School classes, Grades Kindergarten through Five, receive instruction in Spanish. This instruction emphasizes oral communication and appreciation of the language and cultural heritage.
Art - Students study line, color, texture, and shape through a variety of art activities. They use their knowledge, imagination, and curiosity as they develop and practice skills in the different media. They learn about art history and work on projects in the styles of various artists.
Music - All students in Grades Pre-Kindergarten through Five attend regularly scheduled music classes. Concepts such as melody, harmony, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, tempo, form and music notation are gradually developed throughout the years with repetition accompanied by increasing difficulty. Concepts are taught through singing, performing, instruments, and movement.
Instruction on the recorder begins in Grade Two and continues through Grade Five. Students are instructed in practice methods, and memorization is required on a regular basis. By Grade Four, students learn to accompany small and large singing groups.
The Third Grade is introduced to the orchestra and learn the names, function, and location of the various instruments.
The music history curriculum is introduced at the beginning of the Fourth Grade and continues through the Fifth Grade year. Students are taught the major composers and compositions of each musical period. They are also given an overview of society through invention timelines, class discussion of everyday life and customs of the times as well as the explanations of musical terms throughout these periods. Through coordination with the art curriculum, students begin to understand relationships between music and other disciplines.
All students in the Lower School are given the opportunity to participate in two major concerts a year. These performances help students develop confidence in front of peers and parents, and audiences in general.
Physical Education - Emphasis in the primary grades is placed on the development of muscular coordination. Students engage in non-competitive type games, and directed exercises. Intermediate level students are introduced to the techniques of soccer, field hockey, kickball, lacrosse, basketball, softball, and sports such as volleyball. Instructors stress sportsmanship and team spirit in addition to athletic skills.
Library Science - All students in Grades Pre-K through Five visit the Guerrieri Library with their classes every week. Library classes promote an appreciation of literature in order to form a lifelong enjoyment of reading and learning. Students learn to locate and use an assortment of types of library materials.
The Guerrieri library sponsors a summer reading challenge and a variety of other reading activities throughout the school year.