Our Lower School includes grades 2-5. Students are offered a comprehensive academic program and receive reading instruction for two hours per day
in small group settings. The goals set are individual to the student and include
developing symbol imagery, increasing sight word recognition,
increasing speed of phonemic awareness, improving visualization,
and strengthening comprehension. Students develop the ability for further reading comprehension, oral language, following directions
and expressive language and writing skills.
- Language Arts
- Electives & Arts
- Social Thinking
- Physical Education
Students receive an intensive reading assessment to determine appropriate placement in the reading class that best fits their current needs. Multisensory programs are employed that stimulate and develop concept and symbol imagery. Highly-trained teachers work to develop targeted skills in decoding, language comprehension, fluency, and sight word development. As students move through the Lower School, progress is continually monitored and student placement adapted accordingly.
The Language Arts Program provides a dual focus of literary analysis and writing instruction. As a class, students read and analyze grade-level appropriate books and respond to the text with literature-based reading activities. By participating in pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading activities, the students bring unique experiences, perspectives, and contexts to their reading of literature.
The Lower School writing program introduces students to the key traits of
writing -- ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. Students are introduced to graphic organizers and assistive technology that enable them to acquire the skills necessary to create well developed and organized written output.
The Math program customizes instruction to the needs of each of our learners. Rather than being placed in limited grade level classes, students across grades 2-5 are grouped by ability. The Lower School foundational program is designed to teach mastery of mathematical concepts and to ensure maintenance of concepts learned. In small groups, students learn through hands-on experiences, discussions, explorations, and oral/written practice.
The Social Sciences rotates on a unit-by-unit basis between Social Studies and Science. While following the Common Core Standards, Westmark strives to inspire in students a passion for discovery, a curiosity about the past and an interest in the workings of the world around them.
Innovative online science programs provide students with interactive simulations, hands-on labs and activities, leveled reading passages with audio support, a full video media library, and a fully interactive concept glossary. These programs are further enhanced by research projects and collaborative learning experiences.
Social Studies in the Lower School classroom employs online textbooks, media resources and interactive student notebooks to explore a curriculum aligned with the Common Core standards. In 2nd and 3rd grade, students are introduced to geography and citizenship. In 4th grade, students employ both geography and economics to become familiar with the communities they belong to, both locally and globally. In 5th grade, students explore the five regions of the United States through the perspective of economics, geography, and political science. Throughout their work, research projects, and role-playing are key components of learning.
The development of the whole child is at the root of the Westmark educational philosophy. With this in mind, Lower School electives and arts offerings are designed to further develop students’ existing strengths, engage them in areas of affinity, and provide the opportunity to explore new experiences.
Each week, Lower School students engage in drama, visual art, and an elective of their choice. Elective offerings may include robotics, gardening, yoga, and cooking, among others.
Beginning in 2nd grade, students are introduced to a weekly program that explores the concepts of social thinking. The social thinking program develops students’ ability to correctly interpret the meaning behind others’ actions and to successfully develop strategies to achieve their own social goals. Through the program, students explore perspective taking, cognitive flexibility, and conflict resolution. As students enter 4th and 5th grade, increased emphasis is placed on leadership skills, conflict resolution and making positive life choices.