The Lower School

Nurturing hearts, minds, & spirits

The Lower School program at Heathwood Hall, comprising kindergarten through fourth grade, lays a strong academic foundation for the rest of a student’s career in school. We also recognize the importance of developing confident and joyful learners who are well-prepared for the academic journey still ahead of them.

At Heathwood Hall, our primary focus is on getting to know each individual child as both a learner and as a person. That philosophy is essential to helping all students become the best versions of themselves, which is why we have two teachers in each classroom throughout the Lower School supporting the core academic instruction. In seeking to uphold and guide students toward excellence, our dedicated and experienced faculty connect with every single child and help them master the foundational skills necessary to move forward. The presence of the second adult allows the teachers to work intentionally with small groups of students throughout the day, as well as offer extra support when needed, or provide opportunities for stretching learning beyond the lesson, providing a differentiated and challenging learning environment for every student.

Throughout the day, the Lower School students are busy collaborating, creating, and problem-solving in ways that help develop those essential 21st-century skills. We believe in the importance of educating the whole child - emphasizing academic rigor while also nurturing their social, emotional, physical, and spiritual development. In addition to the core academics, our students also meet regularly with specialty teachers for engaging lessons in art, music, science, library, Spanish, PE, guidance, and chapel. Through all these classes, the students are gaining the skills necessary to be confident, curious, independent, and self-aware young people, who will be good stewards of the broader world around them.

Heathwood’s Episcopal tradition emphasizes the God-given value of every student, and we strive to model respect, love, and service for every person. Through that lens, every child in the Lower School is taught as a person with inherent worth, possessing individual talents that deserve to be developed within a thriving community of learners. Daily devotions and chapel are the most explicit manifestation of that tradition, but throughout the day, there are intentional and organic opportunities for recognizing, celebrating, and supporting one another as unique and valuable members of the Heathwood community. That is central to Heathwood’s identity as an Episcopal school.

This nurturing environment, rich with academic fundamentals, attention to educating the whole child, and recognition of each child’s individual needs, provides the ideal setting where Lower School students’ individual futures begin to grow. Heathwood Hall welcomes you and your child to this community.

Curriculum Overview

In the Lower School our curricular focus is focused on reaching and responding to each individual child in a manner that cultivates future academic success while also allowing for personal growth in an environment of compassion. Our program emphasizes academic rigor and the mastery of fundamental skills while also nurturing a love of learning and the development of individual talents and interests by allowing each student the space to explore their own passions and pursuits.

In addition to a traditional curriculum that builds a strong foundation for higher-level work in core disciplines like math, science, English, and social studies, students in each Lower School grade undertake sustained exhibitions of mastery that develop skills that are particular vital in today’s knowledge economy, such as critical thinking, creativity, and public speaking.

In accordance with our Episcopal tradition’s emphasis on the God-given value of every student, Lower School teachers and administration look to help children mature naturally and carefully in accordance with what is best for their emotional and social well-being in addition to their academic readiness. We seek to uphold and guide every student toward excellence, with the recognition that every student’s journey is unique.

Related Arts

In addition to core academic coursework, Lower School students at Heathwood partake in a robust related arts curriculum that includes fine arts, foreign language, physical education, and religious instruction.

Both visual arts and music are taught by faculty members who are experts in those fields and who work exclusively with our younger students. All Lower School students take Spanish, and have P.E. each week. Our Godly Play religion curriculum helps students learn the stories of the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament in a hands-on way that is perfect for young faith explorers, while respecting the faith traditions of all peoples.

In the Lower School music classroom, we cultivate an environment in which children are empowered to express their individual creativity through exploring the diverse world of music. Children grow in their knowledge and understanding of the foundations of music in a child-centered classroom through singing, dancing, composing, analyzing, improvisation, music history, movement, dance, musical styles and cultures and frequent performances.

Technology

Integrating technology into the Lower School classroom is a delicate balance that Heathwood thoughtfully seeks to achieve. We value the importance of students’ hands-on work, learning-by-doing, and active play. We also know that technology is an integral part of all of our lives and holds tremendous possibilities for student learning. Keeping these two notions at the forefront of how we approach instruction helps us achieve a balance that serves our students well and in age-appropriate ways.

In our Lower School we have developed robust classrooms for interactive and engaging learning through the use of technology. Our students in grades 1 – 4 participate in a 1:1 iPad program, teachers have access to interactive instructional tools and web services, and the classrooms have shared devices that promote hands-on learning with the personalization that technology can offer. Our experience with the 1;1 program is an example of how we thoughtfully integrate technology tools. We began the Lower School 1:1 iPad program three years ago in our 3rd and 4th grade classrooms when our faculty had identified the value the program would offer to their students. Meanwhile we provided class sets of shared iPads for students in Grades K-2 so teachers and students could take advantage of them when appropriate. As we have developed our program and reflected on the effective and age-appropriate practices, we now see extending the 1:1 iPad to the 1st and 2nd grades as an opportunity knowing that our students and teachers are ready to effectively use them in meaningful ways on a regular basis. Therefore, we will be extending that program to the 1st and 2nd grade for the 2021-2022 school year.

LEAP Week

LEAP Week (Learning, Engagement, Action, Possibilities) in the Lower School is a week when the regular curriculum is suspended for part of the day to give students the opportunity to explore other interests and discover new passions. Each year, for the last week of the 3rd quarter, students can select from a menu of 15-20 short courses, from which they select two.

Recent LEAP Week courses have included Herb Gardening, Colonial and Native American Activities, Tennis, Ballet, Exploring Latin America and Spain, Animal Lovers Book Club, Popular Mechanics – Building Bridges, and Creative Writing.

Extended Programs

Through Extended Programs, which encompasses both extended care and Summer Programs, Heathwood provides attentive care and enriching opportunities for students outside of regular school hours.

Heathwood’s Extended Programs for Lower School students offers both early morning (7:30 – 8:00 a.m.) and after school (3:00 – 6:00 p.m.) care. In our after-school program teachers provide snacks, engage students in meaningful games and activities that complement the curricular goals of the school day, and give students time to play outdoors and enjoy nature.

Extended Programs also offers after-school enrichment programs for Lower School students, that provide a variety of exciting options in athletics, arts, and academics, in 10-13-week sessions every spring and fall. These activities are available both to students who are enrolled in afternoon care and to those who are not.

Families can enroll in afternoon care for the full academic year, or use it as needed on a drop-in basis. Year-round care is also available through Heathwood Summer Programs.

TOTAL STUDENTS

817

LOWER SCHOOL STUDENTS

197

Student : Teacher Ratio

7:1