The Lower School

Nurturing hearts, minds, & spirits

The Lower School at Heathwood Hall, ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, focuses on reaching and responding to each individual child in a manner that cultivates future academic success, but one that also allows for personal growth in an environment of compassion. With the Responsive Classroom program, LEAP Week, and a commitment to including exhibitions of mastery at every grade level, the Lower School emphasizes academic rigor while allowing each student the space to explore and develop their own passions and pursuits. Rather than rigidly prescribing a uniform program of development, the 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. In seeking to uphold and guide students toward excellence, Lower School faculty connect with every single child and prepare them for whatever path they discover and choose.

Heathwood’s Episcopal tradition emphasizes the God-given value of every student, and the Lower School strives to model respect, love, and service for every person in all each aspect of the curriculum. Daily devotions and chapel are the most explicit manifestation of that tradition, but the personal engagement and academic exploration so vital to the Lower School are done in the light of every student as a whole child created in the image of God. Through that lens, the foundational teaching and the emphasis on students finding and pursuing their passions is central to Heathwood’s identity as an Episcopal school.

The early grades are vital to laying an academic foundation for the rest of a student’s career in school, and the Lower School at Heathwood offers world-class instruction and preparation. Students are more than academic performers, however, and every child in the Lower School is loved and taught as a person with inherent worth and individual talents that deserve to be developed and nurtured in a thriving community of learners. This nurturing environment, rich with academic fundamentals and individual attention, provides the context where, along with parents, Lower School students’ individual interests and strengths are encouraged and those individual futures begin to grow. Heathwood Hall welcomes you and your child to that 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.

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

762

LOWER SCHOOL STUDENTS

197

Student : Teacher Ratio

7:1