Our third through fifth-grade students, in what is commonly referred to as elementary school, want to do everything. They are builders, sculptors, computer scientists, and academics. They are hands-on, experiential learners, interacting with materials and curriculum by fully investing themselves. They are ready to collaborate and better understand sharing leadership, negotiating, and accepting the ideas and work of their peers. They want to know how the world and things in it work. They are quite inquisitive.
These elementary school children are beginning to record their observations digitally and in writing and research using primary sources. They understand that discovering the truth through discernment is a powerful tool for their learning and the foundation of their Voyagers’ education. These children play an important role in the design of their intellectual experiences.
Children at this elementary school age, with greater confidence, understand abstract ideas, not just those things which can be observed. They organize their thoughts and plan their investigations. They begin to separate facts from opinions and develop meaningful peer friendships, which aids in their social and emotional unfolding.
Voyagers’ curriculum which continues to interweave subject matter is designed so all subjects are integrated. Children in these grades rely on their reading, writing and analytic skills to apply and construct a deeper understanding across all subject areas. They continue to use symbolic languages to communicate their theories, feelings, and understandings. These children develop a sense of independence, and the confidence to solve problems and perhaps even take risks. They begin to show a capacity for self-evaluation. In this classroom, reciprocal relationships exist among people, ideas, and the natural and built world. There is a merging of content and skills across all academic and intellectual disciplines.
Qualified teachers ensure these children are offered the broadest experiences with a curriculum that focuses on learning about the past, present, and future through students’ interests.
These children understand what it takes to be a good reader. They are increasingly able to see a story unfold and predict events and moments. They often discuss books and ask questions about what they’re reading. They’ll summarize and use graphs to organize their thoughts about the books they read. As their reading skills evolve they use root words, context clues, and word endings to figure out new words. They are increasingly independent during reading and writing. Teachers introduce many literary genres and a variety of print forms, such as newspapers, magazines, websites, myths and legends, fantasy, and adventure. Students relate characters and other story elements to their own lives and empathize with the characters most like them.
During writing, these students learn organizational methods that help them prepare for more complex writing assignments. They learn to plan their work. They write reports, creative fiction, and personal narratives. They explore primary sources to gather information on a topic and organize this information, creating maps, webs, and Venn diagrams. They synthesize their findings into paragraphs, essays, projects, and presentations. They each develop a unique writing style and attain skills to help them edit their work and take more responsibility for the writing process, including revising, editing, and proofreading.
Math becomes much more challenging during these grades. Students work with larger whole numbers, and fractions and decimal numbers. They’ll look at odd and even numbers, and understand complex patterns that involve those numbers. They solve and explain addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, and problems about factors and multipliers. These students explore geometry formulas for determining perimeter and area, and measuring angles. They figure out conversion problems, considering minutes in an hour, or ounces in a pound. They read and create graphs, tables, and charts from the data they’ve collected. They solve complex problems with complex numbers and work with remainders while dividing and make connections between decimals, fractions, and percentages. They then learn to multiply and divide fractions. They also apply mathematical thinking to the real world by solving problems about time, measurement, and money. They do more math work on paper and in their heads, while still using physical materials when called for. This group of students uses math to run our school store from stocking inventory to hosting sales and maintaining proper books.
Science investigations become much more detailed in this classroom. They explore increasingly complex natural systems, such as relationships between the sun, Earth, and moon, weather concepts, and living systems like the food chain. They learn about landmasses and bodies of water, and how to identify them on a globe or map. They begin to investigate and classify different states of matter, such as solids, liquids, and gases, and observe the behavior of sound and light. They understand the solar system, weather, photosynthesis, digestion, and the Earth’s resources and how people use and affect those resources. They might experiment with simple chemical reactions. These students are frequently asked to make smart guesses before observing and experimenting to gather data and draw informed conclusions. In time, these students apply the basic math and science skills they have acquired to their observations. They become accomplished scientists.
Third through 6th-grade global studies lessons begin to expand children’s view of the world. Topics might include the natural environment and how groups of people have adapted to or modified the environment and how methods of travel and communication have changed throughout time enabling people to move to the United States, creating routes, communities, mores, laws, and consequences. They might consider different regions in our country and around the world; the people and events of early American history; and Native American and colonial experiences as compared to present-day life. They will learn about different cultures around the world.
These elementary school children waiver between independence and a sense of maturity, and a desire to remain young and cared for. The youngest children in this group are often the doers and frequently take on more than they can handle, as the oldest exude confidence while facing more internal questions and self-doubt. Who their friends are and what peers think is increasingly important. They are often excited about what they are learning as well as, for some, developing anxiety. They feel both thrilled and overwhelmed as they grow older.
Our teachers play a critical role in listening, reassuring, and supporting the new individual who emerges over these years.
In all of our classrooms, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where children make friends, build confidence, show compassion while expressing creativity.
Children thrive in social environments that create safe and healthy relationships and provide a strong sense of community. Daily planning meetings, working in small groups, organizing and lending a hand during classroom and community jobs, managing the school store, and serving as a delegate on the Student Judiciary, require these children to hone their organizational and systems thinking skills and make a sincere effort to be their very best selves.