Our Lower School academic program is carefully crafted and designed to meet and exceed the national standards, preparing our students for academic success in their Upper School years and beyond. The Lower School curriculum is accelerated to a year above most national public school systems. We strive to create a supportive learning environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and self-confidence where students are able to grow and thrive as lifelong learners.
Social and Emotional Development
We value a strong sense of community in the Lower School. Our students thrive and are more likely to take risks outside of their comfort zones socially, emotionally, and academically when they feel safe, cared for, and supported. In order to cultivate this strong sense of community, we kick off each day with a Morning Meeting. Students and teachers greet one another, share information about themselves, and engage in fun activities together to set the tone for the day.
Our Cougars of Distinction program focuses on six character pillars throughout the year: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Engineering (Grades 3-5)
- World Languages
- Physical Education
At Quarry Lane, we believe that skills for reading, writing, communicating, and listening are the foundations for success in all other areas of learning. The Lower School English language arts program is designed to maximize each child’s potential to cultivate articulate communicators and thoughtful, independent readers and writers.This strong foundation creates a seamless transition into the Upper School curriculum.
We adopt a workshop model approach that incorporates reading, writing, spelling, phonics, grammar, and vocabulary. The workshop model fosters independence and ownership of work. It instills confidence in our readers and writers by equipping them with the skills to make decisions about their work. As our students progress through our program, they focus on both the skills and process of writing—learning to draft, revise, edit, and proofread their work. At each grade level, students compose narrative, informational, and opinion pieces and are expected to apply their writing skills in literature analysis, compare and contrast pieces, as well as research papers in science and social studies.
Our goal is to develop lifelong readers who are able to demonstrate a proficiency in the interpretation and analysis of a wide variety of texts, authors, and genres. Through these skills, we believe our students can better interpret the world around them, while crafting their own unique voice as communicators.
At Quarry Lane, the goal of our mathematics department is to develop confident problem solvers that have a solid understanding of mathematical concepts. We accomplish this by teaching and supporting our students to think creatively and independently as they discover and explore mathematics, while ensuring our students’ mastery of each concept.
Our faculty employs strategies in the classroom that help students develop a curiosity, motivation, and excitement for math. Our curriculum provides students with opportunities to engage in hands-on problem solving activities, using manipulative pieces related to the concept taught. Students also participate in in-depth investigations of concepts, using models and drawings, math talks and discussions, writing activities to explain mathematical thinking, and projects relevant to their interests, personalities, and levels of experience.
Beginning in Junior Kindergarten and continuing through fifth grade, students are taught mathematics skills and concepts a year above their chronological grade level. From making tens in a variety of ways in Junior Kindergarten to using the Distributive Property to solve equations in fifth grade, our students walk away with a strong foundation for Pre-Algebra and Algebra, allowing them to excel and pursue higher mathematics courses in the Upper School.
We believe students learn best by doing. The science program at Quarry Lane takes an experiential, hands-on approach, utilizing the Full Option Science System (FOSS) in grades K-5. Developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley. FOSS was created specifically to provide students an opportunity to advance their scientific knowledge and understanding through observation and hands-on experiences.
The Lower School science curriculum encompasses a variety of units in the life, physical, and earth sciences. Throughout these units, investigation, experimentation and analysis are interwoven into hands-on experiences. For example, during our Lower School’s Ocean Week, the curriculum is focused on marine biology and habitats. Throughout the week, students learn through creating three-dimensional models, conducting research reports, and performing dissections.
Field trips throughout the year, including an overnight field trip in third grade to the Pigeon Point Light House, complement our science curriculum and provide our students with firsthand experiences in their areas of study. By actively participating and engaging with scientific concepts and materials, our Lower School students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sciences.
The social studies curriculum at Quarry Lane provides our students with a historical and current perspective about their local community, state, country, and other countries and cultures throughout the world. Our program strives to connect our students to the world around them and encourages them to be active and responsible global citizens.
Studies begin with a focus on communities, families, and cultures from around the world, expanding our students' global view. In grade four, students focus their studies on the state of California, learning about the state's rich history, Native American culture, geography, government, and regions. Students in fifth grade explore the history and origins of the United States, from the native peoples of North America to the colonization of the thirteen colonies through the American Revolution.
We enrich our students' knowledge through engaging, hands-on learning experiences and field trips, including an overnight experience through the Coloma Outdoor School in fourth grade, that make studying the past come alive in the present for our students.
At Quarry Lane, we have developed a robust and challenging engineering and robotics program. Utilizing real-world, hands-on teaching models, our specialized engineering and robotics courses are weaved into our curriculum throughout our students' academic experience.
In our Lower School, engineering and technology is built into our curriculum; the goal being to create an excitement about engineering through the use of hands-on, practical lessons and application. In grades 3 through 5, engineering becomes a core curricular class added to our students' schedule.
- Personalized Project-Based Learning Curriculum: Students follow a unique curriculum that adapts to their interests and skill level as they design and build hands-on projects to solve real-world problems.
- FIRST Robotics: Students in grade 5 who are interested in designing and engaging further in robotics have the opportunity to enroll in an optional extracurricular robotics program that utilizes the FIRST Lego League platform.
Through both group and independent projects, students are challenged to use critical thinking skills to solve problems - building and learning both technical and interpersonal skills.
- Hard skills: simple circuits and principles of electricity, structural engineering, mechanical engineering and simple machines, sensors and interactive electronics, electromagnetism, motors and speakers, material sciences
- Soft skills: design thinking, collaboration, time management, communication, organization
Technology is integrated into all of the Lower School classrooms and is used at developmentally appropriate levels to enhance our students' learning. Our computer science curriculum focuses on introducing and developing digital literacy skills including typing, navigation, online research strategies, ethical online practices and internet safety, and digital collaboration, as well as programming and design.
A variety of computer and web-based applications are utilized including Scratch Jr. and Scratch, a programming application developed out of MIT for young children.
Over the course of their Lower School academic experience, students are given the tools and resources to become responsible, fluent, respectful and effective digital citizens.
We believe in the important role that art plays in the development of the mind and in training the mind to think creatively. Our comprehensive arts curriculum provides our students with the opportunity to develop their creative expression and learn how to express themselves through a variety of visual mediums, such as painting, sculpture, and collage.
Beginning in Jr. Kindergarten, students learn the basic principles and elements of design and begin building an artistic foundation through mediums. In third through fifth grades, students build upon their artistic foundation by applying real-world concepts as they explore projects in graphic design, industrial design, architectural design, and more.
The Lower School art program takes an interdisciplinary approach - weaving in concepts from science, language arts, social studies, mathematics, and engineering into projects. Global and cultural learning are incorporated into our students' art experiences through the use of mentor works of art from an array of artists and cultures. Throughout the art curriculum, students are introduced to the works of influential artists and movements, including Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, and Henri Matisse. Through this approach, students gain a deep understanding and appreciation of the historical and social contexts of art and are able to extract meaning and context into their own work.
Music is an essential part of The Quarry Lane School experience and is offered to all Lower School students. Students experience the world through music, as they learn about different music genres, cultures and artists, and how to create their own music. Students begin their exploration through listening, singing, and movement. Beginning in second grade, each student learns to play the violin and as students advance through our program, other instruments, including the ukulele and recorder, are introduced. The Lower School music program culminates in the fifth grade with students participating in the band, where they select and learn an instrument of their choice.
During the year, students have the opportunity to showcase their learning at select performances, including our annual Lower School musicals. Through these performances, students build self-confidence and learn important cooperation and communication skills.
The world languages program begins in our Lower School because we believe that learning languages in the early years builds better language proficiency and expands our students' global learning. Quarry Lane's engaging world languages curriculum includes the use of songs, games, and hands-on projects. Throughout the curriculum, students are assessed for their oral language proficiency while an emphasis is also placed on reading, writing, and grammar. Additionally, we teach students about the culture, history, and traditions of the people and countries that speak the language, expanding their global knowledge and appreciation.
The world language curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach that reinforces topics and concepts covered in other subjects. For example, students learning about flora and fauna of a region in science will learn related terminology in their world language class. We believe this approach affords a deeper and more meaningful learning experiences.
At Quarry Lane, we believe that physical fitness and activity are essential components to our students' success and overall well-being. The Lower School physical education program strategically builds students' physical skills as well as provides valuable cognitive, emotional, and social skills, such as teamwork, collaboration, and sportsmanship. Utilizing Quarry Lane's gymnasium and outdoor playing field, students are introduced to a wide variety of individual and team sports. They learn important concepts and skills to improve their personal health and wellness.