We believe that you teach to the top. We never underestimate children and their innate curiosity and desire to learn. At Kirby Hall, we create lifetime learners. During these elementary school years, children are forming their self-perceptions as scholars and achievers. Laying this foundation of seeing themselves as dedicated, passionate learners is vitally important prior to middle school.
Using literature rich in content and vocabulary, students explore both classic and contemporary works. First graders may read Aesop’s Fables, while second graders may survey D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology. Third-grade students may study the works of poets such as Langston Hughes and Ogden Nash. Our fourth graders may read Number the Stars, whose protagonist shelters her Jewish friend from the Nazis. Fifth graders may read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry which is about the African American experience in 1930’s rural Mississippi. Lower elementary studies introduce close reading, seminar-style discussions, and analytical writing, which prepares students for middle school Pre-AP strategies.
Because effective communication is essential to a successful career we crafted the writing program at Kirby Hall to be exceptional. First and second-grade curriculum emphasizes paragraph writing and introduces writing as a process. By third grade, students learn to write a thesis statement, an outline, a rough draft, and a final draft. Because our average class size is twelve students, our fourth and fifth-grade faculty have time to give in-depth feedback, individually motivating students to improve their content, structure, and grammar. Writing is also made playful through creative expression, allowing students to use their imaginations to compose descriptive and lively narratives.
Our grammar program gives is instructed fifty minutes a day in our curriculum and gives students a toolbox to grasp the interplay of words and phrases. We use an explicit phonics program based on the work of Romalda Spalding. It employs a mnemonic marking system, and when coupled with the rules of spelling and syllabication, our system helps children understand and remember how and why words are spelled and pronounced as they are. We introduce Wordly Wise to the curriculum starting in kindergarten and increase a level in the third grade.
We use the Saxon Math Program, a spiral-based curriculum, where concepts are introduced in their most elementary fashion and constantly re-enforced. In keeping with our philosophy of elevating the learning experience, we teach a year above grade level. This program stays with our students through Algebra II. As students reach upper elementary, approximately half of the curriculum comes from outside such as Khan Academy and Manga High. These programs allow students to compete with others from across the world.
Tapping into the innate curiosity of children, we approach science with hands-on learning. Children roll up their sleeves to explore, experiment, and delve into the disciplinary and core ideas of; physical science, life science, earth and space sciences, engineering, technology, and the application of science. In our maker space, students apply curriculum taught concepts to project-based learning. In the maker space environment, we encourage them to take risks, be creative, and collaborate as they develop their inquiry and process skills.
Students in early elementary spend half the year studying the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, India and China, and Mesopotamia. They also learn about the contemporary cultures of Mexico, Canada, and Japan which helps develop their sense of global citizenry. The second semester is devoted to American history, spanning from the early Mesoamerican civilizations to twentieth-century civil rights movements. Students in upper elementary immerse themselves in the study of Western Civilization and its broad influence on the present time. Our program helps students transition into their U.S. history studies with a deeper understanding of our own cultural heritage.
Kirby Hall is committed to creating bilingual students. The earlier a child learns a second language, the more readily the brain adapts. Our elementary students have Spanish instruction daily. The rigor and strength of this program would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. Students who graduate from Kirby Hall typically place in second or third-year college level Spanish.
We inspire students to see the positive side of being physically active. Students learn traditional and non-traditional sports through engaging in activities that promote cognitive development. Our program builds gross and fine motor skills, teaches safe behaviors, and fosters awareness of personal space. Structured physical activities are an excellent avenue for the development of social skills.
We focus on many different beginning elements of theater. We cultivate the child’s naturally vibrant imagination and creativity, as they learn to use the body as a tool of expression. In these classes, we focus on creating and acting out characters who have feelings similar to those of children at this age. We also use pantomime and improvisation as a way for children to familiarize themselves with the limitless opportunities they have for self-expression while in class and on stage.
We spend a great deal of time learning and singing age-appropriate songs. We begin to learn musical vocabulary so that students come to understand the concept of music as its own language. Students are taught and encouraged to harmonize with song melodies and often act out the “characters” in the songs while singing along, to create a small musical theater integration. Using bongo drums, students focus primarily on dynamics and the concept of creating and maintaining percussion instrument tempos.
Students explore the creative process in a safe and fun environment. We nurture each student’s unique sensibilities through guided independent practices and collaboration with classmates. They broaden their color wheel vocabulary and knowledge of figures from art history as they practice techniques such as drawing, collage, painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
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We would love to get to know you better and discuss the future of your child. Come visit Kirby Hall and see what makes our environment special for yourself!