In our Lower School, students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade accomplish increasingly complex tasks and deepen their conceptual understanding in all areas of our curriculum. Our comprehensive curriculum includes English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, Music, Modern Languages, and Physical and Health Education. Equally important is the social and emotional development of our students, which is an integral part of teaching and learning at NYA.
The way in which we teach and children learn is as important as what we teach and how children learn. Our pedagogy emphasizes inquiry- and project-based teaching and learning. We organize our curriculum into interdisciplinary units of study that integrate multiple subject areas, thereby enriching the learning experience for our students. Through project work, children actively investigate their interests, discover new ideas and develop their own theories. In keeping with our mission and values, teachers encourage and support each child’s unique style of learning, interests and talents.
English Language Arts
Our students learn to speak confidently and listen to what others have to say. They learn to read and write independently with enthusiasm, and use language to explore their own experiences.
Students learn to speak clearly, thinking about the needs of their listeners. They work in small groups and join in discussions to make relevant points. They also learn how to listen carefully to what other people are saying, so that they can remember the main points. They learn to use language in imaginative ways and express their ideas and feelings when working in role-plays and drama activities.
We develop students’ interest and pleasure in reading, by helping them to read confidently and independently. They focus on words and sentences and how they fit into whole texts. They work out the meaning of straightforward texts and say why they like them or do not like them. We teach them to read with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment.
To develop students’ understanding of literature, including fiction, poetry and drama, students learn to identify and describe characters, events and settings in fiction. They use their knowledge of sequence and story language to retell stories and predict events.
We help our students enjoy writing and appreciate its value. They learn to communicate meaning in narrative and non-fiction texts. The emphasis at this stage is on learning to express thoughts and ideas in written form. Students learn that the purposes for writing include communicating with others, creating imaginary worlds, exploring experiences and explaining information. We encourage our students to use adventurous and varied vocabulary. We help them to sequence events and write about them in an appropriate detail with a clear and organized structure.
Students learn spelling and spelling strategies. We also teach punctuation skills and explain how punctuation helps the reader understand better.
Students develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematics through practical activity, exploration and discussion. They learn to count, read, write and order numbers. Our students develop a range of mental calculation skills and use these confidently in different settings. They learn about shape and space through practical activity that builds on their understanding of their immediate environment. Beginning to grasp mathematical language, they use it to talk about their methods and explain their reasoning when solving problems.
Problem solving is an important part of the maths curriculum. Students learn how to approach problems, and use operations and problem-solving strategies to solve the problems. We also teach our students to explain their methods and reasoning.
Of course, understanding numbers and the number system is critical. Students learn to read, write and count up to 1,000 and beyond, according to their ability. We teach students to create and describe number patterns, and recognize that the position of a digit influences the number’s value.
Our students learn basic number operations and the relationships between them. They represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division, and understand properties of multiplication and the relationship between multiplication and division. Students learn to multiply and divide within 100. They solve problems involving the four operations, and identify and explain patterns in arithmetic.
Students use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic. They fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. Students develop understanding of fractions as numbers.
Students observe, explore and ask questions about living things, materials and phenomena. They begin to work together to collect evidence to help them answer questions and to link this to simple scientific ideas. Our students evaluate evidence and consider whether tests or comparisons are fair. They use reference materials to find out more about scientific ideas. They share their ideas and communicate them using scientific language, drawings, charts and tables.
We teach our students scientific inquiry. They learn to collect evidence, investigate and ask questions. Students learn to organize their results and present them in variety of ways such as orally, in writing and through drawings.
Students learn about people’s lives and lifestyles. They find out about significant men, women, children and events from the recent and more distant past, including those from both India and the United States, and the wider world. They listen and respond to stories and use sources of information to help them ask and answer questions. They learn how the past is different from the present.
Students investigate their local area and a contrasting area, finding out about the environment in both areas and the people who live there. They also begin to learn about the wider world. They carry out geographical inquiry inside and outside the classroom. In doing this they ask geographical questions about people, places and environments, and use geographical skills and resources such as maps and photographs.
Students explore technology and learn to use it confidently to achieve specific outcomes. They use technology to develop their ideas and record their creative work. Students learn to gather information from a variety of sources, enter and store the information in different forms and retrieve it. They learn to use text, tables, images and sound to develop their ideas. Students use technology to explore, discover and share. Each child has an iPad and uses it to learn across subject areas.
Visual and Performing Arts
Students develop their creativity and imagination by exploring the visual, tactile and sensory qualities of materials and processes. They learn about the role of art, craft and design in their environment. Students begin to understand color, shape, space, pattern and texture and use them to represent their ideas and feelings.
Students are encouraged to express themselves through dramatic play. They dramatize situations and actions to go along with the roles they chose to play. We also organize theatrical performances in which students are assigned roles and learn to play their parts.
Students learn to use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes. They explore playing on different instruments. We teach our students to experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music. We aim to engage and inspire students to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians.
Modern Languages – French and Spanish
Students develop an appreciation for modern languages and learn basic sounds and words. They learn how to listen carefully in order to discriminate sounds, identify meaning and develop auditory awareness. Students learn correct pronunciation and intonation. They learn how to introduce themselves and others, and ask and answer basic questions.
Physical and Health Education
Students build on their natural enthusiasm for movement, using it to explore and learn about their world. They work and play with other pupils in pairs and small groups. By watching, listening and experimenting, they develop their skills in movement and coordination, and enjoy expressing and testing themselves in a variety of situations. Students develop competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns. They learn and apply knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance. Students learn responsible social behavior that respects self and others. We also teach our students about healthy eating and living.