We encourage students to be intellectually inquisitive, to think creatively and critically, and to respect a diversity of opinions and ideas. In this nurturing environment, we support our girls’ efforts to take intellectual risks and to consider mistakes as opportunities for learning. Learning in Lower School promotes the social, emotional, and aesthetic growth of the whole child. Girls learn to model the values of honesty, awareness, responsibility, respect, and kindness; to appreciate a healthy mind and body; and to savor the joys of learning.
- Learning Strategies
- Guidance and Advisory
- Community Engagement
- Homework Zone & Extended Day
- Outdoor Education
The Lower School course of study is designed to assist girls in developing the skills, flexibility, and confidence necessary to meet the challenges they face in their near and distant future. Holton implements a variety of learning strategies and organizes the curriculum in a sequential and structured manner to enable our students to become successful learners, individually as well as cooperatively.
The course of study includes:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Design Technology
- World Languages
- Fine Arts
- Physical Education
Students learn to be active and thoughtful readers and effective and eloquent writers. Our language arts program is designed to foster a love of reading and writing and to give students the tools they need to be both knowledgeable consumers of written information and successful communicators of ideas.
An awareness of the diversities and similarities among cultures is fostered as the social studies program integrates a global perspective across all grade levels. Hands-on activities, special days, projects, field trips, and use of technology enhance understanding of and appreciation for the area of study.
Science is a way of knowing, a process for gaining knowledge and understanding of the natural world. The students are active learners; they “do” science. Our program inculcates scientific temper, fosters reasoning and application behind the observed natural phenomena, and ignites the sparks of curiosity and creativity in our youngest students.
Design Technology provides students with hands-on experiences in problem solving along with the acquisition of basic engineering skills. In Design Technology, students explore and create with subject matter and materials which empower them to shape their environment, develop their own evaluation skills, and integrate concepts and skills from diverse curriculum areas.
The world languages program introduces the language along with the cultural aspects of its native-speaking countries. Overall listening and speaking skills are further strengthened through the presentation of vocabulary and grammar concepts, and the introduction of reading and writing activities. Spanish/French is offered in grades 3 and 4. Chinese, French or Spanish are available in grades 5 and 6.
In Holton’s art studios, students acquire skills and aesthetic understanding while learning to think creatively. The Fine Arts program offers a sequential, spiraling curriculum that teaches art as a visual language and combines technical training with the development of imagination and personal expression.
Students in grades 3-5 take general music and also play in the band or orchestra. Students are encouraged to commit to one instrument to build technical skills and fluency. Playing in band or orchestra builds confidence and develops an appreciation and understanding of orchestral and wind ensemble literature. In fifth and sixth grades students also participate in the Lower School Chorus.
Every girl can develop her full physical and motor potential through regular participation in a vigorous, sequential program of movement exploration, fundamental sports skills, creative dance, swimming, cooperative play and intramural competition. Physical fitness and a positive self-image are our goals for every student.
Learning strategies are integrated into all aspects of the curriculum in grades 3-6. Students focus on developing appropriate strategies for listening, following directions, reading for meaning, note-taking, test-taking, studying, organizing, scheduling, and time management.
At the fifth-grade level, students participate in a class based on research in understanding how one learns called "The Mind that’s Mine." The overall objectives are for each student to understand how she learns, to identify her strengths and needs, and to develop strategies to support her learning style.
The Responsive Classroom
Holton practices a classroom management model called Responsive Classroom. In essence, Responsive Classroom emphasizes the academic and social benefits of establishing a classroom culture of collaboration, support, and respect. In this model, teachers provide their students with practical skills for working together. More than anything else, Responsive Classroom gives each child an equal voice in the classroom, and for children (and adults, probably), being heard is often the key to being understood and supported.
The academic, personal, and social skills our students develop in Lower School are the foundation for her continued health and happiness. The guidance program concentrates on the social and emotional well-being of our students and coordinates with the Middle and Upper School guidance programs to provide the girls with a continuous support system.
Counseling is available to any individual or group through parent, teacher, and/or self-referral. The full-time Lower School Counselor coordinates support with the classroom teachers. In addition to informal meetings, the guidance counselor meets with each grade level to focus on developmentally appropriate social and emotional skills.
In Lower School Guidance, students will:
- Develop a strong foundation of character, including resilience, respect, perseverance, self-awareness and self-confidence
- Cultivate a solid growth mindset with a focus on critical, complex, “out-of the box” thinking, and real-world problem solving
- Acquire the necessary skills to make constructive, creative and healthy decision-making
- Increase effective conflict-resolution skills reinforced by improved self-awareness and healthy risk taking
- Enhance peer and social awareness through mastery of cooperative, collaborative and relation-building skills
- Acquire a global perspective including cultural awareness and sensitivity
- Promote digital citizenship and online safety
- Learn self-regulation and ownership, taking responsibility for actions
- Apply problem-solving skills: solve the problem with only the person involved; get a trusted adult at school and at home if the issue is unresolved
- Utilize multi-modal learning, analytical problem solving and clarity in articulation.
- Develop strategies for making and keeping friends
- Learn listening and communication skills through the Peer Mediation program
- Develop a healthy repertoire of stress management techniques
- Cultivate a strong foundation in empathy, a key attribute in a successful learner.
Grade 6 Advisory Program
The purpose and goals of the Lower School 6th grade Advisory program is to encourage, foster and build upon the essential 21st Century skills in a small group setting. Similar to the Middle School Advisory program, the advisor encourages academic, personal and social character development while guiding students as they continue to develop their individual decision-making, risk-taking assessment and conflict resolution skills throughout the year.
Advisory groups meet twice a rotation. The classes include a variety of lessons and activities. Individual and group goal setting are frequently discussed throughout the year as the girls grow and mature in their ability to work together to meet mutually agreed upon expectations and stretch their aspirations of what they want to accomplish as individuals and within their advisory group.
Opportunities to develop leadership skills are explored as the girls answer questions like: “What does good leadership look like?” and then have the opportunity to lead a group, like during out Summer Reading Book Celebration day.
Community engagement is a very important component of the Lower School experience. No matter what the age of the students, we feel it's important for them to know that they have gifts and talents that can be shared with those less fortunate than themselves.
Children view their world in a series of concentric circles. At the first level, they intimately understand the “world” of family and friends. The next level is their class at school, and that expands to include the Lower School, then the entire School. The levels beyond that are their neighborhoods, their city, state, country, and of course, the world.
Lower School Community Engagement involves these different circles. Projects in the Lower School include: visiting and singing at a nursing home; bake sales to raise money for local causes; a walk for the homeless; JumpRope for Heart to raise money for the American Heart Association; delivering handmade sandwiches, soups, scarves, and hats to a local shelter; and collecting holiday gifts for area residents who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
We are proud of the positive impact the Lower School girls have on our own community and the community at large. The girls develop a true love of caring for others and a sense of satisfaction at how their efforts are received.
Lower School Homework Zone
Lower School Homework Zone is designed for all Holton Lower School students. Homework Zone offers girls the opportunity to work on homework in a structured environment before they leave school. This after-school study hall runs 3:30-4:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Please note that no snack is provided. Parents are welcome to pack a snack for their student to eat during this time.
There is no charge for this service. Students not picked up by 4:30 p.m. will report to Extended Day, which is billed on an hourly basis.
Lower School Extended Day
This program is designed for all Holton-Arms Lower School students remaining on campus after the school day has ended. Extended Day runs 4:30-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 3:30-6 p.m. Fridays. Snacks, cooking, outdoor recreation, and crafts are all part of this after-school program. There is no pre-registration. This drop-in only service will be billed to your Holton-Arms account by the Business Office at an hourly rate of $8.
Every fall in the Lower School, our fifth and sixth graders travel to Camp Calleva for a day of challenge, connection, and fun. This day also offers our fifth-grade students a special opportunity to collaborate with their peers from Landon. In the spring, sixth grade travels to Northbay for a three-day immersive experience where they learn about the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay while also having an opportunity to navigate a challenging high ropes-course, ride a triple-seater giant swing, and zoom down a zipline.Of her Outdoor Education experiences, one Lower School student shared, “I made a lot of new friendships and connected with people I hadn’t been friends with in a while.”
Grade 4 Curriculum
- The purpose of this curriculum is to develop global competencies, such as cross-cultural communication, empathy, perspective-taking, and collaborating globally.
- In grade 4, the students participate in Level Up Village, which allows them to collaborate with partners across the globe. For example, working 1:1 with students in Ghana to discuss global access to electricity and design sustainable flashlights using Tinkercad. The partners upload and share plans with each other, offering suggestions via video messages. Then, partners in both places print out their designs on 3D printers.
- Students become “experts” on UN Sustainable Development Goals and research the current status of these goals in the regions we study through our geography program.
- The students collaborate to research the diversity of cultures within regions and within countries. They learn to evaluate digital sources, to paraphrase what they have read, and to cite sources in their final presentations.
- Through infused cross-curricular work, students explore the fine arts in each region, participating in dance, drama, visual arts and music throughout the year.