All of our students, beginning with our preschoolers in the early childhood center, experience a robust Arts programming integrated into the curriculum. The overall goal of our arts program is to provide an environment that nurtures a child’s innate artistic ability, stimulates creative problem solving, and fosters a life-long love and appreciation of the visual arts.
Our youngest students in Early Childhood enjoy music in both formal and informal settings, with singing, rhythm, and creative movement all integrated into their weekly and daily schedule.
Formal music classes begin in the first grade. As our students progress through the Lower School, they learn more advanced songs, learn about instruments, and musicians, and are given opportunities to perform throughout the school year. By the third grade, recorders and reading printed music are introduced.
Starting in Pre-kindergarten, students have formal art classes in our specially designed arts spaces which includes a clay room, but even as young as Preschool our students are experiencing shape, color, line, space, and other elements of art throughout their day. As the students progress through the Early Childhood and Lower School grades, art is both integrated into their units of study, such as with the fourth grade’s Africa project, as well as being its own area of focus.
Starting in first grade, lower school students are further exposed to arts education through drama classes once a week. Our drama department is founded on the goal of enriching the students’ learning and appreciation of theatre through play, improvisation, theatre games, character study, design, and performance. The curriculum builds on children’s natural desire to playact and imagine stories, and is based on strengthening the actors’ three tools – voices, bodies, and imaginations. Young actors and actresses create characters and scenes, culminating in a play by each of the lower school classes. These class plays are performed for an audience of lower school students as well as family and friends. Students also gain performance experiences during the Grandparents/Special Friends assembly, the Holiday assembly, and ArtsFest.
In keeping with our integrated curriculum, much of drama class subject material also ties into the themes that the students are exploring in the classroom, and makes use of technology that is available in the school. For example, fourth grade students perform African folktales and create African prints while studying Africa in their social studies classes. The third grade classes produce video commercials; students collaborate to write and act their script, use HD cameras to film their commercials, and use iMovie to edit their final work.