Lower School Academics

Our homeroom curriculum balances foundational curriculum in reading, writing, math, and social studies instruction with innovative experiences including the project approach, small-group literacy classes, and full-class explorations classes. Educational units often culminate in a meaningful assignment, presentation, performance or related special event. Full class and small group instruction in reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills make up a robust language arts program, while an in-depth math program and diverse social studies units round out the homeroom core curriculum.

Reading skills are strategically developed through small group instruction, (literacy groups based on ability levels), from kindergarten through fourth grade. These guided reading groups typically meet for half hour blocks three times per week and are the basis for individualized skills instruction relevant to student needs, including phonemic awareness skills, reading fluency, and comprehension strategies. Writer’s workshop and other language arts programs, including spelling and handwriting instruction, round out the Lower School program in this crucial content area.

Math classes
are taught using a hands-on approach to math explorations and number sense. Through the Math In Focus program (a version of Singapore Math), students acquire a multitude of math skills, work independently and collaboratively, and share their discoveries through standard and student-created equations, problem-solving strategies, and peer discussions.

Social Studies
units range from studying our local communities to learning about the continents. These units often connect and integrate with classroom literature, library class research activities, and final projects. Within this meaningful approach to learning about local and distant cultures, past and present, greater meaning is acquired through essential questions ranging from, "What kind of community do we want to 'live' in at Berwick Academy?" to "What are some similarities and differences between local and worldwide communities?"

Nature-Based Education

Our faculty believe that connecting students to the natural world through authentic outdoor learning experiences promotes positive social growth and nurtures good local and global citizenship. Art, science, writing, and physical education classes regularly venture outside for investigating and learning. Examples include nature journaling during writing class; snowshoeing through our expansive snow-covered forest during physical education class; and studying campus trees and trails during our science and art classes.

The Project Approach

Our project approach to teaching and learning, which includes studying meaningful and authentic topics, encourages collaboration and deep thinking. Because we know that student choice fosters engagement and joy in learning, projects are based on student and teacher interest and involve an in-depth investigation that ignites our students’ passions. Students take ownership of their experience through the project approach. Being an active participant creates greater independence and confidence, and sets the foundation for students to understand themselves as learners. This is important for a student’s journey in lifelong learning. 

Projects consist of three phases:
1) Articulating what students know about a topic
2) Gaining new information through experts, field visits, and research
3) Developing final activities that highlight the students’ findings

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy, situated on an 80-acre campus just over one hour north of Boston, serves 600 students, Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Deeply committed to its mission of promoting virtue and useful knowledge, Berwick Academy empowers students to be creative and bold. Berwick strives to graduate alumni who shape their own learning, take risks, ask thoughtful questions, and come to understand and celebrate their authentic selves.  Founded in 1791 and rooted in a tradition of college preparation, our culture of innovation prepares students for a complex and dynamic world.