• Berwick
Lower School Academics

Kindergarten - Grade One Flex Model
The Kindergarten-Grade One Flex Team is a union of the Kindergarten and First Grade programs. This cohesive, spiraling program diversifies the student experience both socially and academically. While the plan for the 2018-2019 school year is to have distinct Kindergarten and First Grade Classrooms, there will be ample opportunity for mixed-grade student interaction at these two grade levels.

Through varied hands-on, thematic units, students will access overarching questions at their level of ability and interest in areas ranging from social studies to reading. This model allows Berwick to build a stronger, larger learning community, yet provide more opportunities for differentiated instruction as well as collaboration and innovation within the Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms and within the Lower School as a whole.

Mixed-age grouping in predetermined settings and subject-area experiences proves to be very powerful for social and emotional learning. Younger children benefit from the positive modeling they witness from their older peers, and older peers have the opportunity to role model and take on leadership roles. The social and academic flexibility that this model provides allows children to develop their self-awareness, confidence, and risk-taking abilities.

Theme: Community

Essential Questions:
How can we best foster our sense of wonder and our natural desire to learn in kindergarten, during the Lower School years and throughout our lives?

What are the lifestyle components that all children need, no matter where they live, in order to grow and to thrive?
Skills and Enduring Understanding:
Kindergarten students take formative steps into their Berwick experience. They arrive each day excited to join a joyful and nurturing environment that supports social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. We provide cross-divisional experiences that are designed to incorporate students into the Berwick community. The intentional balance of creative and academic instruction is presented to draw students in and immerse them in our thematic units of study. Our classroom structure provides students with the opportunity to gain independence and responsibility. We actively teach and support the children in the discovery of reading, writing, math, technology, science, and social studies in one of our well-equipped classrooms and offer the exploration of nature, art, innovation projects, dramatic play, games, puzzles, problem solving, and social/emotional learning in the adjoining classroom space. The students take ownership of their learning environment by fulfilling daily jobs and responsibilities, as well as moving through the classrooms with purpose, independence, and teacher support.  

First grade students build a firm foundation in essential skills while continuing their enthusiastic approach to exploratory education developed in the previous Lower School grades. Our curriculum emphasizes reading, writing, and mathematics as being paramount components of a foundational program. Additionally, the students enthusiastically making many community connections with their first grade and  kindergarten peers in social studies and other special projects. Instruction is differentiated to provide individualized levels of support and to meet the educational needs of our young learners. Small group literacy and math support classes ensure appropriate instruction for our students. Our goal is to foster confidence in academics and to develop foundational social skills across the curriculum.

In both kindergarten and first grade, our teaching team recognizes that academic and social/emotional development varies with each child. As such, our dedicated teaching team promotes a blend of small-group and full-class experiences and cooperative projects. Students continue their exploration and growth beyond the homeroom classroom as they enjoy full use of our campus facilities for art, health/wellness, library, music, physical education, science and world language classes. Additionally, the whole-child learning experience is sustained through a strong school and home partnership where teachers and parents work closely together.

List of 11 items.

  • 8:05 – 8:20 Arrival/Indoor Free play

    As the children arrive and filter in, they begin their morning routines taking care of their belongings, signing in, completing their daily jobs, and then joining in center free time play.
  • 8:25- 8:35 Clean-up and prepare for our Morning Meeting

    Children are expected to clean up each center and prepare the areas for our next series of activities.
  • 8:40 – 9:05 Morning Meeting and Calendar Math

    We begin each day with a greeting, a message that is read as a group highlighting reading and writing opportunities, and a movement exercise. Calendar math then provides us with the opportunity to engage the children in the many facets of math and the passage of time (e.g. days of the week, months of the year, and seasons).  

    We encourage healthy snacks, table manners, and the management of their trash/recycling.  This time is an opportunity to socialize with the friends at their neighborhoods.
  • 9:10 - 9:40 Recess

    Weather permitting, this recess is held outdoors. The children are encouraged to follow safety rules and engage in inclusive play with their friends on the playground.
  • 9:50 – 10:30 Writing Exploration

    The children gather at the meeting rug for group instruction focused on writing activities. The children use their letter/sound recognition to write and build words through the use of invented spelling and the introduction of heart words (sight words).  
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Literacy Groups

    The children are divided into three small groups for instruction with one of our three literacy teachers. At this time the children are given the opportunity to enhance and build upon their developing reading skills through games, instruction, and reading practice.
  • 11:00 -11:30 Math & Theme Activities

    We introduce the children to varied math concepts using the Math In Focus (Singapore Math) Program. At this time, the children will investigate, discover, explore, and apply math in varied ways. The children are provided group instruction involving our current theme and then break off into a practice opportunity to explore the concepts through such approaches as writing, art, and observation.
  • 12:30 – 12:50 Book Buckets

    Each child has a book filled with books for independent reading time.  At this time the children build their stamina as readers learning that there are many ways to read a book, including looking at pictures, looking for known words, and retelling a known story.
  • 1:00 – 1:30 Exploration Class

    Children experience one of the Exploration (Art, Music, Library, Physical Education, Health, Makerspace/Science and World Language) curriculum offerings in the Lower School.
  • 1:30 – 2:40 S.L.A.M. (Science, Language, Art, Math)

    This independent work time is intended for children traveling through various centers that provide practice or small group instruction of varied concepts.
  • 2:45 – 3:00 Clean up and Closing Meeting

    We pack up and take care of our classroom materials and prepare for the school-day’s end. The children gather on the rug for a brief review of the day and a happy send-off to each of their friends.

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.