Primary Grades (1st and 2nd)
In the primary grades, first and second, teachers build upon the students’ experiences in early childhood classrooms, using a variety of classroom activities to develop important reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Recognizing the diverse abilities of students within the classroom, teachers work in both whole group and small group settings. Students will continue to learn the letters and sounds that make up words.
Through reading and regular study, they will increase their sight word and reading vocabulary. They will think, talk, and write about what they read in stories, articles, and other sources of information. They will read a variety of fiction and nonfiction, including informational texts, folktales, and fables, at their individual reading levels and, with teacher support, of increasing complexity.
Students will work on developing their writing on a range of topics using a growing vocabulary and basic rules of Standard English. As they progress, they will begin to learn how to develop a topic and strengthen their skills by editing and revising.
Students in the primary grades still have a concrete understanding of many mathematical principles. Teachers work to extend these understandings through the use of manipulatives, interactive whiteboard lessons, frequent guided and individual practice, and other best practices for first and second grade students.
A major focus within these grades is their work with whole numbers and place value. Students will work on addition and subtraction skills. Students will also use visual aids like graphs to solve problems.
They will use their place value understanding to solve word problems, including those involving measurement. They will also build a foundation for understanding fractions by working with shapes and geometry. Students are encouraged to find ways to apply their mathematical understandings to the world outside of their classroom as a means of reinforcement. Teachers also support students in developing the perseverance and problem solving skills necessary for success with future math concepts.
Science instruction is a hands-on, diverse curriculum that explores aspects of Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science in the primary science lab. Students use their powers of observation, experimentation, and real-world context to explore thematic units of science.
Building upon their growing skills in the classroom, students have the opportunity to read, write and demonstrate what they know in the classroom and through displays throughout the school.
Students begin to learn how to ask relevant questions, make observations, take measurements, and draw conclusions as they develop their problem solving skills.
In the primary grades students begin to understand more about life in different areas of the United States and Tennessee’s role within America. This includes an exploration of government and civics, economics, geography, and history in places and regions of the United States.
Students also study how individuals, families and communities interact together and apply this understanding to their classroom and school interactions.
Social studies instruction also explores cultures around the world through folktales and nonfiction texts to broaden student understanding of how people around the world live and how this is impacted by geography, history, and economics.
At St. Mary’s School teachers recognize that all children develop at different rates and have differing abilities and interests.
Our approach to education looks at the whole child, not the sum of discrete academic areas.
In addition to direct academic instruction in the content areas and religion, students attend weekly classes in art, music, library, technology, physical education, and Spanish. These experiences enrich the academic program and offer cross-curricular connections to the classroom when possible.