Curriculum in High-Quality Primary Classrooms
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The subject areas your child will study include language arts and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, technology, and the creative arts.
Language Arts and Literacy
Language arts and literacy include understanding language (knowing words and the rules of spoken and written English) and communicating through reading, writing, listening, and talking. Your child will also use these skills to learn other subjects.
Reading. Your child will gain many reading skills as he progresses through the primary grades. This includes understanding more about the relationships between sounds and letters, developing strategies to figure out unknown words, and reading more smoothly.
To help children learn these skills, teachers
- Provide different types of reading materials in both print and digital formats
- Teach specific reading skills in large groups and small groups and provide plenty of time to practice these skills
- Read aloud different types of books
- Help children choose books that interest them
- Give children time to read every day
Writing. Teachers give children many opportunities to write for different purposes and different audiences. They'll learn to include more descriptive language and use correct punctuation and capitalization.
To help children develop these skills, teachers
- Share examples of good writing
- Help children improve their spelling
- Teach lessons to the whole group but also meet with writers individually
- Connect writing to other areas of learning
- Have students share and celebrate each other's writing
Speaking and listening. What's the best way for children to learn how to express their thoughts clearly and develop good listening skills? By speaking and listening in many situations throughout the day. Your child will learn to speak more clearly and confidently, ask questions, and listen for longer periods of time.
To help children improve their speaking and listening skills, teachers
- Encourage children to talk about their learning
- Invite children to work on projects in large and small groups
- Have children ask questions after a child shares her work
- Model taking turns and listening respectfully
Language. To be good readers, writers, and speakers, children need to understand the meaning of words and the rules of spoken and written English. Teachers read aloud books that have new, sophisticated vocabulary, discuss the words' meanings, and encourage children to use them.
To support children's language development, teachers also
- Introduce new vocabulary related to what children are studying
- Talk about parts of words to help children understand new words
- Support dual language learners
A major math goal in the primary grades is for children to learn content (math skills and knowledge) and processes (how to use the skills and knowledge). Processes include being able to problem-solve, reason, and give evidence for answers and thinking. Your child will learn basic math concepts in areas like addition and subtraction, geometry, and measurement and data.
To help children grow in these areas, teachers
- Connect math to questions and problems that come up in daily life
- Teach strategies for solving problems, emphasizing how to use the strategies instead of just getting the right answer
- Give students opportunities to practice what they've learned and show their understanding
- Combine math learning with other subject areas so children learn how math can be used in many ways
Children are natural scientists—they are curious and love to explore and investigate. Science education prepares children for becoming future problem solvers and inventors. Your child will learn concepts and develop skills in different kinds of sciences, including earth science (like weather or natural resources) and life science (like plants or animals).
To help children understand these concepts and develop skills for “doing” science, teachers
- Provide materials for hands-on investigations
- Teach children to use tools and their own senses to make observations
- Plan experiences for children to learn and practice the scientific method:
- Ask questions
- Make and test a hypothesis (an educated guess)
- Observe and experiment
- Record and then represent findings in graphs and tables
- Ask questions that get children thinking deeply
- Connect science with other subjects, like literacy or social studies
In primary grade social studies, children start looking at the bigger world. They'll learn about history, geography, culture, economics, and civics. Studying these areas helps children make sense of their place in their family, school, local community, and the world. It also prepares them to be active citizens in the future.
To help children understand these concepts, teachers
- Ask students to share information about their lives and families
- Create a sense of community in the classroom
- Provide tools and hands-on experiences to help children understand abstract ideas
- Support investigation by having children read, research, conduct interviews, and take field trips
- Connect social studies topics to children's personal lives
Teachers guide students to use technology to find information, understand new ideas, and solve problems. Using technology with others helps children cooperate, consider different ideas, and make decisions together.
Here are some ways your child's class might use computers, tablets, whiteboards, smartphones, digital cameras, or other devices:
- Research information about what they're learning and collaborate with others
- Record stories about their projects
- Use assistive technology for children with delays or disabilities
- Make videos to document their learning
- Do activities and play games that explore educational concepts
The visual and performing arts—including art, music, dance, and theater—invite children to use their imagination. They also support learning in other areas, nurture creativity, and give children ways to express their feelings and show their learning.
Here are some ways children in the primary grades might learn about and through the arts:
- Study art and artists with different styles and from different cultures
- Learn and practice art techniques, and create art using different materials
- Design and create invitations, murals, poems, book illustrations, and other projects
- Use digital art tools and apps
- Make up songs and movements about topics they're studying
- Act out stories they're reading