A Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for girls, Grades 1-12, with a co-educational Early Childhood Program, infant through Kindergarten age.

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Lower School (Grades 1-4)

Focusing on child-centered curriculum that allows students to explore concepts from multiple perspectives through authentic inquiry, Stone Ridge’s Lower School guides students through the process of coming to know themselves, cultivating a joy for learning, making wise choices, and understanding their gifts and their responsibilities in our world as a child of the Sacred Heart.

Nurturing our Community in the Catholic Tradition

All of the girls in the Lower School, Grades 1-4, are guided in their development of a personal and active faith in God. As children of the Sacred Heart, our students learn to be alert to the needs of others and to understand deeply that genuine love always takes the form of service. Guided by a community that models respect, compassion, forgiveness and generosity, our students come to know God and to act for Him in justice and love. A community of many faiths and cultural traditions, we celebrate together and we come to understand our place in a global world.

Joyful Growth for Academic Success

Young children live and learn in a social context and academic success is predicated on social success. The social curriculum in the Lower School is an intentional, research-based program designed to support girls at every level. All Lower School faculty are trained facilitators of the Responsive Classroom approach and specific strategies, including Morning Meeting, logical consequences, academic choice, and interactive modeling are employed to support the social development of our children.

Grade 1

Our Grade One faculty are keenly aware of the potential of their students, and the program is carefully designed to develop the uniqueness of each child. Our faculty use a developmental approach to teaching that matches the natural process through which children develop and learn. The learning environment is arranged for children to remain at the center of the room, with varied opportunities for grouping, collaboration, and independent work. Reading and writing are taught via Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (Teachers College, Columbia University Reading and Writing Project), where faculty continuously assess each child’s individual strengths and needs and personalize instruction to provide the appropriate level of challenge. The research-based workshop model allows teachers to meet the needs of all children through one-on-one conferencing, small group, and whole group instruction. In addition, children use a phonics-based approach to reading, and Words Their Way is used for word study, supporting transfer and application of spelling skills and acquisition of vocabulary across the curriculum, fostering interdisciplinary connections. Written expression, grammar, and vocabulary instruction are embedded into writing lessons. 

Through formal and authentic assessment, Grade One students have been prepared from Kindergarten, and our faculty design instructional experiences to take each child as far as she can go over the course of the year. Students engage at a range of reading levels, each in the good company of her peers in small groups with appropriately challenging explorations to build skills in phonics, decoding, reading fluency, and comprehension. 

Within Stone Ridge’s Lower School, we believe that all children are mathematicians! We utilize Eureka Math and The Contexts for Learning Mathematics Units by Cathy Fosnot to engage students in real-life math exploration; in this process, children share in hands-on experiences, and faculty focus on developing in each students a deep understanding of math concepts in Grade One. Faculty employ applied experiences and cooperative learning to build children’s number sense, basic fact understanding, and place value. Our math instruction, as such, is a vehicle for teaching the process of reasoning through complex problems, providing developmentally-appropriate objectives as children are guided to create a varied toolbox of problem-solving strategies. All instruction is rooted in Stone Ridge’s Math Expectations for Learning; these are the benchmarks for learning agreed upon by the Academic Leadership Team (Director of Curriculum, Division Heads, Assistant Division Heads, and Head of School). Grade One numeracy fosters multiple pathways to understanding, guided carefully by the teacher and Learning Strategist, where children use mathematical models/manipulatives, improve comprehension of number sense, addition, and subtraction. Based upon authentic assessments, children engage in differentiated investigations crafted within precise mathematical contexts. Teachers and Learning Strategists believe that each child is capable of high level numeracy and literacy work guided by teacher assessments, on-going observations, and daily interactions with each student.

The social curriculum holds as much significance as the cognitive curriculum at Stone Ridge, and it is the relationship forged with the teacher and among the children that best fosters key prosocial skills. At this age, social developmental challenges include an overt desire to please the teacher, navigating social acceptance within peer groups, an emphasis on being first and winning, and cultivating skills of cooperation. Cognizant of this, teachers create and promote a collaborative classroom community culture where children are involved in the creation of, and thus invested in, setting the rules and resolving disputes. This practice is rooted in our use of Responsive Classroom strategies for social-emotional learning.

Grade 2

In Grade Two, the curriculum continues in its child-centered focus, allowing children to explore concepts from multiple perspectives through authentic inquiry. We guide children to know themselves, enjoy learning, make wise choices, understand their gifts and their responsibility in our world as children of the Sacred Heart. Grade Two students are as vigorously imaginative as they are uncertain. For our part, we marvel at the depth of thought; we understand the changing social dynamics, and we celebrate gifts that have yet to be discovered. Children learn to communicate with clarity and passion in Grade Two, utilizing a systematic approach to the teaching of writing, which includes: pre-writing, planning, conferencing, editing and revising. In Grade Two, girls are taught to read, write, and communicate independently and with purpose via Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (Teachers College, Columbia University Reading and Writing Project), where faculty continuously assess each child’s unique strengths and needs and personalize instruction to provide the appropriate level of challenge. The research-based workshop model allows teachers to meet the needs of all students through one-on-one conferencing, small group, and whole group instruction. In addition, Words Their Way is used for differentiated small-group word study and spelling acquisition, supporting transfer and application of spelling skills across the curriculum. Written expression, grammar, and vocabulary instruction are embedded into writing lessons. 

Through formal and authentic assessment, Grade Two students have been prepared from Grade One, and our faculty design instructional experiences to take each child as far as she can go over the course of the year. Students engage at a range of reading levels, each in good company of her peers in small groups with appropriately challenging explorations to build skills in phonics, decoding, reading fluency, and improved reading comprehension. 

We utilize Eureka Math and The Contexts for Learning Mathematics Units by Cathy Fosnot to engage students in real-life math exploration; in this process, children share in hands-on experiences, and faculty focus on developing in each students a deep understanding of math concepts in Grade Two. Faculty employ cooperative learning, including investigations, independent practice, differentiation, and teacher-directed conference, to build children’s number sense, basic fact understanding, and place value. Our math instruction, as such, is a vehicle for teaching the process of reasoning through complex problems, providing developmentally-appropriate objectives as children are guided to create a varied toolbox of problem-solving strategies.

The social curriculum holds as much significance as the cognitive curriculum at Stone Ridge, and it is the relationship forged with the teacher and among the children that best fosters key prosocial skills. At this age, social developmental challenges include teasing, an increase in self/peer criticism, individually discerning right from wrong, a continued dependence on the approval of adults, and an inclination towards exaggeration. Cognizant of this, teachers create and promote a collaborative classroom community culture where children are involved in the creation of, and thus invested in, setting the rules and resolving disputes. This practice is rooted in our use of Responsive Classroom strategies for social-emotional learning.

Grade 3

The program in Grade Three utilizes a more precisely guided, direct instruction. In Grade Three, girls begin to gain independence and authentic knowledge of their learning style. At this age, girls learn best through focused lessons of 25-45 minute intervals, and these lessons are structured with an introduction from the teacher and guided-independent work to follow. The learning environment is arranged for children to remain at the center of the room, with varied opportunities for grouping, collaboration, and independent work. Reading is taught through continued leveled assignments from the teacher, in consultation with the Lower School Librarian and Learning Strategist. Reading and writing are taught via Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (Teachers College, Columbia University Reading and Writing Project), where faculty continuously assess each child’s unique strengths and needs and personalize instruction to provide the appropriate level of challenge. The research-based workshop model allows teachers to meet the needs of all students through one-on-one conferencing, small group, and whole group instruction. Words Their Way is used for word study, supporting transfer and application of spelling skills and acquisition of vocabulary across the curriculum. Written expression, grammar, and vocabulary instruction are embedded into writing lessons. 

Through formal and authentic assessment, Grade Three students have been prepared from Grade Two, and our faculty design instructional experiences to take each child as far as she can go over the course of the year. Students engage at a range of reading levels, each in good company of her peers in small groups with appropriately challenging explorations to build skills in phonics, decoding, encoding and reading fluency, and improved reading comprehension. The skill of reading and decoding is now applied to an understanding of genre, historical period, and community. Similarly, Grade Three students learn to write across multiple genres, including: creative narration of real or imagined experiences, informative/explanatory pieces to examine a topic and convey ideas with clarity, opinion/point of view pieces with supporting evidence, and a research-based project. With guidance and support from the teacher and Learning Strategist, girls produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. Girls develop and strengthen writing through the process of planning, revising, and editing, each grounded in Writer’s Workshop. 

We utilize Eureka Math and The Contexts for Learning Mathematics Units by Cathy Fosnot to engage students in real-life math exploration; in this process, children share in hands-on experiences, and faculty focus on developing in each students a deep understanding of math concepts which is shift away from epmemorizing standard algorithm. Faculty employ applied experiences and cooperative learning to build children’s number sense, basic fact understanding, and place value. Our math instruction, as such, is a vehicle for teaching the process of reasoning through complex problems, providing developmentally-appropriate objectives as children are guided to build a varied toolbox of problem-solving strategies. Grade Three numeracy fosters multiple pathways to understanding, guided carefully by the teacher and Learning Strategist, where children continue to utilize mathematical models/manipulatives, clarity of number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In Grade Three, girls begin to learn to fluently multiply and divide using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division or properties of operations. Based upon authentic assessments, children engage in differentiated investigations crafted within precise mathematical contexts. Teachers and Learning Strategists believe that each child is capable of high level numeracy and literacy work guided by teacher assessments, on-going observations, and daily interactions with each student.

The social curriculum continues with as much significance as the cognitive curriculum, and it is the relationship forged with the teacher and among the children that best fosters key prosocial skills. At this age, social developmental challenges include expression in moments of frustration, formation of friendships, gaining independence, and girls beginning to sense differences among their peer group. Cognizant of this, teachers create and promote a cooperative classroom community culture where children are involved in the creation of, and thus invested in, setting the rules and resolving disputes. This practice is rooted in our use of Responsive Classroom strategies for social-emotional learning.

Grade 4

The program in Grade Four combines multiple pedagogical approaches to instruction, preparing the girls for Grade Five and the structures of Middle School. This includes focused lessons with direct instruction and modeling from the teacher and an increased emphasis on cooperative group work. By Grade Four, girls have cultivated an increased sense of independence; at this age, girls are better able to self-advocate and identify how they learn best. The learning environment is arranged for children to remain at the center of the room, with designated meeting areas for morning meeting, closing circle, and mini-lessons. Reading is taught through continued leveled assignments as assessed by the teacher, in consultation with the Lower School Librarian and Learning Strategist. Reading and writing are taught via Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop (Teachers College, Columbia University Reading and Writing Project), where faculty continuously assess each child’s unique strengths and needs and personalize instruction to provide the appropriate level of challenge. The research-based workshop model allows teachers to meet the needs of all students through one-on-one conferencing, small and whole group instruction. Words Their Way is used for word study, supporting transfer and application of spelling skills and acquisition of vocabulary across the curriculum. Written expression, grammar, and vocabulary instruction are embedded into writing lessons. In Grade Four, Social Studies is taught as a content area via nonfiction instruction and historical research using primary and secondary sources.

Continuous formal and informal assessments allow our Grade Four students to continue to engage in a range of reading levels. Reading fluency and confidence are cultivated with appropriately challenging explorations to build skills in etymology, decoding, encoding, vocabulary acquisition, and reading comprehension. Our reading lessons are informed by ongoing assessments, administered together by the Learning Strategist and classroom teacher, to differentiate for each child and begin at the appropriate reading level. The skill of reading and decoding extends to an understanding of genre, historical period, and varying purpose. Similarly, Grade Four students write across multiple genres, including: creative narration of real or imagined experiences, expository pieces to convey ideas with clarity, opinion/point of view pieces with supporting evidence, a literary analysis for theme, and research. With guidance and support from the teacher and Learning Strategist, girls produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. Girls develop and strengthen writing through the process of planning, revising, and editing, each grounded in Writer’s Workshop. Regular conferring with classroom teachers allow for one-on-one feedback on voice, grammar, structure, transition, spelling, and purpose.

In Grade Four, we utilize Eureka Math and The Contexts for Learning Mathematics Units by Cathy Fosnot to engage students in real-life math exploration; in this process, children share in hands-on experiences, and faculty focus on developing in each students a deep understanding of math concepts which is shift away from memorizing standard algorithm. Faculty employ practical experiences and cooperative learning to build on children’s reasoning through complex problems, providing developmentally-appropriate objectives as children are guided to refine their varied toolbox of problem-solving strategies. Grade Four numeracy fosters multiple pathways to understanding, where children focus on clarity of number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In Grade Four, girls learn to transfer base-ten understandings to fractions; this, along with solidifying each student's understanding of division, is the central content of mathematics in Grade Four. In tandem with continued geometric understandings, this prepares students for the content of Grade Five. Teachers and Learning Strategists believe that each child is capable of high level numeracy and literacy work if she is allowed to construct her own understandings through guided-cognitive inquiry; this practice is carried carefully through Grade Four, preparing girls for the rigors of Middle School.

Once a cycle, in Grade Four girls participate in an integrated STEAM class (Science, Technology, Arts, and Mathematics combine). Grade Four STEAM classes are a continuation of the Science and Engineering classes and are grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Grade Four girls benefit from this purposeful emphasis on interdisciplinarity work, supported by the Lower School Science Specialist, the Lower School Art Teacher, the resources from the Maker Space, and the Lower School Educational Technologist.

The social curriculum continues with as much significance as the cognitive curriculum, and it is the relationship forged with the teacher and among the children that best fosters key prosocial skills. At this age, social developmental challenges include the formation of friendship, the balance of gaining independence, testing authority, and girls beginning to enter the dynamic process of adolescence and puberty. Cognizant of this, teachers create and promote a cooperative classroom community culture where children are involved in the creation of, and thus invested in, setting the rules and resolving disputes. This practice is rooted in our use of Responsive Classroom strategies for social-emotional learning. It is important to note that Responsive Classroom directly feeds the social emotional curriculum of Developmental Designs in Stone Ridge's Middle School, beginning in Grade Five.

French

An appreciation for French language and culture is instilled early in the Lower School. Beginning in the Little Hearts Program, girls and boys are exposed to French through songs, games, and read alouds. In Grades One through Four, girls develop their language skills further by taking French three times per cycle. Content includes introductions, the expression of feelings, basic conversation, telling time, elements of community, our School traditions, and introductory grammar (verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions). Francophone countries and cultures are explored in each grade, and girls implement French language skills within songs and readings at Primes and during liturgy. Finally, an ongoing cultural exchange is shared via video with a class in Martinique.