Peoria Academy’s Elementary School students thrive in an atmosphere that is nurturing and challenging. Academic opportunities are stressed, as well as social/emotional needs. We know that children learn better when ideas are connected. Consequently, interdisciplinary or “ thematic learning” in which teachers apply one theme in reading, writing, math, art and social studies is integral to our program. Peoria Academy’s appropriately challenging curriculum is adaptable for each student’s individual needs. We differentiate our curriculum to our students by providing supplemental instruction as needed to assist with mastering concepts. We know that learning is enhanced when new ideas progress from the concrete to the conceptual, and that children learn by doing — so, many of our Lower School activities are hands-on. We believe students can learn from each other so we provide opportunities for collaborative learning in which students have partners or work in small groups. As a result, while learning to read and write and perform mathematical functions, students also learn to communicate and cooperate. They learn to ask questions, think critically, write effectively, listen carefully, and put all those pieces together.
In our Kindergarten program at Peoria Academy we welcome students wherever they are on the developmental continuum and provide them with learning opportunities that will promote their further development. Our curriculum is designed to accept their diversity and to support instruction that recognizes their differences. Kindergarten is a special beginning that focuses on the whole child. We foster both cognitive and effective learning, providing a foundation for solid academic skills. Our Kindergarten program takes a student-centered, inquiry-based approach, encouraging students to learn through both manipulative and active learning opportunities. Thematic units allow us to integrate multiple subjects around one common unit. Kindergartner’s abilities vary and our small classes allow our teachers to differentiate instruction to match learning activities to the readiness of each child.
In many ways, 1st grade is a year of important transitions as children continue to dive into developing deeper academic skills. First grade is a crucial year for building reading skills and our classroom is a positive place, which encourages reading and writing. Our first grade classroom is organized more like a traditional elementary school classroom, with tables and desks at which students spend more of their time. There is a transition to more extensive learning, with less playtime and more academic instruction, which allows students to increase their mastery of concepts old and new. We recognize different children learn at different paces, especially in first grade when there are many changes and many new skills to acquire. Peoria Academy is equipped with Supplemental Instructors to assist our students in mastering new concepts and our small class sizes allow us to ensure each student has the opportunity to receive individualized attention. Students receive the highest quality math curriculum as we integrate Singapore Math into our daily routine. In first grade we continue to use thematic lessons to integrate our topics across all subject areas further increasing the opportunities for students to fully master the curriculum.
Second grade continues to challenge our students to succeed. Academic opportunities are stressed, as well as social and emotional needs. Strong focus is put on mastery of skills first introduced in first grade. Our students will be immersed in literature throughout the year. Using a thematic approach we will integrate concepts across all subjects providing opportunities for our students to have a solid understanding of our curriculum. Our curriculum encourages them to think beyond themselves this year as we travel the world through our lessons and tap into our own diverse backgrounds to produce a well-rounded understanding of many different regions around the world. Students will increase their responsibility level this year by participating in workshops and free choice centers. We continue to offer Supplemental Instruction to further assist with the comprehension of lessons.
The development of responsibility, self reliance and independent work habits is a major focus of the third grade. Our young readers continue to build their comprehension skills and are introduced to analytical reading informational text. The writing process is continued and formal research skills are taught along with technology skills to enhance the presentation of the children’s work. In mathematics, new algorithms are introduced with manipulative materials. Familiar concepts are reinforced and the children are encouraged to engage in deeper levels of understanding in mathematical problem solving and reasoning.Social studies provides opportunities for cross curricular connections and reflective writing projects. A simulation unit on the Pilgrims invites the children to form a colony and work in cooperative groups to simulate the trials faced by the early settlers. During the course of the unit they keep a journal and learn about writing historical fiction. The Greek unit emphasizes the many contributions the ancient Greeks made in language, government, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theatre. The children learn Greek roots in language, study geometry and perform plays based on Greek myths. Japan is an intensive unit focusing on the country’s geography, history, and culture. The children present what they have learned in a school wide cultural exchange. We explore great figures in history in our Biography unit. The children then present their historical figure to the school in a Wax Museum. Science is taught using the Lab Learner program which challenges the children to explore, question and formulate theories through hands-on experiments in Electricity, The Properties of Matter, the Human Body and the Solar System.
Our 4th grade classroom teacher as well as the supplemental instruction teacher provide our students with one-on-one attention and differentiated learning. Our small class size gives our students the freedom to choose topics of interest and the time to have meaningful discussions that tie personal experiences into academic discussions. While exposing the students to increasingly challenging academics, we take the time to share meaningful social experiences, embrace differences and work in collaborative group environments. Cross-curricular learning is seen every day as our 4th grade dives through the history of America by regions. Outside elements and historical artifacts are brought in for exploring an up close approach to learning what makes each region different. Science lessons are integrated with our social studies and math curriculum as we to discuss climate, agriculture, and archaeology. Mathematics often contains a writing component to explain the algorithm of an equation and art is intertwined through symmetry, tessellation, design, and complicated pattern.
Peoria Academy is alive with art! Our students are fortunate to experience an array of artistic mediums before they graduate on to high school!
From pottery to printmaking, students are immersed in the world of fine arts beginning with our early childhood program. Each year students will study and practice nine different art mediums including painting, drawing, and sculpture, just to name a few! Along with learning all about these exciting mediums, PA’s art curriculum has a bit of history built in as well. At the beginning of each new unit, students will learn about a famous artist that correlates with that month’s medium.
As a part of Peoria Academy’s exceptional art program, the school puts on both an art show and an art fair. The art show displays work created by each and every student in the school and is exhibited at a local gallery. PA’s art fair is a fun carnival-like event that highlights the arts, with pottery demos, student performances, a kid’s art tent, and even a band. It’s a fun event that the whole family can enjoy!
Music and movement education begins in Kindergarten, where music classes present hands-on opportunities for students to gain an understanding of musical concepts and become aware of and increase their individual music abilities. Students are engaged in a program, which focuses on developing musically independent students who experience, explore, listen to, perform, and create music. By incorporating different instruments, students are introduced to many different types of music and sounds. Beginning with simple themes of pitches and sounds in Kindergarten advancing to melodies and chords by fourth grade, our Elementary School students will continuously develop their skills as a platform for concepts to be learned in Middle School.
Physical Education is combined with music and drama for our Early Childhood classes. (Pre-k and Junior Kindergarten) At this age, music, movement, and creativity work together naturally for children. Students will practice locomotor and non-locomotor skills during daily warm-up activities. Through the use of rotating stations, students will practice manipulative skills and skill techniques for a variety of individual and team sports; music basics including note recognition, appropriate use of percussion instruments, and combining movement with music; and finally, creative and dramatic games and activities using one’s body, props and puppets that promote physical growth, fitness, and coordination. Themes used in the class for songs and games coincide with the themes taught in the general classroom.
For our Elementary school students, grades k-4, physical education class our classes focus on introducing to mastering loco-motor skills. Our students also focus on personal and social responsibility to enforce cooperation, sportsmanship, and safety in all PE activities. Practicing healthy habits is a focus in our PE classes. Students are given the opportunity to participate in fitness testing as well as discuss heart-related fitness and other fitness activities. By the end of fourth grade, our students will transition into a more advanced curriculum that focuses on bringing basic manipulative skills and movement concepts into full game activities for team and individual sports.
Experts say that children under the age of 12 are “naturally bi-lingual”. With that concept in mind, our program focuses on our children’s natural inclination toward play, music, stories and acting by involving them in Spanish listening and speaking activities where they enjoy learning. Beginning in Early Childhood, our curriculum progresses each year to build on what our children have previously learned to comprehend and express.