Focusing on the Whole Child
Nowhere is the development of the whole student more important than in the lower school.
At GWA we’ve designed every aspect of the school day with a focus on encouraging a young person's mental, physical, emotional, social and ethical growth. Although we rely on classroom experiences as the primary method of instruction, GWA’s lower school academic program is enhanced through field trips, guest speakers, games and as much hands-on experience as possible.
A Firm Foundation
Ultimately, our goal is to develop children who love to learn. We embolden curiosity, creativity and natural wonder in the pursuit of knowledge.
To facilitate a consistent approach to student development, lower school teachers cooperate and coordinate at every grade level and in every subject area. They also seek to differentiate instruction for the individual so that students can progress at a pace that’s comfortable and appropriate for them.
Instead of rapid vertical advancement in subject areas, our approach instead utilizes resources to provide a solid horizontal foundation – one that equips our younger students with the tools and skills necessary for long-term growth and success.
Our curriculum in the lower grades is integrated and sequential. We like to describe it as a having a spiral effect: material taught in one grade is reviewed, augmented and extended in the next.
While our programs stress the development of basic comprehension in oral and written language arts, we also devote a major portion of the curriculum to an emphasis on reading and mathematics.
Lower school students at GWA receive focused instruction in technology and use either iPads or laptops in class on a regular basis. We approach science from a hands-on, experimental perspective, and the social studies curriculum not only covers the basics of geography but also encourages a young person's understanding and tolerance of other cultures.
In addition to traditional academic disciplines, students attend weekly classes in Spanish, art, physical education, music, Bible and the media center. Learning from instructors in departments outside their normal classroom allows students to broaden their understanding of concepts, and it also enhances their ability to function with different authorities as well as their peers in varied situations. Our lower school students also attend recess daily.
Lower school students take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in first, third and fifth grades. GWA students’ performance on these tests consistently outranks state and national averages.