Nowhere is the development of the whole student more important than in the Lower School. Every aspect of the school day is designed toward the encouragement of a young person's development mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and ethically. Although classroom experiences are relied on as the primary method of instruction, the academic program is enhanced through field trips, guest speakers, games and as much "hands-on" experience as possible.
The curriculum for first through fifth grades is integrated and sequential, consisting of what might be described as a spiral effect. Material taught in one grade is reviewed in the next, added to, and extended both vertically and horizontally. This type of coordinated instruction is designed to introduce practice, to review, and to extend skills at each level. Lower school students take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in 1st, 3rd and 5th grades. Performance on these tests consistently ranks our students in the top 1% nationally.
George Walton Academy students receive instruction in computers and use them on a regular basis. Science is approached from an experimental point of view using experiments which teach the hows and whys of the subject. Social studies begins with the concept of small communities then broadens and branches out through the natural sequence of hometown, city, state, country, and the world. This approach encourages a young person's understanding and tolerance of other cultures and ways of life.
In addition to traditional academic disciplines, students in first through fifth grades are scheduled through the week for classes in art, physical education, music, library, Bible and computer. In these classes, students learn from instructors of departments outside their normal classroom. By receiving instruction from other adults, Lower School students are broadening their concepts and abilities to function with different authorities and their peers in varied situations.
There is cooperation and coordination among teachers at each level. The same textbook series is used in each discipline and grade. The Lower School stresses the development of a firm foundation in oral and written language arts. Students are encouraged to develop personal reading habits. A major portion of the curriculum is devoted to the instruction of facts and skills with emphasis on reading and mathematics. In these subjects, attempts are made to individualize instruction so that a student may proceed at a pace which is proper for him/her. We are careful to see that a student does not proceed vertically too fast, and we have the resources in both of these programs to provide the horizontal foundation so important to future growth and success.