- First Primary (1st Grade)
- Second Primary (2nd Grade)
- Third Primary (3rd Grade)
- Fourth Primary (4th Grade)
The curriculum is designed around thematic units with materials and activities chosen for their relevance to the young child’s world. A developmentally appropriate approach to teaching our young students is used, which is based on research and best practices as determined by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The approach, known as Integrated Thematic Instruction, hangs instruction on a theme with which the girls can easily engage. Themes are chosen for their relevance to the young child‘s world and with the interests of girls in mind. Our belief, based on the research of Jean Piaget and supported by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is that children develop and learn best through play.
Children learn concepts through experience and touching, which often happens when they play. In addition to being a natural activity for children, play helps them learn social skills, promotes their emotional development, and allows them to exercise their creativity. Our PreK-4 classroom is well-equipped with materials that encourage imagination and socialization – including blocks, books, math manipulatives, paint, dramatic play, and sensory activities. Hands-on, concrete experiences provide the foundation upon which abstractions grow. The Pre-Kinderten curriculum includes language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, art, music, French, religion, and PE. These subjects are integrated through unifying themes that spark curiosity and engage the child in active exploration.
Our Pre-Kindergarten program provides a safe and nurturing environment that addresses the developmental needs of the total child. The spiritual, physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of each child is promoted through a concrete, play oriented approach to early childhood education.
In Kindergarten children begin in earnest to be readers, writers, and mathematicians. They grow daily in the exercise of each of these skills as they become active learners in the school community.
The curriculum includes four main subject areas: language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. These subjects are integrated through unifying themes that spark curiosity and engage the child in active exploration.
The classroom environment, rich in materials to stimulate the child‘s natural sense of wonder, encourages learning as a whole—integrated and meaningful.
Writing and Literacy: Writing and illustrating stories begin almost immediately in First Primary, building on the foundation laid in kindergarten. Writing focuses on science and social studies themes as well as child directed areas of interest, research and discovery. In First Primary, a formal study of the English language is integrated with the student‘s writing. This includes types of sentences, capitalization rules, punctuation, and identifying the subject and predicate of a sentence. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and their correct use are also studied. Spelling is introduced in First Primary and continues throughout the primary grades.
Mathematics: Mathematics instruction in the primary grades accommodates itself to the way children think. It is based on the knowledge that active learning is the foundation for understanding. The goal of achieving mathematical literacy for students at The Academy is a priority.
Science: Students in First Primary use their senses to explore the concept of living and nonliving things. They work in groups in science centers, developing the skills of measuring, observing, predicting, and communicating in scientific language. Students investigate sound and light, solving problems (designing things and improving systems), animals and plants (physical characteristics and how living things change), and earth and space science (objects in the sky and seasons). Activities are hands-on, project based and include the use of audio- visual experiences, songs, and in-class projects.
Social Studies: Rules and communities, citizenship, holidays and local culture, environment and meeting basic needs are the themes for First Primary Social Studies. Map reading with a focus on symbols and cardinal directions is a unit of study. Students analyze the relationship of their own life timelines and biographies to historical timelines and biographies. First Primary students explore these topics through literature, songs, audio-visual materials, and computer technology. Students read, listen, discuss, write about, and create projects based on what they are studying.
Art: The First Primary art curriculum moves the children naturally through lessons that introduce the elements and principles of art and the use of various media. Work with paper, clay, paints, and pastels offer many opportunities for exploration and creativity. Students are also given instruction in analyzing art and are encouraged to express their own ideas about what they see.
Music: First Primary music class offers students the opportunity to explore and create melodic and rhythmic patterns, play instruments, and express musical ideas through song and dance. Movement is an integral part of the experience. Through movement exploration, children develop body coordination as well as expressive sensitivity connected to music. With teacher instruction, children are encouraged to create original and spontaneous tunes, known as Arioso. This type of conversational singing is a great way for students to tap into their imagination and demonstrate their musical knowledge and skills. An atmosphere of learning through fun is maintained. The girls prepare for a short performing arts experience by participating in a mini-musical.
French: In First Primary French, students master numbers in French. Students participate in units of study on holidays, weather, seasons, months, food, and pets. Students create a book of French vocabulary words: animals, fruits, seasons. At this level, using an aural- oral, students are able to speak fluently in French as they introduce themselves, tell their age and express what they feel.
Religion: First Primary religion focuses on the theme of the Holy Trinity. The students deepen their awareness of God as a loving, forgiving Father. The children learn that Jesus, the Son of God, is our friend and brother. The Holy Spirit is seen as our source of strength, peace, and joy. Participation in the Church community is explored through units on the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist. The course also lays the groundwork for the study of morality as the children learn that they are responsible to love and care for all God‘s gifts of creation.
Physical Education: The Physical Education program for First Primary focuses on the development of hand-eye coordination, locomotor skills, and sequence of movements. Games and activities are organized to develop the values of good sportsmanship, teamwork, and safety.
Reading/Language Arts: Using a balanced literacy approach, students are exposed to a wide variety of reading resources, including leveled readers, fiction, and nonfiction titles. Students also engage in genre studies. Instruction continues to emphasize decoding skills, comprehension, and the expansion of reading strategies, leading to a self-monitoring system. An Orton-Gillingham phonics based program is used to provide advanced support in decoding multisyllabic words and to build fluency which aids in comprehension. Additional works of literature chosen for the appeal to girls are introduced across the curriculum throughout the year. Famous women in history, author studies, and historical fiction are experienced by the students. The program is designed to include the whole class, small group, and individualized instruction. Students become acquainted with contemporary authors and artists. They enjoy learning about the creators of their favorite books, who bring them beauty and truth through words and pictures. Students write every day. They are taught the writing process and take many pieces through to publication. They learn how words work to develop spelling skills that go beyond the weekly spelling test. Cursive writing is introduced and practiced in the second semester. Study and Research Skills begin in Second Primary. Learning to take notes on important information is incorporated into the second semester‘s instruction with a product in the form of a report, which is presented to the class. Technology is incorporated in the research process.
Mathematics: The goal of achieving mathematical literacy for students at The Academy is a priority. By today‘s definition, mathematical literacy is having a range of sophisticated mathematical knowledge and skills that extend beyond basic calculation skills. A carefully mapped out sequence of instruction interweaves concepts and the presented skills throughout the curriculum. The curriculum is structured to provide multiple exposures to topics and frequent opportunities to review and practice skills. Students explore mathematical concepts and reasoning through various hands-on activities, math tools, and math games. Problem solving and reasoning are heavily emphasized in the program. Students also learn to master basic math facts with automaticity. Skills covered at this grade include: place value, money, telling time, fractions, geometric shapes, data analysis, measurement, multi-digit addition and subtraction algorithms, and introduction to multiplication.
Social Studies: Second Primary begins with the discussions of being a good citizen, building community, and the importance of having rules and laws. Having a growth mindset is introduced and encouraged. Students explore the traditions, food, clothing, homes, music, and other aspects of different cultures while recognizing and describing how people from different cultures are both similar and unique. Map study includes map symbols and keys, compass rose, graphs and charts, landforms, continents, and oceans. Students research a famous woman in history and present an oral presentation.
Science: Science instruction in Second Primary engages the girls in the wonder and study of the natural world. It provides activity-based, hands-on experiences related to both physical and life sciences, such as life cycles, habitants, and properties of matter. The students learn about the parts of the brain and create a model of the brain n collaboration with students from AP Biology. Students also study neuroplasticity and how practicing mindfulness affects the brain. All units encourage the children to discover and apply these concepts to real life in exposing them to develop responsible behavior and a sense of stewardship, while promoting growth in understanding of the interdependence of humans and the environment. Students learn basic research skills and use the results to plan and present a project. Students engage in experimentation and learn how to document their observations.
Art: The Second Primary art curriculum progresses naturally through lessons that introduce the elements and principles of art and the use of various media. Work with paper, clay, paints, and pastels offers many opportunities for exploration and creativity. Students are also given instruction in analyzing art and are encouraged to express their own ideas about what they see.
Music: Second Primary music class offers students the opportunity to explore and create melodic and rhythmic patterns, play instruments, and express musical ideas through song and dance. Movement is an integral part of the experience. Through movement exploration, children develop body coordination as well as expressive sensitivity connected to music. A variety of musical styles and genres are played to expose the students to the works of the great masters. With guidance, students experience and analyze a variety of musical concepts such as tempo, beat, duple and triple meter, dynamics, pitch registration, directional patterns in melodies, and instrumentation. Students are also introduced to basic music theory, including note names, note values, clefs, and rhythmic notation. Free singing is another important element of music class. With teacher instruction, children are encouraged to create original and spontaneous tunes, known as Arioso. This type of conversational singing is a great way for students to tap into their imagination and demonstrate their musical knowledge and skills. An atmosphere of learning through fun is maintained. Second Primary makes its debut in performance art through a ‘show and tell’ class presentation. In alignment with our Music Standards, students present the final version of personal created music to others and explain the connection to expressive content. The girls also prepare for a short performing arts experience by participating in a mini-musical.
French: In Second Primary French, the students expand their mastery of numbers in French. They participate in units of study based on holidays, weather, seasons, months, food, and pets. Using an aural-oral approach, students are able to introduce themselves and share preferences through student-made videos. The students are able to construct short, meaningful sentences using studies vocabulary.
Religion: Instruction in the sacraments is presented in preparation of First Holy Eucharist and First Reconciliation for Catholic students. The students participate in a First Communion liturgy. Their understanding of the Trinity grows as God is presented as a loving Father who forgives them, Jesus the Son who gives the gift of Himself and the Holy Spirit who calls us to serve others. The study of morality continues as the children learn the nature of sin and its effect.
Physical Education: The Physical Education program for Second Primary focuses on the development of body control, a variety of locomotor skills, and sequence of movements. Games are organized to develop the values of good sportsmanship, teamwork, and safety.
Language Arts: In Third Primary, students practice reading/comprehension strategies and are challenged in their critical thinking skills. Through units using novels, the students study story structure and elements (character, setting, conflict) and the author‘s purpose and technique. Students read novels of different genres. Selected novels are read together and discussed in class. Students are allowed some freedom in choosing an on-level book of their choice to participate in peer led book clubs. This allows the students to practice communicating their thoughts, respecting all points of view, and engage in authentic dialogue. Students present independent book talks and creative projects. The final year of the Orton-Gillingham based phonics is presented to provide advanced support in decoding multisyllabic words and to build fluency which aids in comprehension. Instruction in writing, spelling, and grammar holds a more prominent place in daily lessons. Students receive instruction in the writing process and produce multiple types of writing such as poems, narratives, opinion writings, persuasive writings, and letter writing. The study of sentence structure, parts of speech, and punctuation is reviewed and expanded in the Third Primary. Cursive handwriting is fine tuned. The technique of writing dialogue is introduced and practiced throughout their various writing pieces. Study and research skills are reinforced and practiced. Note-taking continues, and students apply this skill to research topics online.
Mathematics: Mathematics instruction in the Third Primary involves numbers through 100,000,000 and beyond in place value, fractions and decimals, multiplication and division, multi-digit multiplication algorithms, measurement, area and perimeter, geometry and angles, analyzing and graphing data, adding and subtracting decimals, telling time to the minute, and elapsed time. The lesson sequences give opportunity for skill practice and mastery. Strategies for word problems are introduced and reinforced for a deeper understanding of word problems. Multi-step word problems challenge the students to apply all concepts and mathematical operations to accurately solve. This leads to a more fluent ability to articulate their thinking when in a discussion and communicating about math. Games are used as a vital part of the program to enhance, build upon, and enrich their number sense. In addition, students are provided with individualized math support for concept enrichment and fluency. Technology-based resources developed by mathematicians and cognitive scientists assess students individually and continuously to tailor support to their respective, individualized needs.
Social Studies: The Third Primary program begins with instruction in map and globe skills and continues with the concepts of continents, oceans, hemispheres, poles, and longitude and latitude. Third Primary focuses on Louisiana History beginning with Louisiana’s early settlers, migration of the Acadians, Louisiana’s government, and economy. All units of Louisiana History embrace and highlight the many reasons why Louisiana is unique. Hands-on activities and field studies help students to master these c concepts and enrich their understanding.
Science: The science program in the Third Primary capitalizes on a child‘s natural curiosity and sense of wonder. The curriculum is experiential in nature, fostering student observation and inquiry. The program stimulates the imagination and develops logical thinking skills. It demonstrates to children the importance of science in their daily lives. The children learn the procedures and skills of scientific inquiry, and hands-on activities encourage exploration and discovery of fundamental scientific concepts. Students study earth science with a focus on layers of the earth, volcanoes and earthquakes, and rocks and minerals. The Third Primary uses an online techbook that covers topics associated with plant life, adaptations, eosystems, inheritance, weather, electricity and magnets.
Art: Art instruction in the Third Primary includes studies of the elements of art and in the use of various media as children work with paper, clay, paints, and pastels. Aesthetic perception, creative expression, art heritage, and aesthetic valuing are encouraged as students explore the principles of art.
Music: Exploring music and singing is continued in Third Primary, but with focused attention to pitch, tone, technique, and diction. With guidance, students experience, analyze, and demonstrate a variety of musical concepts such as tempo, beat, duple and triple meter, dynamics, pitch registration, directional patterns in melodies, and instrumentation. Throughout the year, students demonstrate an awareness of musical contrasts, and the concepts of melodic and rhythmic notations become more complex. A variety of musical styles and genres are played to expose the students to the works of the great masters. An atmosphere of learning through fun is maintained. A mini-musical is performed by students in the Third Primary and choral singing for special events and liturgies is provided by Third Primary students.
French: Third Primary students learn French language connected with family and home. Students associate words with body movements. They then begin to listen to and tell stories in the target language. Students use greetings to introduce themselves and write new vocabulary: fruits, vegetables, objects in the classroom, animals, seasons, and numbers. The students become more fluent in the French language, conversing briefly in the target language, reading short stories, watch short videos in French, and expressing comprehension in those mediums.
Religion: Third Primary religion focuses on Christ, the Church, and the dignity of each individual. Through the Apostles Creed the students learn the traditional marks of the Catholic Church and some of the beliefs held by Catholics. All seven sacraments are studied, and students explore a variety of ministries within the Church. The discussion of morality at this level presents the Ten Commandments, Jesus‘ law of love, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as guides to live by.
Physical Education: The Third Primary Physical Education program focuses on introducing basic physical fitness concepts and game strategy formation. students are engaged in a variety of activities and organized drills to promote skill development. Good sportsmanship and team cooperation are stressed.
Language Arts: The primary goal of language arts instruction in Fourth Primary is to provide students with authentic learning experiences. Reading, grammar, writing, and vocabulary are closely intertwined, so that students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the skills learned in multiple ways. The reading workshop model is used to analyze literature, spark discussion, and learn to find a deeper meaning in the fiction genre. Nonfiction units teach research skills and include research clubs that guide readers to use nonfiction text for learning. Through analyzing novels and writing various types of text, students learn to extend and incorporate vocabulary. Students learn to use different comprehension strategies that depend on the type of fiction or nonfiction text from which they are reading. Research assignments help students to further understand the uses of nonfiction texts from multiple sources, and the use of correct grammar and good vocabulary comes full circle when they are able to write well organized multi-paragraph essays explaining the chosen topic. After students have gained confidence and independence, book clubs and passion projects are introduced to teach responsibility and to encourage students to take ownership of their learning.
Mathematics: The Fourth Primary mathematics program works toward a deep conceptual understanding of mathematical topics and skills through models coupled with traditional methods of solving mathematical operations. Critical thinking skills are honed through the use of rigorous tasks and word problems. Students leave Fourth Primary with a variety of reliable strategies for solving difficult problems or answering questions that require higher order thinking. Students are encouraged to engage in educational discourse through discussions about multiple approaches to solving the same problems. Differences in thinking are encouraged and celebrated.
Social Studies: Project-based learning opportunities are the core of social studies in Fourth Primary . Students use nonfiction books, online news articles, videos, nonfiction passages, maps, graphs, and similar resources to gain information about a chosen topic. Writing is often incorporated in social studies and requires students to think more deeply and to form an opinion about the subject matter. After forming an opinion, students learn to defend their opinion by giving sufficient, relevant, and reliable evidence in a well-written writing piece. Through units on map skills, United States geography, and Civics, students gain knowledge and an appreciation for the country we live in and the world around us.
Science: The science program in the Fourth Primary is project based. The students are provided with authentic learning opportunities through research, presentations, projects, and experiments. The national science standards guide instruction and focus on the multiple dimensions of science, content, practices, and the engineering processes affiliated with student-centered science. Field trips are strategically planned in conjunction with the subject matter and are used to spark inspiration for projects and to reinforce learning that has occurred in the classroom setting. When possible, our beautiful grounds are also used to facilitate instruction and to take learning outside. Most projects are inquiry-based, actively engage students in hands-on learning, and encourage them to ask questions and to actively seek the answers.
Art: Instruction in the elements of art and the use of various media become more sophisticated at the Fourth Primary level. Aesthetic perception, creative expression, and aesthetic valuing are encouraged as students explore the principles of art.
Music: Exploring music and singing with focused attention to pitch, tone, technique, and diction is the core of the music program in Fourth Primary. With guidance, students experience, analyze, and demonstrate a variety of musical concepts such as tempo, beat, duple and triple meter, dynamics, pitch registration, directional patterns in melodies, and instrumentation. Throughout the year, students demonstrate an awareness of musical contrasts, vocal blending, and the concepts of melodic and rhythmic notations become more complex. A variety of musical styles and genres are played to expose the students to the works of the great masters. An atmosphere of learning through fun is maintained. Experiences with performance art is accomplished through the mini-musical productions and choral experiences both liturgical and secular.
French: Fourth Primary French students begin studies of the fundamentals of verb conjugation and written translation. Vocabulary is expanded through the addition of adjectives and imperatives. Students practice usage through animated songs, guided conversations, oral presentations based on visuals that they have created, student choreography, and written exercises. Emphasis is on comprehension of spoken conversation and use of sentences in writing and speaking.
Religion: Morality, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments and community life are the subjects of the Fourth Primary religion program. Moral values are fostered through reflection, discussion, and prayer. Students learn to connect the Goals and Criteria to their responsibility as Christians to live in the example of Jesus. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is emphasized, with stress on God’s mercy and forgiveness. Students take a leadership role by leading at least one Liturgy.
Physical Education: The Fourth Primary Physical Education program focuses on basic physical fitness concepts and game strategy formation. students are engaged in a variety of activities and organized drills to promote skill development. Good sportsmanship and team-cooperation are stressed.
Genius Hour is a student-lead, multi-layered research project based completely on the passions and interests of each individual student. The student's deep research leads them to create a finished product. These products include new inventions, videos, websites, apps, experiments, small businesses, and stewardship opportunities.
It's Spirit Week!
A favorite event for the whole school, ASH spirit week is held in early September and kickstarts our Sacred Heart spirit for the year! Students, faculty, and staff all dress according to each day's theme and each class prepares a skit for the week-ending pep rally!