The goal of Burke’s Lower School — kindergarten through grade four — is to instill a love of learning and the confidence that comes from developing the core competencies and strategies for learning that our students will need to be successful at Burke’s and beyond. We have three to four homeroom sections in kindergarten and two sections in grades one to four. Each homeroom section has a lead teacher and an associate teacher to ensure personalized attention. In addition to their homeroom teachers, our Lower School students work with specialist teachers in the following curriculum areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Music, Art, Technology, Drama, Community Service, Library and Physical Education.
We have two learning specialists who work with our Lower School students as part of our Learning Center. In addition, our Extended Care and After School Enrichment Program provides a range of activities and classes every full day of the school year.
Burke’s Lower School program provides academic challenge and encourages students to learn through the natural joy and exploration of childhood. Our curriculum builds on a foundation of understanding how girls learn at each stage of their development. We draw on the best education practices of the past enhanced by recent advances in brain research and pedagogy.
Our classes balance individual and collaborative work. We help our students master facts while they learn strategies for problem solving and intellectual exploration. To enhance learning, we use instructional materials that relate directly to our students interests and feature women role models. At every level, we expect mastery of skills and concepts only when students have reached the optimal stage of cognitive development.
Along with solid skill development, we encourage independence in thought. Students learn to gather information and to synthesize, form and support their own well-developed arguments. Multiple perspectives help students to develop critical thinking skills. Students learn to challenge assumptions, identify essential questions, gather diverse information and form and support well-reasoned opinions.
The social and emotional development of our students is equally important. We work closely with our girls to help foster a realistic and positive sense of themselves and to gain confidence in their ability to negotiate their way in school and in the world. Burke’s teaching approach builds students’ self-confidence and this in turn strengthens students’ ability to learn. Our students know that they are valued for who they are as they work toward becoming who they will be.