Amid the lively activity in our Lower School, a vital process begins—the work of learning how to learn. The wonder-filled years of kindergarten through grade four shape attitudes that produce self-confidence and a joyful love of learning, while combined with a play-based model. Our educational experts
—teachers, coordinator of learning support, speech-language pathologist, math specialist, reading specialist, occupational therapists, and a counselor—come together to focus on each child, helping identify challenges and strengths while providing the structure children need to achieve goals.
The Lower School provides the foundation for success in our Middle and Upper Schools. Within the full-day academic program, daily PE, gardening and clubs, we use innovative strategies to ensure academic achievement, including a strong understanding of self-advocacy. We create a Student Learning Profile™ for each child and identify teaching strategies that work best in various subject areas.
In each grade level classroom K-4 we have two teachers. All of our classroom teachers are trained in the Orton Gillingham multisensory approach to reading. We cultivate confident learners by scaffolding a progression of conceptual knowledge and critical thinking skills, including executive functioning. Teachers lead small groups of children with similar learning strengths and needs in reading, language arts, word study, and math, allowing children to progress at their appropriate pace. Learning software and hands-on activities inspires exploration, innovation, and creativity.
This year the Lower School will be enhanced as each homeroom will participate in a new year-long weekly Communications course. We will welcome a Social Work Graduate student from the University of Maryland, who will collaborate with the Lower School Counselor, Sarah Havenstein, to deliver interactive small and whole group lessons. The goal will be to strengthen communication skills and dive into important topics to support the character development of our young children. This addition to our program will further address the social/emotional development of our students, while building a strong sense of school community.
McLean School teachers operate from a firm understanding of Best Practices, such as Orton-Gillingham for direct, multi-sensory instruction in phonics, read-alouds to promote interaction with text and word-consciousness, researched-based Marilyn Burns' Do the Math and John Mighton’s JUMP Math curriculum to develop number sense and a strong conceptual basis for math. This common understanding allows teachers to use their individual creativity and problem-solving skills to design innovative and motivating activities to maximize individual student learning while also providing students with consistent instruction. The Grade 1-4 teachers all utilize The Writing Process and Being a Writer to teach writing. All classroom teachers are writing specialists and incorporate writing into their daily classes across subject areas. The occupational therapists teach handwriting through Handwriting Without Tears, which is a separate class.
Children in the Lower School feel welcomed, supported, and comfortable at school. Students and teachers are committed to maintaining a safe and supportive school environment, and acts of kindness, effort, and citizenship are acknowledged on a daily basis.