Lower School

Every student is an individual at Nantucket New School and is celebrated for unique strengths and talents.  It is a place where making mistakes is okay and learning from them is applauded.

To motivate children to their highest levels, we must be rigorous yet nurturing, always challenging, but with respect for different ways of learning, forever encouraging and tirelessly supportive.  It is well known that children need and enjoy a healthy balance of work, play and physical activity throughout each day.

As is true with any excellent school, the lower school at Nantucket New School is a place where children love to learn. We believe that parents are our partners as we set the foundation for a lifetime of learning and try to balance all the demands of the 21st century. We consider the findings from research on brain development as we create a contemporary curriculum that includes social /emotional development along with strong cognitive and academic skills.

Our children learn to play together, create projects in teams, and study alone or with partners. They also learn to respect each other’s space and property. With the Mind-Up curriculum children have daily opportunities to practice mindfulness which helps them learn to focus. Additionally, Brain Gym provides research based exercise and movement breaks throughout the day to help with brain development. This means that core learning takes place in a gentle community of learners.

Our math curriculum uses the dynamic Republic of Singapore which is well known for its position as a world leader in the teaching of mathematics. Children begin the formal study of math in the Kindergarten and move through a program that is both cyclical and linear as skills are taught, assessed, reviewed, and expanded. As each new concept is presented students begin with a concrete activity, move to a pictorial problems and finally express the concept abstractly as an expression or equation. With the completion of the program in the sixth grade students are ready and positioned well for algebra.

Our literacy program includes the basic reading skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Children enjoy doing author studies as they progress from “learning to read,” to “reading to learn.”  In our small library, enhanced with books from the Nantucket Atheneum and other CLAMS libraries, children learn to use an electronic card catalogue and check out their books electronically. Teachers often include models from literature as they conduct writers’ workshops in the classroom. These activities often culminate with a much anticipated authors’ tea where children read their work to their parents in a formalized setting.

Projects, games, and theatre provide the basis for our science and social studies curriculum. From the seeds in the earth to the stars in the sky children learn to investigate, explore, and present their findings.  Whether it be a trip to the Linda Loring Nature Foundation, a visit to Plimoth Plantation or an overnight at the Whaling museum, children enjoy interacting with our local community as they learn to appreciate their own rich cultural heritage.

In an era where technology pervades all that we do, formal introduction to technology begins in the fourth grade with the study of key boarding, word processing, and presentation software. We also address the ethical and social aspects of intellectual property and social media as we promote good digital citizenship.

The natural creativity of childhood blossoms in art and music classes under the guidance of true professionals in their fields. Parents and friends can look forward to two musical performances a year, a music recital, and an art show at the Artists’ Association of Nantucket.

Because we know that a strong body helps build a strong mind, our children enjoy a physical education curriculum that includes physical development, team-building, and good sportsmanship with professionals from the Strong Wings Adventure School. On the playing field students learn to lead and to follow, to share and to listen, and to enjoy healthy competition in the spirit of community.

In a word, in the lower school children grow and learn and love where they are in turn protected, kept safe, and nurtured.