Each class generally works at one grade level ahead. For example, Class One students do Saxon 2 Math and are typically reading at a second grade level. Students with above average ability find this pace challenging and rewarding.
These are the years to equip children with the tools to be great readers. The core of our early reading program is our phonics-based system, and we further develop oral language skills through various “language-eliciting” activities such as narration, picture studies, recitation, and reading aloud living books.
Students master math facts and concepts through a balance of instruction, practice, and interaction. Through Nature Studies, the classroom literally becomes a “living classroom” as students and teachers collect specimens for examination. As the class observes, questions, and investigates, students learn the scientific method.
Children are developing long-term patterns of thinking, acting, and interacting during these formative years. We cultivate specific habits such as attentiveness, orderliness, kindness, follow-through – habits which make for good students, good citizens, and good friends.
In the grammar years at Wilberforce, history is read and narrated rather than merely studied. Students read aloud rich stories, and they discover beginning biographies about inspirational men and women from the past. We begin with the exploration and settlement of America, which affords a rich body of literature that is accessible to early readers. Then students begin a cycle of Ancient, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and Modern History, which takes them into Middle School. With timelines and maps in every room, as well as formal geography texts, students learn to place the events and characters of history in context of space and time.
Latin instruction begins in Class Five. The students’ love for memorization and chants makes this an ideal time to learn vocabulary and grammatical forms, which equip them to understand the structure of any language, and open the way for more lengthy translations in later years.
As a classical school, our curriculum highly values the arts. The Fine Arts curriculum balances art and music history and the development of technical skills. The students learn from master works and progress through observation, evaluation, and imitation of these works. Drama is woven throughout the curriculum through in-class plays and presentations drawn from our literature or history readings.
Students develop gross motor skills using a combination of calisthenics, games, and exercises. Group competitions teach sportsmanship while engendering camaraderie. In addition to these lessons, they learn principles of personal wellness and establish patterns to encourage of lifetime of physical health.
Students read through the Bible, both in class and at home, on a four-year schedule, giving them broad familiarity with the whole of Scripture. By learning the “hymn of the month,” students gain rich musical and lyrical history of Christian devotion. Weekly chapels cultivate devotion and biblical thinking.