Kindergarten – 4th Grade
Our lower school curriculum is balanced and integrated. Our purpose is to provide a nurturing environment where learning takes center stage, and where students become confident thinkers, leaders, citizens, and friends. As students progress toward middle school, they assume increasing responsibility for their learning as the interdisciplinary curriculum challenges and engages them in the world around them.
- One class per grade
- Small class size
- School day 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Below you will find an overview of each subject in lower school. For a detailed description by grade, please download our curriculum guide.
The goal of the lower school language arts program at The Girls’ School is to create confident life-long readers, writers, and communicators. The lower school curriculum uses all genres of literature to inspire and encourage emerging readers. Spelling and grammar skills are reinforced through daily practice and the Writers’ Workshop process. Print writing, with emphasis on correct letter formation and pencil grip, lays the foundation for the transition to cursive writing in third grade. Studies include letter writing, creative writing, research projects, phonics, spelling, keyboarding and grammar skills.
Mathematics instruction in the lower school uses manipulatives, games, practical applications and interdisciplinary projects to promote understanding and flexibility in problem solving. Students work in groups and independently to build numeracy and problem solving skills. By third grade, students participate in math competitions starting with Math Pentathlon and Math Olympiad. The Everyday Math Curriculum is supplemented with read-alouds, hands on investigations, and other materials. Topics include: ordering, addition, subtraction, comparing, place value, measurement, geometry, classification, fractions, money, time, measurement, graphing, basic facts, logical reasoning, decimals, applied math concepts, and probability.
Beginning in kindergarten our social studies curriculum introduces girls to their immediate community and their larger global community. An interdisciplinary approach is used to combine history and geography to language arts and science in research projects. Field trips to local organizations, museums, and government are an integral part of our social studies curriculum. Topics include: US history & geography, influential females, African American history, Native Americans, community diversity, economics, government, world geography, Texas history, world geography and current events.
The science program at The Girls’ School encourages our students’ natural curiosity about the world around them. “Place-based” and interdisciplinary activities develop research and inquiry skills and complement their studies in mathematics and social studies/humanities. Observations and investigations drive hands-on learning. The sustainable features and native plants of our campus as well as field trips enrich the science curriculum. Topics include: life cycles, ecosystems, habitats, migration, climate, states of matter, astronomy, electricity, chemical reactions, nutrients, decomposition, buoyancy and density.
In the lower school, our primary goal is to instill comfort with speaking Spanish. We use a range of activities to ensure that each student is engaged with appropriate linguistic concepts and vocabulary. Students will begin to acquire the language naturally and easily using a variety of research-based methods. We use songs, skits, games, activities, literature, and art projects to give students comprehensible input in fun and practical environment. We incorporate basic geography and cultural context for the language and cover holidays and foods of the Spanish-speaking world. K-2 Spanish at GSA is taught by the Mariposas Spanish School.
The GSA art curriculum is designed to develop each girl’s individual creativity and self-expression through a well-rounded study of art. Students are exposed to a wide variety of art forms and mediums, which are introduced in an historical context and exemplified in the work of notable artists. Artistic mediums/processes covered during the year include pastels, drawing, grayscale, acrylic painting on canvas, printmaking, pen & ink, and clay. By exploring, learning about, and creating art, students engage in a process of personal growth and self-expression, and develop another perspective from which to appreciate their own culture and that of others.
Music lessons – either strings or piano – start in kindergarten and classes are held three times a week. Studies culminate in semi- annual concerts.
Lower School Strings
The lower school strings curriculum is based on several important early musical techniques. After the initial two years on the violin, students may move to another string instrument including the viola, cello and double bass. Second and third grades focus on ensemble, note-reading and beginning improvisation.
The piano program is individualized and developed to build applied skills in notation reading, posture, and expression. Composition and multi-media projects are designed to improve students’ musical and creative ability and increase comfort level with experimentation, musical exploration, and performance.
PE & Health
The GSA embraces a holistic approach to health and wellness education, engaging the mind as well as the body. Wellness is not only taught in theory, it is applied to situations as they arise. Beginning in kindergarten, girls work on tossing, throwing, catching, dribbling rhythms, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, locomotor skills, and flexibility. These skills and capacities are developed through yoga, games, dance and team sports.
Our Service Learning Program connects our students to the wider Austin community where they work develop the knowledge and skills to become capable and responsible participants in the world. Each grade participates in at least one partnership with a local not-for-profit organization or charity where they have hands on experience supporting that organization. Recent local partnerships for lower school include, The Audubon Society, Book Spring, Urban Roots Farm, AGE of Central Texas, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.