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Lower School (K-5)


Let us respect childhood; let us honor the soul of these small creatures of God who can already make choices of the best if we take the time to awaken their reason and make them use their judgment.
Beginning in kindergarten, learning is an active process for all our Lower School students. Learners by nature, curious about their world, and eager for accomplishment, students are given the opportunity to explore the world and their place in it.

In GR 1-5, students study core subjects with their primary grade teaching team, while specialists enrich the learning and development of their young pupils in other areas, such as music, arts, and the creativity hub. The overall GR 1-5 curriculum focuses on foundational skills in language arts and mathematics. Reading instruction is carefully tailored to the level of each child to ensure that every student progresses steadily in both the mechanics of reading and reading comprehension. 

Kindergarten Curriculum

List of 2 items.

  • Foundational Academics

    Designed in collaboration with our Kindergarten and early elementary grade teaching teams, the Kindergarten's academic program employs proven, research-based programs - Writers Workshop, Guided Reading, and Math In Focus - which provide a solid foundation in core subjects, continued at the higher grade levels. Rounding out the curriculum are age-appropriate religion and global studies programs, as well as weekly PE, unstructured outdoor play, movement, and other enrichment activities in STEM, arts, and music.

  • Responsive Classroom

    Kindergarten faculty are trained in Responsive Classroom practices, which combine social and academic learning throughout the day. Elements of this practice include delivering interactive lessons, and teacher language that gives students meaningful choices and sets high expectations and a positive tone for learning.

    Combined with the core curriculum, these programs provide both an introduction and solid foundation to the academic and social emotional learning that will continue as they progress through the elementary grades.

GR 1-5 Curriculum

List of 8 items.

  • Language Arts

    GRADES 1-3
    The primary focus of our language arts program is to take the emerging reader and build a confident, fluent, independent reader. Our reading program places a strong emphasis on phonics as a fundamental skill and promotes comprehension for reading mastery. Students work in small reading groups to focus on reading comprehension skills such as summarizing, interpreting and analyzing text, comparing and contrasting, cause and effect, and literal and inferential comprehension.  The joy of reading as a lifelong activity is emphasized.

    In writing, students learn to form letters correctly, as well as learn to write in complete sentences. We begin our writing journey by creating simple short sentences and end by writing wonderful stories and publishing individual research.  Students progress through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions, and publishing). Students are taught to read and write in different genres: Expository, Persuasive, Descriptive, Narrative, and Creative Writing. Students are assessed regularly through classroom observations and benchmark assessments to ensure that grade level expectations and individual needs are being met.

    GRADES 4-5
    In the language arts curriculum for grades 4 and 5, students work to develop clear, organized, and creative writing pieces. The students expand their writing skills in the areas of paragraph development, letter, report, essay, and creative writing. Much of our class time is spent on the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions, and publishing). Ongoing development of capitalization, punctuation, grammar usage, and sentence structure are also areas of focus. Continued work is done on expanding vocabulary, increasing accuracy in spelling, and improving proofreading skills.

    Students continue work on oral reading skills, reading comprehension and reasoning skills, reading rate, and fluency through a wide variety of literature. Language Arts units are built around novel sets and other strong literature selections. Balanced literacy experiences are provided for all students. Reading comprehension strategies are emphasized and students are encouraged to look at literature critically. Vocabulary development is also a key component of our program. Students are encouraged to continue to increase their volume of independent reading, their appreciation for fine literature, and their enjoyment of reading.
  • Mathematics

    Our Lower School mathematics program, Math In Focus, is based on the Singapore method of instruction. Students focus on solidifying their understanding of numbers and their relationships through a concept mastery framework. Students gain a deep understanding of how and why math works through a concrete-to-pictorial-to-abstract approach, metacognitive reasoning, and the use of bar models. In this program, students are taught fewer concepts in greater depth in order to develop a solid conceptual foundation for problem solving.

    GRADES 1-3
    Our first through third grade program places a strong emphasis on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, measurement, geometry, problem solving strategies, and graphing and analyzing data. Students are trained to think flexibly and to apply their understanding to real-life situations.

    GRADES 4-5
    Our fourth and fifth grade program places a strong emphasis on expanding their understanding of place value, fractions, decimals, percent, solving complex word problems, measurement of angles, and applying formulas to solve problems. Students are trained to think flexibly and to apply their understanding to real-life situations.
  • Science

    GRADES 1-3
    Students are exposed to Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science by exploring through FOSS kits, developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. Our curriculum offers real hands-on opportunities and experiments that enable students to develop a deeper understanding of science concepts and skills.Students are exposed to a variety of units including Magnets, Life Cycles, Solids and Liquids, Motion and Matter, and Sound and Light.These units allow students to learn both content and process in our science lab and our classrooms.Throughout our science program, the focus remains to think like a scientist and to explore with hands-on opportunities.

    GRADES 4-5
    Students are exposed to Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science by exploring through the Amplify Science program, developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. Importantly, our curriculum offers multiple hands-on opportunities and experiments that the students really enjoy.

    In fourth and fifth grade students are exposed to a variety of topics, such as Energy Conversions, Vision and Light, Earth's Features, Modeling Matter, Ecosystem Restoration. Science instruction focuses on developing deep content knowledge, while challenging students to put knowledge in action in the lab.

    In addition to the Amplify curriculum, students in grade 5 will also take part in an annual  "Invention Convention," in which each designs, develops, and prototypes a mechanic solution for greater good.
  • Social Studies

    GRADES 1-3
    First through third grade students focus on gaining a deeper understanding of their local community and their country. As they explore the past and the present, they learn to think critically about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Students participate in field trips, conduct research, and engage in a wide variety of activities and projects to further their understanding of social studies concepts.

    Students learn how they can be heroes and leaders by studying people who make a difference. They examine geography and map skills and develop a basic understanding of economy. Students are also given the opportunity to explore the varied backgrounds of American citizens and American symbols and icons.

    GRADE 4
    The main focus for students in fourth grade social studies is California. The students learn about the geography of California and Mexico. They focus on the Native Americans who settled in California, the Missions of California, the California Gold Rush, and Post Gold Rush California. Students learn about the rich history of the state in which they live. Other topics of instruction are Early Explorers, Periods of Spanish and Mexican Rule, and the Transcontinental Railroad. Students also study geographic concepts such as climate and resources. Map skills are also reviewed while studying California. Students enjoy learning all about the history and development of the state they call home.

    GRADE 5
    Understanding other cultures, in order to gain an appreciation for the diversity and similarity of lives in all cultures, is the focus of the fifth grade social studies curriculum. Students gain a clearer perspective on the views, lifestyles, and customs of other past and present cultures and how those cultures have formed present culture. In this course students study US History. Other topics of study include Geography, Europeans in the New World, Routes of Exploration to the New World, Early English Settlement, Comparing Colonies, Slavery, Growing Tension between the Colonies and Britain, Patriots vs. Loyalists, and causes of the Revolutionary War. This course requires students to think critically and analyze various events in US History.
  • Religion

    GRADES 1-5
    First through fifth grade religious instruction teaches the Roman Catholic faith as articulated and lived by the Society of the Sacred Heart. In addition to learning about fundamental doctrines appropriate for the ages of the students, students also learn about the importance of personal and communal prayer and begin to explore the contributions of the world's major faith traditions. Throughout, students engage in thoughtful activities that help them understand and explore spirituality and the spiritual life.

    Faith-in-action is an important companion to our religious studies curriculum at the GR 1-5 level, and students take part in multiple community service efforts that encourage individual investment and reflection. For each year in GR 1-8, planned service activity follows a designated theme, which enables concentrated discussion, guided reflection, and age-appropriate understanding of the importance of actively living our values.
  • Fine Arts


    GRADES 1-3
    In first through third grade, our goal is to develop students' understanding and enjoyment of art, craft, and design. Primary students will learn the rudimentary use of artist tools and techniques to explore art in two and three dimensions. They will develop knowledge and explore self-expression through sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, and textiles. While historical artists help us to appreciate art, first through third grade will also be inspired by their everyday life. To culminate the year students showcase works of art and educate our community about their innovations during their Informances.
    GRADES 4-5
    In the art studio, students are actively immersed in the wonderful world of art all year long. Fourth and fifth grade students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of art, craft, and design. Students enhance their knowledge and continue to explore their creativity through printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, painting, and textiles. Students develop their visual literacy through on-going discussions about their own work and that of others. Throughout the year students will develop their imagination and strengthen their skills of observation. Student’s wonderful creations are exhibited around campus and are showcased during our yearly art show.


    GRADES 1-3
    Through drama, primary students develop a sense of self while learning to work collaboratively with others. Special emphasis is placed on skills that promote the development of creativity, self-esteem, and cooperative learning through creative dramatics, puppets, movement, world theatre, and performance units. 

    GRADES 4-5
    Intermediate drama students continue working on the theatre skills learned in the primary grades. Students use playwriting, devising and cooperative group work to create their own performances. Special emphasis is placed on cooperative play-devising, performance skills including improvisation and character work, and production analysis. Each grade creates an original production that is based on a cross-curricular topic: social studies, science, religion, and/or literature.


    GRADES 1-3
    Students in grades one through three explore music as both the listener and the performer. An awareness and appreciation as the audience is fostered both through listening to musical selections, and by discovering musical elements (e.g., meter, form, tone, range, and dynamics) in songs. Development of specific performing skills enables the students to create artistic offerings themselves. Typically, students will perform in 1-2 "choral showcases" at these grade levels. 

    The purpose of the choral and instrumental ensembles at Sacred Heart Lower School is to expose students to ensemble music in a manner that is, most importantly, fun and exciting using state and national music education standards to drive instruction. Band, Chorus, and Strings students perform a diverse multitude of musical literature at various concerts throughout the year. The ultimate goal of these performance groups is to foster a love and appreciation for the arts and a lifelong love of learning.
  • Physical Education

    GRADES 1-3
    The goal of the SHS Primary Physical Education program is to help our students develop the knowledge and skill base necessary for participation in health-enhancing physical activity for a lifetime. Our program is intended to provide developmentally appropriate activities which are reflective of the national physical education standards for grades 1-3. Each week, students have 40 minutes of well-organized physical education three days a week, in addition to recess and unstructured playtime.

    GRADES 4-5
    The fourth and fifth grade physical education curriculum introduces students to a variety sports which include soccer, basketball, flag football, softball, baseball, volleyball, and tennis. The students learn the skills, rules, and strategies of these sports and various fitness activities. Students participate in an aquatics program. In the fall the students learn swimming skills and in the spring the students learn water polo skills. The students also participate in a year round track program and learn proper running form and pacing for short and long distance runs. Students are taught the importance of participation, effort, being prepared for class, and sportsmanship.
  • Creativity Hub

    Students in GR 1-5 have intermittent opportunity, or a course rotation, in the Creativity Hub, our design lab and makerspace adjacent to Stevens Library. Guided by dedicated Hub faculty, students design and fabricate, practice problem-solving, and craft solutions collaboratively and independently as they bring creative projects to life.

K-5 Academic Administrators

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Francesca Brake

    Francesca Brake 

    Principal - P-8
  • Photo of Kyle Kalmbach

    Kyle Kalmbach 

    Assistant Principal of Academics - P-8
  • Photo of Myra Syed

    Myra Syed 

    Director of Curriculum & Instruction - LS

Sacred Heart Schools Atherton

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton

150 Valparaiso Ave
Atherton, CA 94027
650 322 1866
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12