Network of Sacred Heart Schools
Lower & Middle Schools

Lower School Curriculum

Learning is an active process for students in grades 1-5. Learners by nature, curious about their world, and eager for accomplishment, Lower School students are given the opportunity to explore the world and their place in it.

Students study core subjects with their homeroom teachers, while specialists enrich the learning and development of their young pupils in other academic areas. The Lower School curriculum stresses the acquisition of 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. 

List of 9 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
    Students in fourth and fifth grade are taught writing by a designated writing instructor. 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 our students to develop a deeper understanding of science concepts and skills. First through third grade students are exposed to a variety of units including recycling, magnets, and life cycles.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 in fourth and fifth grade are taught by a designated science instructor and visit the science lab on a weekly basis. 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 the students really enjoy.

    In fourth and fifth grade students are exposed to a variety of topics including Oceans and Bodies of Water, Electricity and Magnetism, Mixtures and Solutions, and Living Systems. Our science instructor focuses on student developing deep content knowledge, while our lab instructor challenges students to put their knowledge in action.
  • 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. Students are engaged in thoughtful activities that help them develop an appreciation for the faith they were given by their parents and the faith that some of their classmates and friends profess. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) classes are taught in conjunction with our religion program. Some key components of the SEL program are conflict management, I-statements, self-regulation, empathy, emotion identification, and collaboration.. Our program encourages students to explore and develop as spiritual beings.
  • World Languages

    GRADES 4-5
    World Language options in fourth and fifth grades are Mandarin, Spanish, French, and Latin. Instruction is child-centered and communication-based, with much class time spent on oral and writing activities, which reflect experiences that the students might encounter at home or in school. The students continue to understand that a world language is a means of communication. Much more focus is placed on proper pronunciation and ability to read and write simple sentences, with the intention of communicating simple ideas along with applying these skills in conversation. Asking and responding in the target language continues to play a key role. These courses are designed as exploratory classes in which students meet twice a week for 40 minutes. Students will learn about the cultures, language, and communities of the people within their world language of choice.

    Students studying Latin use a speaking and listening approach in acquiring and using the Latin language. Students learn about ancient Roman culture through thematic units, Latin dialogues, Latin mottoes, and English derivatives. Students continue to expand their English vocabulary through a study of Latin roots and affixes and to recognize Latin words, phrases, and abbreviations in English. They begin to recognize the influence of the classical heritage, promoting an interest in the study of the classics and humanities.

    Students in both modern and classical languages will attain a degree of proficiency in the areas of comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing that will prepare them for the more formal language study which will begin in Middle School.
  • 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. Students in grades 1-3 share their drama skills with their families through our “Informance” program, where families have the opportunity to experience a typical day in a drama class.

    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. Students put on two work showcases at these grade level. The Christmas performance serves as a religious and community building event, while the second “Informance” provides our families with the opportunity to spend a day enjoying our Fine Arts program as a student. Families rotate through our art, music, and drama classes and learn what typical day is like for their child.

    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. At SHS, we are fortunate to be able to offer 40 minutes of well-organized physical education four 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 graded on participation, effort, being prepared for class, and sportsmanship.
  • Exploration

    GRADES 1-3
    Our first through third grade students spend one period a week “exploring” mini units of study. Students are exposed to topics including yoga, multicultural dance, creative art, nutrition, and work in our school garden and farm. Through this program, teachers have the opportunity to share their individual gift and talents with their students, while exposing them to a wide range of learning modules.


List of 2 members.

Where Scholarship and Values Matter
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12