Lower School

We believe strongly in the great benefit to young children of learning in single-sex environments.

Welcome to Lower School

The Lower School at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is a supportive and vibrant community for boys and girls in grades Pre K to Grade 4. We believe strongly in the great benefit to young children of learning in single-sex environments. At SCH, children learn in a space free from gender stereotypes. Through the combination of this setting and our rich and rigorous curriculum, children have the opportunity to develop an understanding of their strengths and affinities, the courage to try new things, and the resilience to try again.

Our fantastic teachers are the heart of our Lower School. In every classroom, it is a priority to know each student’s strengths, interests, and areas for growth. Our students feel cared for and connected through their strong relationships with their teachers. As a result, they are able to be consistently challenged in their work and supported in their relationships.

We also believe in the importance of a deep connection with the natural world and the importance of play for children. The Lower School, housed in the breathtaking, state-of-the-art McCausland Lower School, offers our students an unparalleled experience to easily access Wissahickon for exploration, observation, and content-focused work. 

I invite you to visit! 

Douglas Wainwright
Head of Lower School

Our Program

List of 12 items.

  • Art

    In Lower School, our students sculpt, paint, draw, weave, cut, paste, construct, and—most importantly—imagine. Our teaching is grounded in the four fundamentals of art education: aesthetic perception, creative expression, art heritage, and informed judgment. Through their studio experiences, students learn to use their senses, knowledge, and feelings to find beauty and meaning in their environment and in works of art. They explore art in a variety of media and learn to develop and apply design concepts to expressive and imaginative themes. They learn the processes of perceiving, analyzing, interpreting, and judging their own and others’ art.
  • Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

    In Lower School, all students participate in CEL projects each year. In partnership with CEL faculty, our teachers design authentic experiences for young children in which they identify a need in our school or local community. From there, students are guided to gather data and develop ideas for solutions. Critical components of Lower School CEL projects include developing empathy for others, effectively communicating with teammates, and incorporating elements of new media or financial literacy into their projects.
  • Chinese

    The Lower School Mandarin Chinese program introduces students to the culture and language of China. Students become familiar with the tonal sound system and, because they are young, begin to reproduce tones readily. As they progress through the program, they learn sentence patterns and to recognize and write simple characters.
  • Language Arts

    Our language arts program offers a diverse curriculum that capitalizes on and expands students’ interests. Students are immersed in a print-rich environment where they engage with a range of increasingly complex, high-quality literature and informational texts. Our reading program meets each student where he or she is and offers targeted instruction to further develop skilled and fluent readers. The writing program emphasizes constructing pieces in a variety of different genres and learning how to edit, make revisions, and publish work. The fundamentals of handwriting, spelling, and developmentally-appropriate grammatical concepts are also taught.
  • Math

    The mathematics program at SCH Academy aims to develop students’ understanding of our number system, problem-solving skills, and logical thinking. At all ages, this is accomplished by applying skills and concepts to real-life applications as much as possible. In Lower School, we use the Math in Focus curriculum to provide a comprehensive and rigorous mathematical experience for students. Concepts are first introduced concretely with manipulatives, then drawn or represented pictorially, and finally represented abstractly with numbers and algorithms. This process allows for deep understanding of content and procedures. Our math curriculum also offers opportunities for interested students to pursue additional challenge through Continental Math and Math Olympiad.
  • Music

    The music program incorporates elements of music theory, history, choral singing, and playing with both pitched and unpitched instruments. With a varied and active approach to music learning, safe, positive risk-taking is also fostered as we seek to develop students’ independent musicianship and performance experience. Students are introduced to large-group choral singing and the opportunity to perform publicly.
  • Outdoor Program

    Lower School students develop an appreciation for the natural world and build confidence through a variety of outdoor experiences on our campus and trips to local areas of interest. Beginning in Pre-K, students engage in Outdoor Program experiences every year of Lower School. The neighboring Wissahickon is a primary area for our Outdoor Program. As students progress through their lower school years, they participate in the highly anticipated Bike Hikes and Campouts.
  • Physical Education

    The Physical Education Department believes that all of our students should be exposed to a healthy lifestyle that encourages daily physical activity and healthy eating. Our comprehensive curriculum provides students the opportunity to develop body awareness, explore movement, discover cooperative games, improve sport-specific skills, and experience team sports. We value the team experience and the life skills one develops while being a team member. Through these activities, students learn how to have fun, to win and lose, to show good sportsmanship, and to develop discipline and responsibility. Our physical education program supports the development of a well-balanced individual by providing the opportunity to develop not only physically, but also socially, emotionally, and mentally.
  • Science

    Students in every grade are offered challenging and exciting learning experiences that help them develop the skills of scientific inquiry and an understanding of the laws, systems, and structures that define our natural world. Classes provide students with opportunities to use the most up-to-date equipment and technologies as they ask questions, design experiments, explore, collaborate, and become efficient and effective problem solvers. Our interdisciplinary curriculum integrates engineering principles in meaningful and relevant ways and asks students to quantify their work using appropriate mathematical and statistical tools. Students also often use the arts and new media to model their work or creatively and richly display what they have synthesized.
  • Social Studies

    Building on the curiosity, sociability, adventurous spirit, and abundant energy of young students, the social studies curriculum allows students to develop an understanding of themselves, their communities, and the experiences of others locally and around the world, both present day and from significant historical periods. Social studies instruction is largely project-based and inquiry-driven and involves hands-on collaborative learning as well as age-appropriate research. 
  • Social-Emotional Learning

    SCH employs a variety of research-based programs in the design of our Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum. Through intentional lessons and daily work around Social-Emotional topics, students build their ability to recognize and name their emotions, navigate peer conflict, and regulate themselves in their environment.
  • Technology

    In Lower School, we believe that students should purposely use technology to enhance their work through meaningful creation of content and personalized learning experiences. Students are supported in this through our 1:1 iPad program, which allows students to easily and readily access a familiar device. Our extensive resources in our Maker Space and school-wide allow students to have the opportunity to see what’s possible with current technology. As a result, many of the projects at school incorporate sophisticated elements of New Media skills and materials. In addition, we know that we have a responsibility to support children to become healthy and knowledgeable consumers of digital information. Beginning in Pre-K, we have a Digital Citizenship curriculum that supports students in this work.

Did You Know?

  • Lower School students keep boots in their cubbies to enjoy the Wissahickon Valley right outside their classroom door!

  • Boys and girls actively coordinate food, mitten, book, and clothing drives to serve members of the community.

  • Lower School students design, iterate, and build with New Media tools in our Maker Space.
  • Lower School girls dive deeply into a piece of literature, selected by the faculty, and spend three days in activities connecting across grade levels.

  • Lower School boys explore poetry during April (poetry month) and distribute "Poem in Your Pocket" boxes for patrons of local stores.

  • 4th grade girls take turns writing, editing, producing, and serving as “on-air personalities” for a weekly news broadcast about Lower School.

  • 4th grade boys research items to make, market, and sell at their annual Market Day.