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Lower School

Lower Schoolers playing in the block room
Interim Lower School Head Melanie Hutchinson


Collegiate School’s Lower School is a place of wonder, joy, and learning.  A world where excited and wide-eyed kindergarten students become skilled, confident, and curious fourth graders. As the students bounce into school, they are eager to rise to the challenges that will be presented in meaningful and creative ways throughout the day. Our job is not to mold these students, but to inspire them to flourish; we aim to stretch and support each according to his needs. 

Crucial to academic success are the feelings of community, belonging, and safety. Each homeroom is a warm environment where the students are known and  listened to and where social emotional learning is tended to. Students learn to collaborate, be empathetic, and appreciate differences. Community in the Lower School is an essential part of the experience for our students and faculty. Faculty collaborate on divisional and school–wide projects, the fourth graders guide their buddies in kindergarten, small reading groups perform readers’ theater to their excited peers, and third graders invite others to play their scratch games. 

Lower School students are ambitious, capable, and joyful; each is unique and deserves to be part of a purposeful and rich learning community. 

Melanie Hutchinson
Head of Lower School

Why Our Lower School?

Our Lower School encompasses Kindergarten through fourth grade with two homerooms at each grade level and four teachers (one head and one associate) in each room. The teachers work closely together to deliver a rich and engaging curriculum. With the help of reading and math specialists, students regularly work in tailored small groups. Students visit specialist classes for Art, Music, Drama, Library, Science, and Technology. 

Kindergarten and first grade are located on the second floor where classrooms surround a block and play center. This welcoming and contained area is perfect for our youngest students. Our second, third, and fourth grade are on the third floor and classrooms also surround a center with work space, breakout rooms, and a technology hub. 

Just as our boys are learners, so too are the teachers. Working in grade level teams or as a divisional faculty, the curriculum is regularly reviewed and modified. Working with learning specialists allows the teachers to place students' needs at the center of conversations to ensure every boy finds personal success and is prepared for the Middle School experience.

A librarian reading to kindergarten boys

What we offer to students

Our Curriculum

Our rich Lower School curriculum builds from grade to grade in a developmentally appropriate way. Within each grade the teachers make connections across the subjects. Please select the grade you wish to explore. 
Art - K

The students explore a variety of two and three-dimensional media. In drawing and painting, the focus is on composing imagery using lines and shapes. In printmaking and ceramics, the student investigates how texture is created. In sculpture and collage, they learn paper folding and cutting techniques. The students are encouraged to take risks and make new discoveries. 

Library - K

Our library program instills a love of reading, to inspire critical thinking, and to help the students become effective users of ideas and information. Students have one library class per week where stories are read aloud, books are selected, and research skills are taught in conjunction with the classroom curriculum. 

Literacy - K

Our literacy curriculum is scaffolded carefully with appropriate skills for each learner and is infused with wonderful literature and purposeful activities. The boys prepare for reading and writing readiness in a variety of ways. Our phonics program begins with Phonemic awareness (the ability to play with and manipulate sounds in words) and then moves into phonics, which involves matching sounds with letters and creating word families. The Sounds in Motion program supports skill acquisition. Reading workshop is a time for the boys to choose books, practice their skills, and to confer with teachers. Small language arts groups meet regularly so the boys can receive targeted instruction in word work, fluency, and comprehension. The boys learn to communicate through writing by following the writing workshop process. Our genre studies include an all about me piece, family writing projects, three little pigs storytelling, and Donald Crews inspired books.

Mathematics - K

Students engage in mathematical thinking through experimentation, investigation, questioning, and problem solving. Math manipulatives provide concrete and visual reinforcement of math concepts. The students become active problem solvers and use multiple strategies to arrive at solutions. The math activities foster increasing competence in one-to-one correspondence, counting, number sense, simple computation, patterns, measurement, graphs, and geometry. 

Music - K

The boys develop a foundation for music making and appreciation. Through the use of Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze pedagogies, the boys engage in a variety of games, activities, and songs that are experiential in nature. They also learn basic xylophone and percussion techniques. The boys become familiar with solfège hand signs, major and minor tonalities, and the instruments of the orchestra. Music from around the world is introduced through sound-stories.

Physical Education - K

The physical education program provides students with activities that are challenging, imaginative, and age-appropriate. Tapping into the boys’ high energy level, the students are introduced to basic movement patterns. They learn about the relationship among body movement activities, body parts, and the manipulation of objects. Much of the class structure is characterized by problem solving techniques, exploration, choice, and creativity.  

Respect and Responsibility - K

Our respect and responsibility program guides our boys with activities and discussions that help them to develop emotionally and socially and become positive members of a group. 

Students also participate in diversity, equity, and belonging education through which they explore their own identities, and learn to appreciate and value diversity.  Related to this work is a gender and sexuality curriculum. Topics explored in the kindergarten classrooms include: human beings have many different qualities, there is no right or wrong way to be a boy or a girl, each family is unique and there are many different family structures.

Science - K

The boys engage in hands-on, inquiry based science activities which encourage them to view the world scientifically as they make observations, pose questions, collect data, form conclusions, and communicate their findings. The topics investigated include the human body, design and construction, plants, the chicken hatching project, and transportation.

Social Studies - K

Cultural essentials form the backbone of the kindergarten thematic social studies curriculum. The boys investigate the importance of family, shelter, clothing, and transportation to all people. Field trips, guest speakers, neighborhood walks, nonfiction books, literature, primary sources, technology, technology, and weekly classroom projects are among the many resources we use to teach the boys about their world and themselves.

Technology - K

Technology in kindergarten is used thoughtfully and purposefully. The students experience a selection of iPad apps that support and reinforce the classroom curriculum. During the second half of the year, the students are introduced to coding in a technology class. They program robots to navigate mazes and maps while learning foundational coding language.

two students reading a book together in the library
Lower School Highlights

Our Library

Each week students visit the Lower School library where they learn about its operation and about research, while also having the opportunity to browse the collection and comfortably huddle over books with friends.

Lower School students running in the courtyard
Lower School Highlights

Outdoor Activities

Fresh air and exercise are an important part of each day for our youngest learners. Luckily we have a courtyard, a roof deck and a variety of local playgrounds to visit.

a fourth grader and two kindergarteners working on a project
Lower School Highlights


One of the highlights of fourth grade is participation in the Kindergarten Buddy program. This activity pairs fourth graders with our youngest lower school learners; these “buddies” meet regularly to do various activities building strong relationships that last throughout their time at Collegiate.

A student rolling a tire as part of field day
Lower School Highlights

Field Day

One end-of-year celebration is Field Day. The boys participate in a range of physical challenges in mixed age group teams. 

parents visiting a second grade classroom for NYC Day
Lower School Highlights

Class Presentations 

Parents are regularly invited into the classroom to be an audience as the boys proudly demonstrate their learning with end of unit projects and presentations.