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Lower School
(Grades 1 - 6)

As you walk through the hallways of our Lower School, you’ll find yourself surrounded by students’ work. Their observations, their interpretations, and their opinions, are artfully displayed for all to appreciate.

It’s emblematic: even our youngest children feel recognized at NA. And not only when it’s their turn to be Girl or Boy of the Day—though those times are special moments that strengthen a child’s confidence and leadership abilities.

In small classes taught by attentive teachers, every student has good reason to feel validated and valued.

One of the things I loved in Lower School was the teaching environment. There was no such thing as failure, only potential to improve. Someone once told me, 'The opposite of perfection is not mediocrity, it’s potential.' I feel like this phrase embodies the spirit of the Lower School and has forced me to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and not fear failure.

Sebastian, Class of 2019

Our Approach

Engineering, Design & Innovation

EDI class builds each student’s strength as an innovative thinker, problem-solver, and thoughtful collaborator. Projects build in complexity as students progress through the course from first grade to sixth grade. While students begin by building dog beds and bridges, they develop the skills required for more challenging projects, such as creating aqueducts, programming robots, and building aerodynamic rockets.

Understanding History

Our program for teaching history brings innovation to exploration of the Ancient World to modern America. Latin begins in third grade with a curriculum designed to build an understanding of the culture of antiquity and expand vocabulary through learning the Latin roots of everyday words. By sixth grade, students take Latin class daily. History classes develop an interest in cultures around the globe, while fostering a depth of understanding of American democracy.

Learning through Projects

Students learn best when they are given the chance to have a voice in shaping their own learning. An abundance of projects in all grades allows students to take a deep dive into a topic, explore it through research and active questioning, and create a final product that reflects their original perspective.

Love of Reading & Writing

A love of reading allows students to flourish as independent learners and thinkers. Teachers cultivate that passion through a structured program to teach reading in the earliest grades and frequent visits to the Lower School library, where students find that their reading tastes are well-known to the librarians. The library’s General Story is a one-of-a kind place for fueling creativity in storytelling and poetry. Class projects throughout the year build capacity in analytical and creative writing.

Community Engagement

Our youngest students learn about turning kindness and empathy into action through grade level service projects and by efforts undertaken by the entire Lower School, led by the Student Council. 

Health and Wellness

We guide our students in developing a sense of optimism and resilience through learning healthy habits in their earliest years. We believe that every aspect of our program helps children develop maturity of mind, body, and character. One hallmark of our program is a daily P.E. period, in addition to recess. Our guidance program offers lessons on building strong friendships, using technology wisely, nutrition, and much more.

 

We actually got to publish our own story this year which was so cool because everyone in the library was able to read it and it made me feel proud of what I wrote.

Ella '26

A Day in the Lower School

Handshakes

Handshakes

Throughout Lower School, teachers greet students in the morning and bid them goodbye at day’s end with a friendly, thoughtful clasp of the hand.

 

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Person of the Day

Person of the Day

Throughout the Lower School years, students participate in taking a leadership role in the classroom. As “Boy-of-the Day” or “Girl-of-the-Day,” each student begins the academic day by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, offering a prayer of his/her choice, and presenting a short report or project, often tied to the curriculum. Students rotate through the roster repeatedly, so each student has multiple opportunities each year to lead and gain confidence.

 

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P.E. Every Day!

Physical Education Every Day (and swimming!)

Starting in first grade, when students participate in daily physical education which includes on campus swimming instruction, children form habits of regular physical exercise and healthfulness. They gain skills, stamina, and the many other benefits of physical activity.

Reading in Small Groups

Reading in Small Groups

Reading is at the heart of learning, so we make sure that each student receives consistent encouragement and close attention to progress. Classes divide into smaller  groups for reading instruction, an approach that allows students to gain confidence and advance more rapidly.  

 

Resources

Resources Classes

Resource classes in the Lower School allow students to explore and experiment outside of their homerooms. Students in grades 1-6 go to a “resource” each day: art, music, library, guidance and computer. Fourth and fifth graders take Latin as a sixth resource class.

 

Lunch

Lunch

It’s not just a meal at Norfolk Academy. Our approach reflects our emphasis on teaching service to others. At our family-style meals in the Lower School, fifth and sixth graders serve as “waiters”— helping younger students make sandwiches and open milk cartons or bringing them selections from an array of deli offerings. Faculty members sit at the tables, not only to supervise but also to share in swapping stories about the school day.

Math: A Focus on Problem Solving

Math: A Focus on Problem-Solving

Our Singapore-style math program focuses on building mastery. Students aren’t just interested in finding the answers, they gain an interest in understanding how and why an equation works. The program builds fundamental skills in addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, and uses an array of hands-on activities to cultivate an active interest in math and its role in many fields of inquiry.

 

Fine Arts

Adventures in the Arts

The Lower School program spurs imagination and creative expression in the arts. In addition to resource classes in art and music for grades 1-6, class plays help develop confidence in public speaking. Students may take instrumental lessons, leading to participation in band, orchestra, and chorus. The school’s popular dance program gives energetic youngsters a chance to channel it into active, artistic expression; an array of dance styles are offered, all of which take advantage of students’ natural curiosity, flexibility, and exuberance.

 

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Clubs & Activities

Clubs and Activities

All Lower School students are offered the opportunity to participate in dance, private music instruction and after-school enrichment opportunities such as theater, public speaking, sports clinics, and robotics. Fifth and sixth grades have the opportunity to be part of the Bulldog Bytes team (Lower School weekly news show) as well as clubs such as chess, film, and the teacher aid program.

 

 

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Recess

Get out and play every day!

Recess in an important time in every Lower School student’s day. Every grade in the Lower School has daily recess, a time when students organize their own games, socialize, and take a break.

 

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