LOWER SCHOOL ACADEMICS
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105
Two curricula are used in the Bible program at the Lower School level, Studying God's Word and Christian Liberty Press. One of the primary goals of the Studying God’s Word series is to encourage students to conform their thinking to the standard of God’s revealed Word. It is a source that helps to equip His children with the spiritual weapons they need to fight the good fight of faith
As stated by Christian Liberty Press, “…an emphasis is placed in the need for young people to develop an understanding of basic Bible doctrine. Students are not only presented with important facts and truths from the Bible; they are also provided with a wealth of personal examples from the lives of God’s people that illustrate the truths that they need to comprehend.” Studying God’s Word helps equip students with Biblical truths through helpful Catechism drill and memory work.
Communication and Vocabulary
The Wordly Wise series is an effective vocabulary program that teaches students in a multifaceted process requiring a combination of direct instruction, discussion, and active encouragement of independent learning strategies. The series uses a variety of methods to learn vocabulary by introducing definitional and contextual information about a word, multiple exposures to a word in different contexts, and encourages students to actively participate in vocabulary development.
The Wordly Wise series is used to build vocabulary skills in grades 1-8. The philosophy of Wordly Wise is to utilize words as tools to think, to express ideas and feelings, and to communicate effectively with the world. It is a detailed, research-based program focused upon the importance of direct vocabulary instruction. By improving students’ vocabulary knowledge through teaching new words and concepts, academic achievement is accomplished and the foundation to a rich vocabulary is established for success in reading comprehension.
“Think as well as read….Yield not your minds to the passive impressions which others may make upon them. Hear what they have to say; but examine it, weigh it, and judge for yourselves. This will enable you to make a right use of books—to use them as helpers, not as guides to your understanding; as counselors, not as dictators of what you are to think and believe.” –Tryon Edwards 1809-1894
It is our desire that students at Veritas Christian Academy read books as a source of delight and to gain information and insight in order to become passionate readers. Through reading classical literature the student’s mind is filled with images, stories, and rich vocabulary that encourage our students to be life-long learners. In order to be truly educated, we must read classic literature to ponder the ideas of great minds and to filter those ideas through the lens of the Word of God. Our goal is to enable our students to gain knowledge, and through the thoughtful analysis of that knowledge, to gain understanding, and through the application of understanding, to act in wisdom.
In the Lower School, it is our goal to train our students to write well, utilizing proper grammar and punctuation to express creativity and to clearly articulate ideas. The Shurley Method is a sequentially oriented grammar curriculum which incorporates the use of rhythm, repetition, and student-teacher interaction. Students are active participants as they learn and practice English grammar.
On a daily basis, the students learn the parts of speech, using definitions in jingle form, which are presented within the context of the whole sentence rather than isolated units. In order to understand language usage, students sing or chant jingles that describe the role of each part of speech. Once a concept is introduced, it is repeatedly applied in daily exercises throughout the year. Much of the students’ work is done in a group environment with teacher guidance, and this approach provides immediate feedback to the students. This teaching method employs techniques appropriate for students who learn through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities; therefore, knowledge retention is high.
It is vitally important for students to understand the structure of language in order to become excellent writers. As students master the parts of speech, they develop an ability to build strong sentences and well-constructed paragraphs. Through The Shurley Method and The Institute for Excellence in Writing, finely-crafted essays result as students gain the confidence to creatively express their thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.
The Maps, Charts & Graphs geography workbooks encourage students to explore essential geography topics, such as neighborhoods, communities, the United States, other countries, and the world. Students employ reading and writing skills as they learn to read maps, recognize bodies of water, identify land masses, and become familiar with the physical characteristics of our world.
At Veritas Christian Academy, we have made a commitment to teach history thoroughly and well. We want our students to understand the history of God’s people through the study of His Word and through the study of His actions over time in our world. We begin teaching history in Kindergarten and require students to take four years of history during high school to meet graduation requirements. We have sought to give our students a balanced course of study through the following schedule:
Kindergarten – Third Grade, American History
Fourth Grade, North Carolina History, Eqypt, and Greece
Fifth Grade, Rome, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation
Excerpts from an article written by former Veritas teacher, Shannon Roquemore (1976-2005):
"How ought we to teach history? That depends on what we want history to do for our children. There is the pat answer of knowing past mistakes so that they might not be repeated, but that is still a fleeting, materialistic goal: surely we want our children to learn to be excellent citizens, to understand the past so that they might be educated in the lingo of foreign policy, to be participants in domestic policies that are both ethical and practical. However, none of these goals speak to anything eternal; God does not figure into teaching history for the sake of influencing the present and the future for human advantage. We must find a better reason for teaching history than the paltry agenda of'making the world a better place,' for as Christians we agree that the reason we exist is not only for the benefit of the world. What does history have to say to the man or woman who loves wisdom, seeks righteousness, and lives a life of compassion? What does history have to say to the person who looks for God in the course of human events?...
History becomes a setting in which real human beings once lived, and in the midst of their turmoil they were forced to listen to the whisperings of God to their own souls. It is, after all, in a time of crisis that we are most likely to ask what God wants us to do. The context in which we live our lifetimes is the voice of God, wooing us into a marriage with Him.
We find that history might not be about the leaders, the great men and women we study and place on time-lines, but the common man, not acting, but reacting. That is the moment when God has something to say; when great tragedies are stacked against us, we find ourselves looking for our God... That, Paul explains, is what God was thinking when He wrote history. 'From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.' (Acts 17:26-28)
History is not about human beings coming out on top with the most possible material possessions and the least possible scrapes and bruises. Instead, it is about creating settings in which the common man is pointed inescapably at a God who offers the ultimate peace treaties, in singular stories of men and women who looked at their worlds and cried out for a God who redeems a broken humanity. What we study in history class is a series of backdrops for Grace."
Veritas Christian Academy uses Saxon Math in the Lower School. It is the Saxon philosophy that mathematics instruction should build upon prior learning. In Saxon Math, the students’ mathematical foundations are strengthened by reviewing material from the previous year before progressing on to new concepts. New learning is then presented in increments, with time provided between increments for practice. Mathematical strands are integrated throughout the year rather than taught in isolated units.
Saxon Math is a success-oriented program that enables all children to develop a solid foundation in the language and basic concepts of all areas of mathematics. It utilizes multi-sensory approach to teaching and is designed for heterogeneously grouped children.
The Spalding Method is a multi-sensory structured language-based approach to the learning and use of the English language. Accurate skills in the speaking, writing, spelling, and reading of the English language are taught. Skills are taught first through the written form which contains the logic and consistency of the language. The written form is related to the spoken form. Learning takes place through the combined use of the four sensory channels of hearing, seeing, speaking, and writing. The brain is trained and disciplined to direct the voice and the hand in establishing correct sensory-motor patterns. By teaching these precise techniques in accurate pronunciation of the phonograms and writing words from hearing and saying, the student successfully masters reading, spelling, and writing in the classroom.
The Spalding Method begins in Kindergarten and continues through the fourth grade. Seventy phonograms, forty-five basic sounds, twenty-nine spelling rules, and handwriting techniques are learned and applied through the teacher’s dictation and instruction. After fifty-four phonograms are mastered in written and oral form, the students begin spelling. In the first grade, the student masters one hundred spelling words before being placed in an appropriate reader. In second grade through fifth grade, Spelling Workbook by Modern Curriculum Press is used, and the Spalding Method spelling rules are applied to the words in the workbook.
The Veritas Christian Academy Philosophy states: “Since God’s truth is revealed in the Scriptures as well as all creation, the Christian worldview approach integrates the truth of the Scriptures with learning in all subject matter.” Although Delta Science is a secular curriculum, Veritas teachers are diligent to bring Scripture to bear upon the teaching of science. Science is the study of God’s order and provision observed and revealed in the natural and physical world. " 'The heavens declare the glory of God and the whole earth is full of His glory'. As discerning teachers we should see God’s glory on exhibition everywhere; as responsible images of God we should unveil this glory in our classrooms.” (Mark Fakkema, Christian School Guide, September, 1966)
The goal of our science program is to reveal God as Creator and His creation as awe-inspiring. We endeavor to develop within our students a lively curiosity about God’s world and to give our students the tools needed to investigate His creation.
Delta Science Modules provide structured hands-on activities that successfully engage students in inquiry-based learning in science. With varied hands-on activities and student readers, the program can enable teachers to implement differentiated instructional strategies and encourages the use of multiple intelligences. Students are encouraged to participate in the scientific process as they discover the world that God has created for them to steward and inhabit.
In a classical education, the arts are of great importance. Nowhere is this philosophy evidenced more than in the Lower School music curriculum. Beginning with Kindergarten, music classes meeting twice each week teach the grammar of music, emphasizing music theory and music performance.
The curriculum utilizes rhythm and solfeggio (sight-singing using do-re-mi syllables) as foundational performance skills, while introducing students to works of great composers. In addition, the children learn great hymns of the church and traditional folk music.
Students in grades 3-5 participate in a combined music class once each week. This rehearsal combines ear training practice, sight reading, and choral singing. These students perform for several events throughout the year including the annual Lessons and Carols Christmas Program and Grandparents' Day.
In a classical education, the arts are of great importance. Lower School students participate in art twice each week. Students gain artistic skills through art production classes, utilizing hands-on experience and conceptual discussions. The works of famous artists are analyzed and their distinguishing characteristics are explored. Students create their own "masterpieces" using a variety of techniques, including sculpting, sketching, drawing, and painting.
Our bodies are marvelously created by God, and He gifts each of His children with different talents. It is our goal to help develop the physical talents He gives to each student so that they may glorify Him through games, sports, and competition.
The physical education curriculum challenges students to not only increase their level of fitness and skill, but to also fulfill the natural inclination to compete and expend energy in constructive and acceptable ways. The long term desired outcome is life-long health as well as appreciation for and involvement in sports of their choosing.
The physical education curriculum begins with a focus on movement exploration and perceptual motor development. These concepts and skills are acquired through gross and fine motor challenges through a variety of activities. Activities are designed to increase body awareness, spatial awareness, and control while furthering coordination. Foot-eye and hand-eye coordination is developed through the use of many different pieces of equipment and through stations, obstacle courses, relays, fitness activities, games, and sports. The goal of the program is to make learning fun and to keep students active throughout the class period by working in small groups and by utilizing individual pieces of equipment.
The curriculum for kindergarten through third grade includes excercises to facilitate body awareness, movement exploration, spatial awareness, motor skills, laterality, speeds and body mechanics, foot-eye coordination, and hand-eye coordination. The students also enjoy competing with one another in games, such as soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
In fourth and fifth grades, the students engage in the above activites. In addition, new excercises develop stability, reaction time, and spatial awareness as applied to sports. The students also analyze game strategies and the concept of team participation. Sports introduced include Capture the Flag, volleyball, soccer, hockey, tumbling, basketball, and baseball.