Lower School (Grades K-4)

Time to Connect the Dots

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  • Teaching Across Disciplines Sharpens Critical Thinking Skills

In Lower School, girls learn to take intellectual risks, ask questions, and challenge themselves to come up with creative solutions to problems. Engaging academics build confidence and character, from kindergarten through fourth grade. After a lesson is presented to the class, small group instruction allows for individualized attention and enrichment according to each girl’s needs and interests.

Teachers work closely to make connections across the curriculum, weaving common themes through various disciplines so girls learn to appreciate issues from various vantage points. The study of butterfly migration in science leads to a study of Mexico, an excursion to the campus farm, related reading and writing exercises in language arts, and creative expression of butterflies in art and dance form.

Cultivating Resilient Learners

A supportive all-girl learning environment encourages girls to take risks without fear of failure. Working with partners or in groups, they have plenty of opportunity to evaluate what didn’t work and try again. By the time girls progress to Middle School, they are confident in their abilities, understanding that perseverance helps them grow.

Como te va el experimento?

Oral proficiency is a priority in our award-winning lower school world languages program so our classroom focus is on oral communication. The vocabulary we teach in our Spanish and Chinese classes is based on concrete concepts taught in science. Research indicates this approach makes the new language more memorable and relevant for students. Our world language and science teachers regularly coordinate their lesson plans.


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  • Language Arts

    The Language Arts block, starting in kindergarten and going through fourth grade, is literature-based and closely integrated with science and social studies. Components of the program consist of word study, reading, writing, listening and speaking. The program is individualized to allow for various learning styles. Reading comprehension skills and decoding strategies are emphasized through guided reading and independent practice. Through Reading and Writing Workshop, girls learn to make meaningful connections to literature. The workshop model consists of mini-lessons, teacher modeling, independent student work and small group instruction. In third and fourth grade Reading Workshop allows girls to develop as readers by making independent choices of books and by participating in literature circles and book clubs.

    Writing Workshop is designed for use in all grade levels. The girls are given opportunities to write in a variety of genres. Each grade level has specific units of study tailored to meet developmental and curricular needs. The teacher acts as a mentor author, modeling writing techniques and conferring with students as they move through the writing process.

    Through the workshop model, the girls learn to become independent readers and writers as early as kindergarten.
  • Mathematics

    The lower school math curriculum, Everyday Math, emphasizes the building of concepts, the development of competence in fundamental skills, and the application of a variety of thinking strategies. The research-based program provides a carefully developed scope and sequence, rich in real-world problem-solving opportunities. Learning experiences focus on problem solving through thinking and reasoning quantitatively, spatially, and logically. Everyday Math encourages partner and small group activities and games, and utilizes hands-on projects and explorations in order to focus on higher level thinking and problem solving. Small group work allows students the opportunities to work through problems collaboratively and develop and communicate original strategies. Girls are expected to learn basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts at specific points during the year. Throughout the year the girls are encouraged to explain their mathematical thinking which allows them to express their own thinking and gain insight from others.
  • Science and Engineering

    The lower school science program follows the Carolina Biological STC curriculum. At some point each year, every grade level, K-4, studies a life science, physical science, earth and space science, and science and technology. The science teacher and the classroom teacher work closely together providing classroom STEM activities as well as lab investigations. In the classroom, the girls read articles and books to expand their knowledge, and then visit the Science Lab twice a week where they perform hands-on investigations to deepen their understanding of the reading materials and vocabulary. The lab investigations follow an inquiry approach which promotes critical thinking and reasoning skills.

    At every grade level a variety of STEM activities support development of spatial awareness and reasoning as well as introducing girls to the diverse careers they could pursue in these areas. During engineering projects, the girls are introduced to the engineering design process. After being presented with a problem, the girls ask questions, imagine solutions, plan cooperatively, create and test designs, and then improve their designs- just like “real engineers”.
  • World Languages

    In Lower School we see the learning of Spanish as an important life skill and an investment in a girl’s future. The most valuable way to use Spanish in our global society is by being orally proficient. With that in mind, our focus in the classroom is on oral communication. The Spanish vocabulary is based on the concepts taught in Science. The science and Spanish teachers plan and coordinate their lessons. The use of manipulation of concrete objects, demonstrations, and small cooperative group activities develop meaningful vocabulary. In their Spanish classes, the girls are actively and creatively using Spanish to communicate while focusing on native pronunciation. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages recently awarded a national award to the Hutchison Lower School Spanish program, the Melba D. Woodruff award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program. Chinese is also introduced to all students in lower school. Through their weekly classes, the girls develop an appreciation for the Chinese culture as well as learn the Chinese language.
  • Social Studies

    Social studies in Lower School are integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. Girls study the past and how it relates to the present. They learn what it means to be a member of the school community, as well as, a responsible global citizen. Through hands-on projects kindergarten girls experience life as a pioneer child by spending a day on the Hutchison Farm living off the land. In first grade, the study of butterflies migrating leads to a study of community and the country of Mexico. The study of African American women authors in second grade, leads to a quilting project with mothers. Third grade girls explore France and film-making while reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Girls in fourth grade investigate topics of interest while studying Tennessee. During their study of Tennessee, girls work in small cooperative groups, research, design, and present projects that explain their learning. The Hutchison Innovation Lab serves as a hub for research and design as they complete and present their Tennessee projects.
  • Fine Arts & Physical Education

    Students in Lower School study Orff Music, an active and creative music making approach involving all students. This approach to learning builds musicianship through singing, playing instruments, speech, and movement. Active music making is the core of this philosophy, supporting both the conceptual and affective development of children. Ballet and formal visual art training begins as part of the weekly curriculum in kindergarten and goes through fourth grade. Teachers in fine arts have the opportunity to meet regularly with classroom teachers to plan interdisciplinary projects.

    Physical Education is provided four days a week, with movement-based activities designed to educate each girl physically, mentally, and socially. In a cooperative learning environment each girl learns age appropriate skills necessary to perform a variety of physical activities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

    Through active participation in art, music, dance, and physical education the girls develop interests for learning in areas that become lifelong passions
  • Technology

    Technology is used to support, enhance, and extend the curriculum. The girls are engaged in activities and projects that relate to what they are learning in class. Our goal is to meet different learning styles and expose them to various types of techniques and programs. The technology projects have a connection to language arts, science, and creativity. For example, third grade creates digital movies based on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. They travel through the creative process to make their own automation. The girls use tools such as flips, cameras, recorders, laptops, animation software, musical instruments, and iPods. Smartboards and Google Chromebooks enable girls to have easy access to the information and resources needed to create, collaborate, and communicate. Using Chromebooks, lower school girls are able to create and edit videos, make presentations and share ideas and discoveries with each other.
  • The Farm

    Sometimes it is best to experience the world away from desks and learn first-hand to appreciate and absorb nature. The Hutchison farm, located on campus, provides hands-on activities for the girls from planting and harvesting vegetables and herbs to collecting honey from the beehives. Teachers plan with the school horticulturist to integrate the farm experience into many of their classroom projects. The natural environment gives the girls another perspective on the world with an emphasis on sustainability and respect for all.

Lower School

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  • Photo of Katharine Kent

    Katharine Kent 

    Lower School Head

In the News


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  • Life at Hutchison

    Learn more about the Hutchison experience and why a girl's school is your daughter's best opportunity to excel.

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  • Learning by Doing

    Hands-on experiences improve reasoning and problem-solving skills. The farm, with a full-time horticulturist, is a student favorite. Girls collect honey from beehives and experiment with composting.

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  • Greet and Lead

    If you visit a lower school class, you will promptly be greeted by a poised young lady who will introduce herself, make eye contact, shake your hand and proceed to explain the lesson of the day. Lower school provides many opportunities for girls to develop leadership skills.

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  • Awesome Authors

    Class presentations begin in kindergarten when girls share the result of their research projects. At the first grade Awesome Authors Tea girls read to parents from their collection of stories. Performing for an audience is a valuable life skill that lower school girls practice through fourth grade.

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  • Create, Communicate, Collaborate

    Technology extends and enhances the curriculum as girls use Google Chromebooks to create and edit videos, including third graders’ animated movies based on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Come and experience

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  • Life at Hutchison

    Contact us today to tour our campus, meet with our admissions staff, and see the opportunities that Hutchison offers.