The upper elementary (UE) program is a continuation and extension of the concepts and procedures that were started in the lower elementary program. The children are moving solidly into the ability to think abstractly and advanced reasoning skills are emerging. This allows the child to move beyond seeking to understand ‘what’ and instead to delve into how and why. From advanced grammar to zoology, the students seek to understand how our world works.
The social group is becoming a major influence in the lives of the 9-12 year old student. By the end of this stage, the young person will depend much more on their peers, than on adults in their lives. Knowing this, it is essential to guide the child through the evolving complexity in peer relationships and their resulting conflicts. Learning how to have and be a friend, and learning to work and play with a diverse group of peers, teaching younger children and seeking advice from their teacher/mentor are important aspects of the students’ day.
The subjects that are covered are the same as those in the lower elementary program, but at a more advanced level. Writing and research take on a larger role. Technology also has a more prominent place in the program. Computer instruction moves beyond simple keyboarding to include word processing, desktop publishing, power point presentations, and website evaluations and searches. Science includes chemistry, physics, Earth science and more. History progresses in a three year cycle which includes NC History, American History and Ancient Civilizations. This is in addition to the students’ continued work on basic and economic geography. The wealth of material provides something to meet every student’s needs and interests.
Each student sets academic goals, with the teacher’s guidance, that he then strives to meet. This enables the student to actively participate in designing an education that is right for him. This does not, however, mean that the students work in isolation or solitude. Work is often carried out by small groups, though the children are free to work alone whenever they want. This collaborative, social learning sets the stage for developing interpersonal skills that will be applicable throughout adulthood. Personal responsibility, group responsibility, team work, collaboration, and time management are all developed through the students’ work.
The students continue to have instruction in art, music, yoga, Spanish and PE. They also take field trips, including overnight trips, to place throughout North Carolina and beyond. These experiences enhance the students’ classroom activities and make learning both more fun and more real.