The Upper Elementary Program (UE)
Using the ideas of Maria Montessori, Upper Elementary teachers at BHMS prepare a curriculum and learning environment that invites each student to become an active participant in his or her own learning process. The transition from Lower Elementary to Middle School is a time of great change for Upper Elementary students as they move from the concrete world of their earlier years to the threshold of abstract thinking found in the older classrooms.
The Upper Elementary Program for grades 4 – 6 builds upon the skills and content of the Lower Elementary global cultures curriculum, expanding students’ awareness of their place in the world’s history. By focusing on a variety of civilizations, students learn about significant historical contributions that have been adopted and adapted by societies through time, and they begin to understand how the past has shaped present-day societies, geographies, and current events. Students are able to delve into these subjects through challenging guided activities and independent research appropriate to their various developmental abilities.
With their knowledge of world culture and history, Upper Elementary students are ready and eager to have an impact on their surroundings, to learn how they can make a difference. The Upper Elementary curriculum offers a practical approach to these relevant issues. Students are urged to “think globally, act locally” by participating in weekly school-wide service work that might include collecting food for the hungry, caring for their classroom garden, or reading to children in the Preschool classrooms. In Upper Elementary, students continue their study of Spanish language and culture, building on the vocabulary and grammar learned in Lower Elementary, and preparing for the conversational projects of Spanish in the Middle School. The Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program is also a unique part of the Upper Elementary students’ curriculum, offering both mandatory and selective opportunities in drama, dance, art, photography, and ceramics. Students have regularly scheduled physical education classes each week as well as the opportunity to participate in team sports beginning in the sixth grade.
In addition to day trips to cultural institutions in and around New York City, Upper Elementary provides the first of BHMS’s overnight study trips. Every spring, Upper Elementary students and their teachers travel out of the city for two-night excursions to locations chosen for their natural environments, their ecosystems, and their opportunities for community-building activities. Students have a chance to explore a world beyond Brooklyn, to examine the interface of different species and climates, and to test their growing sense of independence away, briefly, from their families.
In Upper Elementary at BHMS, the student is gently guided through the developmental leap away from young childhood and toward emerging adolescence. Our focus is on building the foundations of organization, self-confidence, cooperation, and curiosity essential to success in Middle School and beyond. Our teachers provide a growing academic challenge while remaining respectful of the ever-complicated emotional responses of children as they deepen their understanding and empathy towards the world and its people.