RELIGION CURRICULUM AND CHARACTER EDUCATION PROGRAM:
The teachings and beauty of our Catholic faith is not only a subject of academic study in each grade, but is woven through all of what we do at St. Benedict Elementary, providing unity and cohesiveness to the curriculum. Students receive a rich education in the Catholic faith through use of the Faith & Life Series, published by Ignatius Press. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI himself called the German translation “the best catechetical series…” Students also learn of the gift of the Scriptures through select memorization of psalms and verses. They explore the treasures of Christian culture, art, architecture, music, and literature.
Our virtue based character education program teaches students universally-valued virtues such as honesty, integrity, perseverance, respect for self and others, self-control, and patience. We intentionally integrate this formation in the virtues into the culture of the school as well through our study of character development and heroism in literature and history.
The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child is an award-winning series of books that can be read aloud to or read by young children (Grades 1- 4) to bring history alive. This series, which includes an expansive teacher activity book to guide map work and the creation of timelines, serves as the “spine” of the history and geography curricula in the early years, and is supplemented by great literature, biography and poetry of the time and place.
In addition to the study of important national holidays and key American figures (e.g., Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, etc), each academic year will traverse a particular epoch in history, with an emphasis on Western civilization, but also with attention to the many cultures that form our country’s cultural landscape today:
Kindergarten and First graders will begin exploring historical and geographical concepts, and begin work with maps, including study of the oceans and continents. The first grade follows a timeline spanning from Creation to the present day. New historical figures are briefly introduced on a weekly basis.
Second graders will explore the beginning of history, the nomads, the earliest writing, the importance of the Nile River to early civilization, and the lives of the Egyptians. They will then be introduced to the civilization of the Ancient Greeks, the original Olympics, and great, enduring stories of heroism. They will continue their exploration of maps through guided map work of the ancient civilizations they explore, and then later, the world’s great oceans and rivers, continents, and other landforms that make up the world in which they live. They will study the importance of both natural resources and the character of leaders in the development of civilization.
Third graders will learn about the lives of the Ancient Romans, reviewing the grand, enduring influence Roman culture has had on all Western civilization—from roads, to language, to our republican form of government. This early exposure to our Roman heritage will facilitate study of the founding of America in later years. Third graders will also explore our own rich Massachusetts history, from the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims. Through this study, third graders learn the history of their own cities and towns and about famous people and events in Massachusetts’ history.
Fourth graders will traverse several hundred years, stopping first in the Middle Ages inEngland with Beowolf and medieval monasteries, and then onto serfs and noblemen, knights and castles. They will then explore the historical occurrences in Europe that preceded the discovery of the New World, including the Magna Carta, scientific advances, and religious persecution. Geography will be integrated into the study of history, including first the countries and peoples of Western Europe.
Fifth graders will study the major civilizations in the New World: the European explorations around the world, particularly in North America; the earliest settlements in North American and the development of the English colonies. They also study the early development of democratic institutions and ideas, including the ideas and events that led to the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War as well as the founding of our republican form of government under the U.S. Constitution. Students will memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the beginning of the Gettysburg Address, exploring what these momentous documents have meant to our country.
Sixth graders complete a capstone year by reviewing the history that the students have learned during their time at St. Benedict Elementary and deepening their knowledge of Western Civilization. Student will begin by studying the development of the civilizations of Sumer and Egypt. Next they will study the three major civilizations that have shaped our world today: Israel, Greece, and Rome. They will learn about the connection between the history of Israel, its documentation in Sacred Scripture, and the pivotal role that it plays in the history of the West. Then students will deepen their knowledge of the history of Greece by studying its historical figures, mythology, government, culture, and wars. Students will be introduced to and become familiar with early Greek philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle by reading selections from their works. Students will study the history of Rome and understand the formative place Rome has had on our idea of law and government, as well as how Rome paved the way for the spread Christianity. The final part of this class will be devoted to the history of the Early Church and the development of Christianity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Students will memorize important dates in the history of Western Civilization, and in geography, students will identify country and capital of Middle Eastern, African, and European countries.
LANGUAGE ARTS CURRICULUM:
We want our students to read insightfully, write beautifully, speak articulately, and think rigorously. This means they must be taught how language works, which includes a deep grasp of phonics in reading and spelling, word usage and syntax through the persevering study of English grammar (and Latin beginning in the 3rd Grade), and composition and expression. Students should learn how to question a story and be questioned by it. By being introduced to beautiful and enduring literature, poetry and biography, even young students can be encouraged to consider the worthiness of characters’ choices, the consequences of their actions, and the importance of right action and truth. The study and recitation of poetry is used to cultivate memory, especially in the early years when children’s memory is strong and capable. Copywork and narration in the early years help students to imitate proper technique and find their voice. Dictation in later years allows students to emulate beautiful writing. The development of creative, expository, and analytical writing enables young thinkers to build confidence in the expression of their imagination, memory and intellect.
Language and literature lessons complement concurrent, thematic lessons in history, culture, and religion, and thus provide a coherent, integrated curriculum.
Grade appropriate texts include:
- Phonics/Spelling (Grades K-2): Classical Phonics (Memoria), Phonics & Spelling (Saxon)
- Spelling (Grades 3 and up): Spelling Skills; Spellwell (EPS Literacy)
- Writing (K-6): Voyages (Loyola Press); Writing is supplemented in Grades 3-6 with Writing & Rhetoric (Classical Academic Press)
- Penmanship: Copybooks & New American Cursive (Memoria Press)
- Grammar: Voyages in English (beginning in Grade 1) and Exercises in English (Loyola Press)
- Vocabulary: Wordly Wise (Grade 2),Vocabulary in Action (Loyola Press)
- Poetry: Harp & Laurel Wreath and many others
SBE uses Saxon Math, a method well known for its spiral method, which enables students to solidify their grasp of math facts in the younger grades. Saxon’s incremental and cumulative approach allows students to master concepts daily and develop fundamental memorization techniques. Students learn advanced content through Saxon Math at a level above their current grade.
Through both simple and more complex experimentation, the study of science should teach children to observe their surroundings carefully and help them to understand the world around them. With reading and discussion, writing to document hypotheses and observations, and hands-on activities and experimentation, children will begin to hone their natural ability to investigate and learn.
First and Second graders study living things, the seasons, and water cycles.
Third graders master their understanding of Ecosystems while digging deeper into the relationships and characteristics of plants, animals, Earth’s resources and weather, energy, force and motion, along with basic engineering principles as it relates to each topic.
Fourth graders develop an appreciation for the size, complexity, and rhythms of the natural world through the study of astronomy, Earth science, and chemistry. Students are introduced to the methods and discoveries of natural philosophers in the middle ages. Topics of focus are stars, the solar system, exploration of planet Earth, Earth’s materials, forms of energy, and elements, compounds, and mixtures.
Fifth and sixth graders appreciate the beauty, order, and intelligibility of the natural world. Students learn about the role of scientific discovery and technological innovation in western civilization. Topics of focus are order in nature, structural and behavioral adaptations of plants and animals, life cycles, and biological systems.
SBE students are introduced to a robust Latin program beginning in Kindergarten. From this year on, students memorize Latin prayers and phrases such as the Salve Regina and are exposed to a range of Latin texts. In the Third Grade, students begin to receive more formal instruction in the language with Latin grammar and vocabulary. The upper level grades, from Third Grade through Sixth Grade, learn to conjugate verbs in their various tenses, decline Latin nouns, recite prayers in Latin, and more. Instruction in the Latin language provides the gateway to a more comprehensive understanding of the English language and grammar, a foundation for expanding vocabulary through etymology, and greater accessibility to other languages and cultures.
- Latin (Grade 3): Latina Christiana (Memoria Press)
- (Grades 4-6): First Form Latin (Memoria Press)
ART & ART HISTORY:
The study of art encourages both hands-on participation as well as an introduction to the great masters and works of art. This study of art naturally complements the study of history in our integrated curriculum. The great masters and their works will be studied in depth through the selection of a particular artist each month that all students will focus on both in Art classes and individual grade level classrooms.
MUSIC & MUSIC HISTORY:
Our music curriculum begins with our students being introduced to Gregorian chant and sacred music. Students become familiar with the “music of the masters,” music theory, and through music class as well as a feature “Composer of the Month,” experience the joy and beauty of music appreciation.
All students at SBE are introduced to the art of public speaking. In K-Fourth Grade, Oratory takes place within the context of other subjects such as Literature, Grammar, History, Religion, etc. In the Fifth and Sixth Grades, students receive formal instruction within the context of an Oratory class.