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The Classical Difference

St. Benedict Elementary offers a distinctive, classical education that seeks to help children grow in intellectual and moral virtue.

At every level of instruction there is an interweaving and integration of material. An interdisciplinary curriculum approach is constantly carried over to reinforce learning. During our Ancient civilizations course of study, for example, geography examines the ancient maps of the time; religion incorporates our Faith and Life Series through readings about Joseph in Egypt; the virtue of diligence may be introduced while the students examine the building of the pyramids; history explores art and the complementary study of hieroglyphics; science examines rocks and rock formation; mathematics focuses on the structure of the polyhedron itself. Students guided in this assimilated framework learn fast the beauty, grandeur, glory, order, connectedness and symmetry of the world around them.

This is only one example of a course of study and how the integrated curriculum is experienced.

 

HISTORY

Students enjoy reading of the beginning of history with the nomads; exploring the pyramids and mummies with the Egyptians; travelling to the original Olympics with the Ancient Greeks; and exploring the first republican form of government in Rome. This study of Greek and Roman cultures assists in the study of the American founding in later years.

The study of history at St. Benedict Elementary is distinctive in its expansive reach from the earliest days of civilization through Massachusetts state history and then into the great study of the American Founding and US history through the Civil War.

We believe exposure to history in “story form” at a young age is critical to developing the child’s inquiring mind. Moreover, to know oneself and the particular epoch in which one lives, one must have an awareness of the historical periods that preceded one’s own.

Studying heroic (and evil) figures of the past also enable students to possess the historical and literary content to think thoughtfully about the right way to live, what makes a man or woman great, and the qualities of good leaders and bad leaders.

 

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS (Spelling, English, Literature, Writing)

Students are taught how language works, which includes a deep grasp of phonics in reading and spelling, and word usage and syntax through the persevering study of English grammar. The study and recitation of poetry is used to cultivate memory. 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.

At St. Benedict Elementary, we want our students to develop the habits of mind needed to read insightfully, write beautifully, speak articulately, and think rigorously.

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 pursuing right action and truth.

Language and literature lessons complement concurrent, thematic lessons in history, culture, and religion, and thus provide a coherent, integrated curriculum.

 

RELIGION

The practice of the faith is woven through the life of the school with daily Morning Prayer, the Angelus at noon, weekly Mass celebrations, our weekly virtue talks, Music class, community outreach and service projects.

The teachings and beauty of the 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 learn of the gift of the Scriptures through select copywork and memorization of psalms and verses. They explore the treasures of Christian culture, art, architecture, music, and literature.

 

MATH

The Saxon Math curriculum has attracted national and international attention, respectively, because of its consistent track records of success.

All grades at St. Benedict study a level up in Saxon Math. Saxon Math, often referred to as the “Gold Standard” in Math, is well known for its spiral method, which enables students to solidify their grasp of math facts in the younger grades. Singapore Math’s widely reputed modeling methods allow older students to learning increasingly abstract mathematical concepts with greater ease.

 

SCIENCE

Through both simple and more complex experimentation, the study of science at St. Benedict Elementary teaches 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 with hands on activities and experimentation, children begin to hone their natural ability to investigate and learn.

First graders study living things, the seasons, and water cycles. Second and third graders master their understanding of Ecosystems while digging deeper into the relationships and characteristics of plants, animals, Earth’s resources and weather, energy and light along with basic engineering principles as it relates to each topic. Fourth and Fifth graders master their understanding of plant and animal characteristics and functions and begin to add on more complex topics such as: Magnetism and Electricity, the Human Body and its Systems, Land Formations, Weather, Cells, The Solar System, Energy, Light and Sound. They will also utilize engineering concepts as it relates to each topic.

 

ART

Complementing the study of the Ancient world, students imitate the very first human writings (hieroglyphics) on the earliest form of paper (cuneiform) by inscribing their own hieroglyphic codes in clay.

The study of art should encourage both hands on participation as well as an introduction to the great masters and works of art.

This study of art will naturally complement the study of History, Language Arts and Religion and in our beautifully integrated curriculum, exposing the students to the variety of ways peoples have expressed themselves through history.

 

VIRTUES

At St. Benedict Elementary, education empowers students to be the best they can be, the people God designed them to be. We believe students will only excel academically if they have learned and put into practice the human virtues that enable them to develop strong moral character–an internal compass that guides them to use their gifts for the common good. Growth in human virtue alongside instruction and practice of the faith leads to the development of faithful, responsible, considerate and committed people.

Each month at St. Benedict Elementary, a school-wide set of virtues is promoted in the curriculum and practiced in our school setting. The virtues are first defined and explored at our weekly class meeting, and then integrated into the curriculum through stories, history, poetry and literature. Rich examples of virtue (and vice) fill the pages of classical literature and every epoch of history: the perseverance of George Washington; the friendship of Aslan and Lucy, and the betrayal of Edmund in the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe; the just laws of Hammurabi.