Al Lowell, opportunities abound for exploration, discovery, and learning. Teachers act as facilitators and guides, maximizing children's learning and helping them acquire strong fundamental skills at a developmentally appropriate pace.

Domains of Development

We recognize that social, emotional, and academic growth are very much intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Our Pre-Primary teachers purposefully and thoughtfully plan for learning that engages each of the domains of development.

Domains of Development Explained

List of 5 items.

  • Social + Emotional Development

    Between the ages of three and five, social and emotional skills are essential. We consider social emotional development the keystone in a child's life. When children feel safe, they trust in their community and are free to take social and intellectual risks—to ask a friend to play, experiment with colors and shapes, sing a song or share an event with peers and teachers, come to the aid of others and seek new challenges.

    Self-Identity + Emotional Development + Social Play + Pro-Social Behavior

    Through careful observations of social interactions and relationships, teachers support children individually and collectively. Teachers spend a major part of the day coaching children, helping them to help themselves, thereby working through social and emotional issues and building self-esteem. They also facilitate small and large group meetings and select literature to provoke conversations about feelings.

    The social curriculum is built into all activities and routines in a way that promotes social skill development, multicultural understanding and engagement, and community-building. At the same time, our teachers explicitly explore and teach topics such as friendship, caring for others, self-control, and conflict resolution.
  • Language + Communication

    Teachers intentionally work with children to help them acquire the skills necessary to listen to and understand what is being communicated verbally and nonverbally, as well as respond verbally and nonverbally to messages. Language development encompasses the ability to build a comprehensive vocabulary, organize and effectively convey messages, speak with clarity and fluency, participate in meaningful conversations, and gain a competency in one or more languages.

    Receptive Language + Expressive Language + Pragmatic Language

    Verbalizing, reading, and writing are intertwined and therefore simultaneously fostered. A significant part of the school day is spent in formal and informal conversation among and between teachers and children. During Morning Meeting, children have time to think out loud and express what is important to them without competing with other speakers.

    Respecting one another helps children to listen to and learn from their peers. When conflict arises, teachers help children express their needs. Feelings, whether positive or negative, are always acknowledged so that children feel free to express themselves.
    Pre-Primary children at Lowell are also exposed to Spanish on a daily basis and practice listening to and using key words and phrases central to their lives at school.
  • Literacy

    We recognize that literacy skills are comprehensive and involve listening, speaking, reading, and writing. For children ages three, four, and five, we say literacy skills are emergent—in the process of developing. Teachers help children develop the tools they need to become fluent readers and writers and focus on three primary areas: phonological awareness, print awareness, and book awareness.

    Phonological Awareness + Print knowledge + Book Knowledge

    Children learn to write by dictating what they need to say. Teachers capture children’s feelings with pen and paper when they want those feelings conveyed to parents or peers. The desire to express “I miss you” to a family member or sending a thank-you note to a visitor are powerful motivations for developing literacy skills. Children also practice writing during dramatic play. 

    Careful looking is constantly encouraged to help children become aware of written language. During the daily read-aloud, teachers talk about the author and illustrator and ask students to predict what the story might be about by looking at the cover, reading expressions on the characters’ faces, and analyzing different aspects of the story. Books by the same author or on the same subject are read for comparison. Rhymes and rhythm games are also part of story-time.
  • Cognitive Development

    Cognitive development involves the ability to learn, problem solve, make sense of information, and think on an abstract level. Thinking takes place on a concrete level with movement to a more abstract level as children mature. Mathematical and scientific thinking, as well as general knowledge about the world, curiosity, and imagination are included in this domain and encompass the ability to sort and classify, to comprehend number, time, and measurement, and to think critically, using reason and logic.

    Math + Science

    Children are natural scientists. They observe, wonder, speculate, question, make theories, and then test and modify them. Teachers foster what already comes naturally without interrupting the child’s process of discovery with ready-made answers. Teachers ask children to notice patterns in the environment, in literature, and when working with materials.

    Teachers also provide materials such as manipulatives and puzzles that encourage children to sort, match, compare, and observe patterns. Working with puzzles and pegboards requires abstract reasoning and the ability to focus and solve problems.
  • Physical Development

    Physical development encompasses muscle development, stamina, coordination, the ability to take care of oneself, and overall health, including eating and sleeping habits.

    Large Motor Skills + Small Motor Skills + Self-help Skills

    Children move to different areas of the school environment throughout the day and the week, satisfying their basic need and desire to move. Outdoor time is scheduled daily on our spacious playground, which provides opportunities for climbing, running, riding vehicles, and playing unstructured and structured games. Children can connect with the natural environment by digging through the soil, tracking insects, planting gardens, and watching things grow.

    Inside, students continue their physical education in the Willow Room, which is equipped with materials for locomotion, balance, throwing, and catching. Work in the Willow Room strengthens core, hand, and arm muscles while encouraging cooperative play.

    Work with manipulatives and pegboards offers many opportunities for children to develop the fine motor skills—such as eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, visual perception, memory, and handedness—that are prerequisites for writing and other learning in the primary school years.

    Time is set aside each day for snack and relaxation.

Specialist Activities

Over the course of a week, children take part in a variety of engaging activities that help support their development. In addition to morning meeting, singing meeting, choice time, and outdoor time, children have the opportunity to work with specialists in the following areas.

Specialist Activity Descriptions

List of 7 items.

  • Science + STEM Education

    Every day, teachers nurture a sense of wonder in their students. Science provides a wide open window into thrilling moments of discovery. Time is set aside each week for lessons, and the Wonder Lab offers opportunities for children to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) in an integrated way.
  • Creative Arts

    Teachers foster creative thinking through hands-on experiences that allow children to interact with different materials and processes. In the Art Studio, children are both idea makers and creative problem solvers. They are encouraged to ponder What happens when I poke, press, or pull the clay ball in my hand? If I put yellow on top of blue, what will happen next? How can I make my structure move?
  • Spanish

    Children are exposed to Spanish through songs, stories, cooking activities, and various classroom routines such as Morning Meeting, washing hands, and lining up. Each week, children engage in a more formal lesson that helps build vocabulary and listening skills.
  • Dance

    Laughing together at the joy of make-believe or participating in a gleeful romp provides a sense of oneness and community as children dance together in the studio. Older students begin to notice the spatial patterns and rhythms of their dance experience. Rhythms and patterns of movement from around the world are celebrated through simple folk structures and creative movement. Yoga is also integrated into the dance experience.
  • Music

    Children develop their singing voices through simple songs and learn to recognize a beat and clap along to music. They develop their social-emotional skills as they work together on a song, and they improve their gross and fine motor skills through movement to music and by playing instruments or doing finger plays.
  • Physical Education

    An important part of our Pre-Primary program involves large motor skill development and sensory processing. Our physical education teachers choose specific activities and equipment to build skills, strength, and endurance. The aim is for students to become competent, comfortable, and adept movers.
  • Library Time

    Library Time includes readings, author and illustrator studies, thematic units, and the search for that great book to take home and read with family. Parents also have borrowing privileges and many volunteer in the library.
Lowell School is a private PK-8th grade school located in NW Washington, DC. Our mission is to create an inclusive community of lifelong learners in which each individual is valued and respected.