New England Classical Academy


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September 2021
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Grades K-2

Primary grade students receive instruction in a full range of academic subjects, based on the recommendations of the acclaimed Core Knowledge Sequence.

Reading (Phonics)

Reading instruction is the focus of the primary grades. Beginning in Kindergarten, students receive a thorough grounding in phonics-based reading instruction. Creative, diversified instruction keeps students engaged in the learning process and allows them to make steady progress toward proficiency.


In an age when penmanship is rapidly becoming a lost art, our handwriting program helps students establish good writing habits. The Cursive First curriculum helps students develop a clear, legible hand while avoiding common reading and writing difficulties (e.g., b/d reversals). With copywork - copying a correct literary model - we teach not only handwriting, but also spelling, English mechanics and usage, and memory work. Copywork materials are chosen to complement our literature and composition programs for a fully integrated approach to Language Arts in the Lower School.


Recognizing the importance of mathematics to both intellectual development and practical applications in the sciences, the Academy stresses mathematics from the earliest grades. Students work with a variety of manipulatives as they learn multiple problem-solving strategies. With this foundation in place, students do not merely apply algorithms by rote but develop an experiential understanding of the fundamental principles of mathematics. (Click for more information on our Primary School mathematics curriculum.)


The Academy's program is designed to expose students to the best and most influential works of literature. Beginning with Aesop's fables, European and world fairy tales, folk stories, legends, and American tall tales in the primary grades, the program progresses to short stories, novels, poetry, and drama in the Grammar grades. Students also hear and read key stories from the Bible, which is central to cultural and religious literacy. Whenever possible, reading selections complement the history and composition curricula, making for a uniquely integrated program.


Lower school students undertake a thorough and systematic study of both world and American history. The goal is for students to develop familiarity with major historical figures and events through the study of biography, narrative, and chronology. The curriculum gives preference to well-written "living books" that engage the student and provide excellent literary models. These books also provide models for student writing in our composition program.

Topics studied in the primary grades include:

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Asian Cultures (China, Japan)
  • Early American Peoples and Civilizations
  • The American Revolution
  • Presidents, Past and Present
  • American Government: The Constitution


Primary students gain foundational knowledge of geography with the study of the seven continents, oceans, and basic landforms. The study of geography is integrated with history so that students can appreciate the effect of the physical landscape on human life and civilization.

Natural Sciences

The Academy's science program provides students with a strong foundation for further study of the natural sciences in the Upper School. The youngest students learn to read the "book of nature" as they observe the seasons and cycles of the natural year. Topics studied in the primary grades include:

  • Plant Growth
  • The Senses
  • Seasons and Weather
  • Human Body Systems
  • Astronomy
  • The Water Cycle
  • Magnetism

Fine and Performing Arts

At the Academy, the fine and performing arts are fully integrated into the classroom experience at all grade levels. Students learn basic art techniques through picture study and hands-on projects, as well as art history and appreciation.  Primary students learn folk songs and hymns and listen to a rich selection of musical compositions (orchestral, operatic, ballet, jazz). They also begin their study of drama with a range of theater games and class exercises.  

Physical Education

Our physical education program helps students establish the lifelong habit of healthy physical activity while teaching sportsmanship and teamwork. Lower School students participate in fun P.E. classes in an encouraging and positive environment.