Dominion’s lower school emphasizes the grammar, or facts, of learning. At this age, students enjoy memorizing a wide variety of information: parts of the human body, the family tree of Greek Mythology, geography of the world, and multiplication tables, for instance. The school’s faculty creatively uses song, rhyme, hand motions, chants, and repetition to help students gain familiarity with the information they will need in the middle (grades7-8) and upper (grades 9-12) schools. Recitation of poetry is a highlight among the children as they effortlessly move through the stanzas of classical verse with intonation and expression. The school’s hymns of the month provide a warehouse of theology and beauty that will serve them for years to come.
Establishing a love for learning
Historical periods come alive as students deliver oral presentations in costume, detailing the events and times of ancient Egypt or participating in a barbarian feast. In science, students enjoy nature walks at our pond, seeing and touching the flora and fauna. The two most important goals for our lower school are to help students gather a robust body of knowledge and to help them develop affections for the scholarly pursuit.
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
The classical model emphasizes the importance of literary classics, and students at Dominion jump right in to these “Great Books” from an early age. In English, they master the basics of language as they study spelling, syntax, and vocabulary. In writing, they are taught to express themselves with accuracy, clarity, and vivid description. In math, students master the basic skills and fundamentals needed to prepare them for the higher level mathematics to come. Convinced that the fundamentals must be mastered while students are young, Dominion’s lower school program provides “essential elements” as an oasis in an American educational model that often suffers from excess and trial and error. “More” does not always mean “better,” and “the latest” does not always equate to “the best.”
Latin, the Arts, and Physical Education
The study of Latin begins in third grade, equipping students to understand the structure of English grammar and broadening vocabulary from a young age. The program also augments the students’ studies of ancient cultures and history. Children discover the beauty of creation as they practice the fundamental skills of music and art. These developing talents are displayed to the community during our annual fine arts events. All Dominion students must participate in the fine arts for each semester they are enrolled, and athletics or physical education courses are required through the tenth grade. Learn more about Dominion’s fine arts programs by visiting the Campus Life section of our website.
Teaching Worldview in the Lower School
All truth is God’s Truth. The world was created for God’s glory and for man’s delight. Accordingly, students are urged towards recognition that everything they study reflects the mind of a Master Designer. Lower School students learn that, through the pursuit of knowledge, we come to understand the Creator’s world and our place as stewards of it. We learn to love God and to serve one another.
Some of Our Favorite Lower School Literature
- The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
- The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
- D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
- The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
- King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
- The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
- The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
- White Fang by Jack London
Our lower school curriculum is structured to prepare students for our rigorous college-preparatory middle and upper school programs. Since we “begin with the end in mind,” we also encourage you to learn more about these programs and to peruse the full upper school humanities reading lists, which reflect the scope of what a Dominion education can produce.
Beginning with the End in Mind
The portrait of an ideal graduate is a young man or woman of character who possesses the ability to thoughtfully and winsomely engage culture from a Biblical perspective. Dominion’s program is directed toward that end, so the school’s curriculum design takes place from twelfth grade to kindergarten rather than from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In other words, we determine the end-point and work backwards to determine what we must teach in each grade.
As test scores will bear out, Dominion’s upper school program is among the most rigorous in the nation. To a large degree, it mirrors the non-elective classical liberal arts curriculum that originally helped the likes of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale gain national notoriety. Consequently, our lower and middle schools are designed to prepare students for a rigorous secondary learning environment. Learn more about the unique classical pedagogical approach as well as about how our program is structured by viewing the following video.