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The Critical Time of First Grade

1st Grade Bear

Parents know that a child’s development is critically influenced by environmental factors, both at home and at school. A six-year-old in first grade is hitting some major milestones, and their development at this stage will be crucial in their further growth and maturity. At Arches Academy, our highly-qualified faculty are in the perfect position to help you in this potential turning point in your child’s life, education, and development.

Modern child psychology lists a few specific areas of development that are significant in your child’s First Grade year.

Six-year-olds have growing attention spans, and appreciate taking on additional responsibilities, but they still require solid structure and frequent direction. The small class sizes at Arches Academy give our First Graders this perfect balance of structure and responsibility. Because the teacher is intimately familiar with each student, and aware of each child’s strengths, interests, and learning abilities, they are able to provide an individualized environment where each child can receive appropriately tailored responsibility, direction, and educational experiences.

First Grade is a determinative year in a child’s reading and language skills. This is the year students ideally become fluent readers, and their grammatical structures become complex. In terms of this linguistic and literary development, Arches Academy is securely ahead of the curve in two important ways: First, Arches Academy kindergarteners have already developed strong reading skills, many reading above age-level, and continuing this growth in First Grade is vital to literacy skills and development. Second, all Arches students, from Pre-K onward, receive foreign language training, which is almost unheard of in public schools. Again, our small class sizes are critical in allowing students to develop and learn at their own pace.

In other environments, even the best teachers may have to deal with overcrowded classrooms and spend a good portion of class time dealing with disruptive behavior and classroom management issues, which can inevitably lead to a bright student becoming bored and disengaged. First Graders at Arches Academy aren’t just ahead of their peers, they are given the environment needed to continue at this accelerated, natural, and individualized pace.

Singapore math icon

This is also a period of rapid development in mathematical thinking and ability. What applies to language education also applies here. Arches Academy students are instructed in Singapore Math (a curriculum consistently ranked number one worldwide) from the very beginning. This means that Arches Academy students test well beyond their peers in math. Our First Grade students don’t just come from kindergarten ahead of the curve, they get to continue learning in an environment and at a pace that keeps them on the fast-track, and keeps them excited about school.

First Grade students at Arches are ahead in these core subjects of math and literacy, but what about other vital areas of development? What about science and fine arts? What about social, emotional, and behavioral development?

Our First Graders participate in the annual Science Fair and Fine Arts Gala. They regularly attend events and go on field trips with older peers. They participate, along with the entire school, in yearly choral and theater performances. They learn artistic and fine motor skills in an art class small enough for individualized help and attention. They become excited about science, engineering, history, geography, and other subjects, in our engaging and varied mini-courses. This is quite a different experience from a first or second grader in a public school whose education consists in large part of filling out tedious and unchallenging worksheets while an overloaded teacher tries to help disruptive or academically behind students.

In terms of social and emotional development, six-year-olds typically exhibit confidence, and enjoy sharing their newfound skills and abilities. They begin to show increased awareness of the emotions of others. Predictable routines and safe, secure interactions with adults are vital at this stage of development. This type of development is one of many important reasons why class sizes at Arches Academy are and will always be small, often half the size of classes at charter or public schools. This small size, plus our special teachers, create an environment where each child is noticed and highlighted as a special individual, where disruptive or manipulative behavior that could harm your child’s development and education won’t go unnoticed and can be dealt with safely and quickly, where each child is known intimately not just to one teacher, but to every teacher and all the administration.

At Arches Academy, it’s not just the teachers that notice and reinforce good behavior. The students encourage it among themselves. We use the 7 C's of the 21st Century in our curriculum and school community to inspire and encourage students to be their best selves. Students earn "C's Bucks" for good behavior, which they can collect and use in the school store or to earn a class party. Each week, students vote for their friends and classmates as “Leader of the Week.” This leader is someone who has been a model example of the "C" the school is focused on for the month. This environment adds to a child’s holistic and positive educational experience.

First grade is as critically important in a child’s development as Pre-K and Kindergarten. This is where the progress made in Pre-K and Kindergarten can be advanced upon or lost. Arches Academy is proud to provide not only the best head-start for our youngest children, but to continue building upon that strong foundation in first grade and beyond. Continuous enrollment contracts are now available, and you can find them at the front desk. And as always, if you are looking for a better education for your child at whatever age, please feel free to contact us and schedule a tour.

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