Laying a Strong Curricular Foundation
Elementary school at Rancho Solano provides students with a strong curricular foundation including humanities, language arts, foreign language, social studies, math, science and technology, and healthy physical exercise. The school’s exceptional program lays the foundation for successful academic careers and life skills. We instill a love of learning from an early age – rewarding critical thinking skills, curiosity, and creativity – while providing a firm foundation on which to maximize social, emotional, physical, psychological, and intellectual development.
Students are also instructed and guided on how to organize and manage their time. Activities develop research, note-taking, and outlining skills in preparation for our Middle School curriculum. Students learn to work independently and in groups at this elementary school level.
Character Education is embedded in all aspects of the student’s day. Respect for self and others is emphasized and practiced. Students develop a sense of community and learn to be productive, caring citizens of the world. We model, celebrate, and champion the Rancho Five – Respectful, Responsible, Polite, Considerate, and Successful in all aspects of our community.
Our exceptional curriculum sets the course for successful academic careers and life skills, and promotes emotional and intellectual development within a nurturing learning environment.
Lower School Curriculum
First Through Fifth Grade
Phonics training continues and expands in each elementary grade. By the middle of first grade, most children can read and comprehend any book or story suitable to their individual interests.
The reading program continues in the second and third grades. We emphasize reading comprehension and vocabulary development. As students approach middle school, instruction emphasizes reading comprehension, literary analysis and critical thinking. We also develop higher-order skills, pushing students to analyze, deduce, evaluate, formulate opinions and make connections.
We use the workshop method to encourage students to develop writing and thinking skills each day. The process—rather than the product—is emphasized. Students learn and practice vocabulary taken from the writing process. They are exposed to various writing styles through literary connections and classroom workshops. The mechanics of writing—spelling, grammar, handwriting, and organization—are taught as an integral part of all communication.
We focus on the reading/writing connection. The themes used in reading are also covered in writing, allowing students to expand the writing process across all curricular subjects.
Mathematics instruction stresses a clear understanding of the mechanics of mathematical computations. By the end of Grade 4, students have mastered addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In these grades, we also emphasize reasoning and estimating.
Additionally, we use manipulatives to make concepts concrete, and critical thinking skills are an essential part of the process. We emphasize the importance of mathematics by focusing on problem solving and real world application.
Fourth-graders gain proficiency in all operations involving whole numbers and decimals; the study of fractions continues through the fifth grade. Students become competent in working with fractions and mixed numbers.
Additional topics include:
- Perimeter and area
- Measurements with both metric and customary units
- Reading and interpreting graphs
- Ratios and proportion
- Critical Thinking and logic skills
We also stress problem solving and development of higher-order critical thinking skills.
Science is an integrated study of life, Earth and physical sciences. We use a hands-on approach that coordinates the elementary science lab with classroom instruction. Students participate in weekly science activities that combine group projects, experiments and presentations.
Students learn history, geography and map skills. We use hands-on activities and projects, films, video and field trips.
Students learn the basics of keyboarding and simple word processing. We use fun, challenging computer-based projects to enhance the classroom curriculum. Students become proficient with word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and graphics software. Additionally, teachers use Internet-based projects to reinforce skills and bring a new dimension to the learning process. Every classroom has one or more computers for student use, in addition to our computer labs.
Formal Spanish instruction continues to provide Rancho students with the tools necessary to understand and converse in a second language.
The Violin Program plays a critical role in the academic growth of students in first through third grade. Our innovative program empowers children to confidently express their individuality and inspires them to enjoy a lifetime of music.
In fourth grade, students may select beginning band and orchestra and choose their own instrument. Or students have the option of singing in the choir.
Visual Arts in the Lower School stimulate creativity and encourage students to establish connections between art and other disciplines, such as history and world cultures. Students also investigate the relationship between colors, shapes and lines through hands-on, age-appropriate activities. Our instructors use a variety of materials and techniques to expose students to the many possibilities that exist within visual arts.
Rancho understands that critical thinking, problem solving, and a global understanding are necessary skills for success. We believe that the creativity and multi-dimensional thinking developed through disciplined study of the arts are vital to development of these skills.
Physical education is an important part of the overall growth of Rancho students. Daily exercise, healthy competition and student camaraderie are all important parts of the program. Students are educated and evaluated on skill development through fun and thoughtful drills and games. Nutrition and health units are also a part of the physical education curriculum.
Emphasis on character development begins as soon as students set foot on a Rancho Solano campus. Our students learn to be productive citizens of the world. We incorporate the Rancho Five – Polite, Responsible, Respectful, Considerate, Successful – into a curriculum that transitions outside the walls of the classroom.
Kids That Care is a community service club for student in first through fifth grades. Rancho teaches students to giving of themselves to the community and world. We stress that each person can make a difference, and we provide a variety of projects and activities.
Beginning in third grade, students can be elected to represent their classroom in Student Government.