ACADEMICS - LOWER SCHOOL
One core of Spring Valley School’s curriculum focuses on reading. Many of our students come to us because they are not strong readers. Every day we make this our priority.
Spring Valley School utilizes the Orton-Gillingham based teaching method which emphasizes a multi-sensory approach to reading, employing the visual, auditory and tactile systems. Based on over 60 years of research and practice, this unique curriculum is highly individualized and cognitive in approach. Our method of teaching is anchored in multi-sensory language instruction that stimulates and builds auditory, visual and tactile/kinesthetic pathways to learning.
For a struggling reader, instruction must begin at the letter/sound level in order to lay a foundation of strong and reliable phonemic awareness. In ways that are appropriate to the age and academic need of each student, all pupils are taught each of the letter sounds as well as all combinations of English letters and sounds. Our students learn the rules that govern how vowels sound within syllables and how words can be separated into syllables as well as the structure of sound patterns that make up syllables and words. Direct instruction, repetition and guided practice through multiple modalities are the methods effectively used at Spring Valley.
Reading comprehension is taught explicitly, modeled and practiced daily. As our students start to decode text, they begin guided practice in a wide variety of reading material, from the controlled phonics-based texts designed for the emergent reader to the rich content of award-winning children’s literature appropriate for the stronger reader. Our curriculum includes specific strategies designed to strengthen reading comprehension. Visualizing, predicting, questioning, summarizing and drawing conclusions are routinely taught and practiced. Basic literary elements such as theme, plot, character development and setting are explored and discussed.
At Spring Valley, fluency is practiced each day. Research in reading proves a strong link between fluent reading and strong reading. Spring Valley utilizes the structured fluency training program, Read Naturally.
Since skill in vocabulary is intrinsically linked to reading, the teaching of vocabulary is included in each grade’s curriculum. This includes the study of vocabulary specific to the subject matter of math, social studies and science.
Written Expression is a vital part of Spring Valley’s program. Our students learn and practice building strong sentences and basic paragraphs with increasing complexity. The steps of the writing process are taught and rubrics for good writing are established for each grade. Lower School students composed a “rock opera” as a writing exercise which was performed at the end of the year.
Sequential and spiraling manipulative-based programs are utilized for math concepts and skills. These concepts enhance critical thinking and problem solving. Students are taught at a grade-appropriate level following the guidelines of the Alabama Course of Study as well as the Curriculum Focal Points of the National Teachers of Mathematics. Saxon Math program is used in addition to the word problem strategies of the Singapore Math Program.
Spring Valley students at each grade level are actively involved in a hands-on exploration of Physical Science and Life Science.
Spring Valley emphasizes the importance of the Social Studies. Classes for Lower School students include: Geographic Studies, Alabama Studies and United States Studies from the Beginning until 1877.
Both manuscript and cursive handwriting are taught at Spring Valley.
Physical Education is vital to the overall health of each child. Daily classes include organized games and the development of skills for various athletic activities. Each child’s skill level is considered and additional help is provided when necessary.
At Spring Valley, we believe that the art and music curricula foster self confidence and expression for each student. Our art and music classes allow students the freedom to express themselves while offering enough direct instruction to be successful. Throughout the school year, our students’ works are showcased.