During their time in the Lower School, through responsibility at every level, students learn to internalize, apply, and have a solid foundation and understanding of the PREP Values: Perseverance, Respect, Empathy, and Personal Integrity.
Lower School students at Rutgers Prep are taught to apply these values throughout their day, whether attacking a difficult structural build during a STEAM challenge, relating to a classmate's perspective during the 4th Grade Ethnic Pride project, or picking up an unfamiliar instrument with confidence for the first time in the Music Building.
All RPS students in grade 1 through 5 are challenged at least weekly to find solutions to problems in our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) classroom. Students learn the benefit of working in a group - performing as a team with rotating assignments as leaders and in specialized roles based on individual skill sets. Guided by a STEAM Education accredited faculty member, our students are encouraged to try something untested, creative, and bold. Success often comes from unexpected places.
Beginning in Kindergarten, students in the RPS Lower School IDEAS class learn to think outside the box, to be creative, confident, independent students while researching specific subjects using various forms of technology. Designed collaboratively with classroom teachers, IDEAS coursework teaches children successful research strategies and techniques within a Computer Science Curriculum, skills which are a launchpad to success in all of their classes.
"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." Pablo Picasso
During their time in the Lower School, through responsibility at every level, students learn to internalize, apply, and have a solid foundation and understanding of the PREP Values: Perseverance, Respect, Empathy, and Personal Integrity. Fifth Grade students are challenged to be role models for the younger students and deepen their capacity for empathy and understanding of others, a key component of effective guidance. They also participate in a retreat at Stony Acres filled with physical, skilled verbal, and group dynamic challenges allowing students to become closer to one another and begin to cohere as a group.
The Lower School has implemented Singapore Math (Math in Focus) as the core of our mathematics program. Singapore Math builds mathematical understanding through concrete (manipulative), pictorial (visual models), and abstract (symbolic) representation. It emphasizes the "why" before the "how," which leads to a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Problem solving is central to the program. Students are encouraged to think of several alternative ways to solve each problem, sometimes individually and other times with a partner or in small groups. Reading strategies and comprehension skills are also sharpened as students analyze word problems in a logical manner. This, in turn, helps develop metacognition (the ability to monitor one's own thought processes). All of these skills are of paramount importance for our young students as they prepare for a future filled with jobs that may not even exist yet.
PreKindergarten nurtures the social adjustment and school skills of the young child. Fostering self-help, listening and organizational skills and developing a love for learning are goals of the program. These goals are met with the guidance of dedicated professionals who plan and provide innovative, high interest activities within an encouraging and caring environment.
The program, a thematic-based approach, encourages children to make choices in the classroom according to their interests. The children are offered small and large motor activities, book selections, pre-math and pre-reading instruction, music and dramatic play and even snacks that encourage learning around a theme and a letter of the week.
Because Rutgers Prep is a Pre-K-12th grade college prep school, we are able to broaden the young student’s scope of instruction with teachers who specialize in the arts and physical education and who teach a wide range of ages. Our PreKindergartners attend physical education classes three times per week, and weekly classes in Spanish, art, music, guidance and library.
The Junior Kindergarten program at R.P.S. is an exciting one! Each week, our young students are presented with a theme and a letter of the week. A full range of activities and instruction are based around them. The curriculum for the first part of the year is designed around the seasons and the holidays, integrating that which is familiar to the child with that which is new. The second part of the year focuses on new concepts and more abstract thinking. Math and reading readiness activities, such as working with manipulatives, flannel board stories, cooking and other projects stimulate curiosity.
While learning centers are offered to challenge all different skill levels, the children are required to complete a daily project that encourages listening and organizational skills. The students attend daily specials outside of the classroom as well. We are proud to be staffed with professional teachers of music, art and physical education. In Junior Kindergarten, the students attend gym five days per week, Spanish one day per week and art one day per week. Weekly classes in library and guidance are also offered. Computers are offered as a learning center in the classroom.
The Kindergarten program at Rutgers Preparatory School provides our students with many opportunities to receive individualized attention. We strive to build independence, respect for others, and work to develop a sense of responsibility within each child. Our small pupil-teacher ratio enables us to make this possible. Our curriculum is a thematic one. For example our butterfly unit affords the children experiences not only in science but also activities in art, math, writing, and literature. There are always ongoing discussions in the classroom where children and teachers learn from each other.
Our language arts program is a comprehensive one, combining phonics and whole language. It incorporates a phonetic approach to beginning reading, listening skills, fine motor development, and cooperative learning games. Ample opportunities exist for expressing creativity- orally, in written form, and at the computer. Kindergartners enjoy working in their letter books over the course of the year.
Our mathematics program involves whole and small group experiences as well as activities that allow for individual expression. Children use concrete objects as they count, sort, pattern, graph, estimate and discover relationships. Each classroom has several computers. Our 100th Day of School party is the culmination of counting, calendar and place value activities.
Science and Social Studies
Social studies and science themes are integrated throughout the program. The children are frequently involved in cooperative learning situations. They work together to solve problems presented to them by teachers as well as by peers. Students learn to observe physical phenomena, to test their observations, to “discover” basic concepts and to explore their surroundings. Many activities reflect a multicultural theme. While students focus upon topics including the environment, seasons, their senses, and current events, it is each child’s personal development and respect for others that is most important. In addition, field trips, cooking projects for special events, art projects, music and movement experiences are interwoven as related to specific themes.
Fourth Grade Buddies
A unique experience for our Kindergartners is a special association with the fourth grade. Each Kindergarten child is paired up with a fourth grader. The Kindergarten and Fourth Grade Buddies meet on a regular basis. At these times, they work together to write stories, play games, read books, create seasonal projects, and share interests. A bond of friendship is created that lasts far beyond that Kindergarten year.
The first grade curriculum at Rutgers Preparatory School strives to instill the basic skills in all curriculum areas. With this foundation intact, enrichment experiences are offered so that the child can apply her/his knowledge through exciting activities. For example: our mammal unit affords the children experiences not only in science but also incorporates art, math, writing, IDEAS and literature. The children write mammal reports, create mammals, and read mammal stories. There are ongoing discussions in the classroom where children and teachers explore the learning process together.
Reading/Language Arts The first grade reading curriculum combines phonetic instruction and literary activities. Strategies that develop both literal and inferential comprehension are stressed, as well as decoding skills and vocabulary development. Students respond to literature in a variety of ways. They present plays, rewrite story endings, create book reports, and examine the story elements (setting, characters, problem, events, and resolution) of a book. The children are encouraged to read at home every day.
Much emphasis is given to the writing process. The children make their own books and keep journals. Verbal and written expressions are important life skills and are encouraged throughout the first grade. Students learn and practice the Zaner Bloser manuscript formation of letters and numbers. Keyboarding and word processing skills are introduced and students explore various computer software programs that help in the writing process.
Mathematics The first grade program emphasizes the basic concepts of addition and subtraction, measurement, geometry, estimation, problem solving, telling time, graphing, and counting money. Base 10 Blocks, Unifix cubes, tangrams, pattern blocks, and calculators are just a few of the manipulatives students use to develop their understanding of concepts and learn problem solving strategies. How one arrives at an answer is as important as the correct answer. The children talk about the processes they use and learn to apply their skills in a variety of problem solving activities.
Science Students learn to observe and explore their surroundings, to test their observations, and to “discover” basic concepts utilizing the campus as a laboratory. The children learn to conduct simple experiments. The following units are studied and integrated throughout the curriculum: mammals, pumkins, water cycle, birds, trees, the solar system and matter. Seasonal changes, environmental concerns, nutrition, and the weather are also addressed. Nature walks are taken around campus.
Social Studies Social Studies is integrated throughout the program. Many lessons reflect a multicultural theme to foster an awareness and appreciation for different cultures. Other units of study include; feelings, map skills, holidays, safety issues, and our state: state bird, tree, capitol, and seal. A student’s personal development and respect for others are also important elements of the curriculum.
Special Subjects STEAM - twice a week Art – once a week Physical Education – five times a week Spanish – twice a week Music – twice a week Library – formal class once a week Computer Lab – once a week Guidance – biweekly
Our second graders come together throughout the year to delve into all aspects of learning. Thematic studies help to form the basis of the language arts experience and bridge to other curricular areas. Animals and nature, important people, the ocean, families, and the rainforest make up part of the curriculum, along with other science and social studies topics of high interest to second graders, from dinosaurs to Hank Aaron. Students read throughout the day about all of these subjects, as well as about poetry and fiction. We look forward to our “Science Night” when parents and students investigate various science experiments together. Our yearly play also addresses science and social studies issues, and often in a musical way!
In second grade, students also begin to enjoy the beauty of the story writing process and become authors. All year long they create books of their own, knowing that at the end of the year there will be a “book signing” and read aloud to friends and family as an end of the year celebration! Mathematical thinking is tackled daily from many different angles, through hands-on activities, games, problem solving, and computational work. Hard work, lots of fun, and teamwork are the hallmarks of the second grade program.
D'Nealian cursive is introduced 2nd half of 2nd Grade.
Students in third grade progress through a multi-faceted reading program that includes the reading of novels, short stories, non-fiction articles and poetry. With emphasis on comprehension, the reading program fosters and develops higher-level thinking skills. The development of oral and written communication is integrated across all subject areas. Mechanics, proper grammar, vocabulary development, spelling and proofreading skills are taught and practiced. D’Nealian cursive is reviewed and practiced or implemented.
The math program stresses problem solving and cooperative learning skills. Cuissennaire rods, Base 10 blocks, tangrams, pattern blocks and calculators are just a few of the manipulatives students use to develop their understanding of concepts involving number sense, numeration, estimation, probability, fractions, geometry, graphing and whole number operations. Fluency of addition and subtraction facts is expected at this level. Third graders work to master the multiplication and division facts through 12.
The science program is a hands-on program which includes physical science, chemistry, biology, earth science and environmental studies. Projects are included within each unit covered.
The social studies curriculum is divided into three main units during the year: Pioneer Life, New Jersey and the United States. The units include map skills, geography, research skills, guest speakers, trips, hands-on projects and report writing. The children work both independently and cooperatively within work study groups.
The third grade schedule also includes a foreign language, art, computer lab, library, physical education, music and choir. A few of the special events to look forward to in the third grade are: Pioneer Day, Clubs, The Science Fair, The Liberty Science Center, Writing Day, Biography Awards, and Family Day to name a few.
Fourth grade offers a coordinated and integrated course of study. Students work on organizational skills and effective time management. Fourth graders have Kindergarten Buddies, serve on the Safety Team, and are responsible for a number of jobs that serve the Lower School.
Technology is integrated throughout the fourth grade curriculum. Children use laptops and iPads daily in all subject areas. Additionally, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) class and an IDEAS/Computer Class meet weekly. Technology at this level engages students in exploration, research and creative problem solving.
Academic classes include Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Often, cross-curricular topics 'connect' with each other to provide more meaningful methods for learning. An example would be the Fourth Graders' Ethnic Pride area of study. Students read books from different countries, create graphs with data obtained through research, write both creative and biographical stories related to family ancestry, perform plays, and sing songs and dances to music from various countries. The completion of this unit is celebrated with an Ethnic Pride Festival, a special day for the students and their guests.
Fourth Graders have daily classes in Musical Performance (Band, Orchestra or Choir), Spanish, and Physical Education. Additionally, Spanish meets three times each week, and Guidance, Library and Art meet weekly.
As the oldest members of our Lower School, our Fifth Graders share school-wide responsibilities, support and develop community service projects and awareness, strive for academic excellence, and above all, serve as leaders for our Lower School.
An off-campus Leadership Retreat takes place in early September, providing opportunities for classmates to develop better teamwork skills and leadership training for their role upon completion of the retreat. Additionally, a Leadership Class will be part of the weekly curriculum.
The Fifth Grade teaching team works collaboratively to provide differentiated instruction in all academics. Mathematic instruction is an on-going progression toward mathematical competence and confidence. Language Arts includes the reading of several novels, Writer’s Workshop, and the Sitton Spelling program. Students study historical and geographical concepts through ancient societies that include Egypt, China, Greece, India and Rome. Project work in Art and Music coincide with topics being studied in the classroom.
The Science curriculum incorporated biology, chemistry, ecology, and earth science. The class offers students a chance to investigate a variety of topics while learning about scientific methods and scientific thought. Additionally, a STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math) class will be offered twice a week, giving students the opportunity to learn through hands-on project based work.
Foreign Language is a part of the core curriculum in the fifth grade. All students take Spanish, and one trimester of Latin, (taught by their upcoming Middle School Principal). Aspects of culture and civilization are presented in both the modern and classical languages.
All students in the Fifth Grade participate in a daily performance elective, choosing from Band, Choir, or Orchestra. Choir is designed to give students an experience performing within a musical ensemble in which the instrument is the human voice. Students in Band and Orchestra learn to play ensemble music that entails phrasing, balance, intonation, different musical styles, and articulation. Beginners are welcome in Band, but students must have completed at least two years of lessons to be in Orchestra. Performances will be given throughout the school year to parents and students.