An Independent, Coed Junior Boarding (5-9) and Day School (K-9) in Washington, CT

Lower School Curriculum


Kindergarten – IIIrd Form (Grades K-5)

Children in grades Kindergarten through IIIrd Form (5th Grade) at Rumsey Hall thrive in a small, nurturing environment that emphasizes inquiry, interconnection and the development of independence with a balance of structure and freedom. Role models abound and School values are lived. Lower School students enjoy the wonder of today and anticipate the promise of tomorrow. Teachers and instruction focus on students’ individual strengths and needs while presenting a strong base of knowledge and skills to build upon in the middle school years and beyond.

Each day, the Lower School gathers together for Morning Meeting as part of the School's focus on citizenship, community life skills and public speaking. After Morning Meeting there are eight academic periods, Monday through Friday, from 8am – 3pm. English, reading, math, science and social studies are taught by the homeroom teachers. Classes in music, art, foreign languages, language skills, health, physical education and library and information literacy vary the students’ schedules by requiring them to change classrooms with specialized teachers. A student run lunch is served family style in Farmen Hall.

After classes, students participate in the Afternoon Enrichment Program until 4:30pm. Activities include daily academic, athletic and art options that vary seasonally. IIIrd Form (5th Grade) students have the opportunity to participate in the Upper School Athletic Program, which includes many teams that compete with other schools.


Rumsey’s Kindergarten environment fosters self-exploration through an interdisciplinary, literature-based, hands-on approach. Its curriculum is child centered and inquiry based, and major units of study emerge from the interests and needs of the children. All aspects of the curriculum are presented in a variety of ways that serve each child’s learning style. Math concepts are learned using manipulatives and real life application. Literacy is introduced through a print-rich environment where students learn to form and identify letters and combine letter sounds to read and write words. Halfway through the year, students begin using Reader’s and Writer’s Notebooks to record their developing reading and writing skills. Art and creative play are important parts of the curriculum and provide many opportunities for each child to develop self-awareness, self-expression and a positive self-image. Kindergarteners routinely enjoy studying and connecting with the natural world at Treasure Island, the Lower School’s outdoor classroom.

Pre-Primes/Primes (Grades 1-2)

Language Arts
Students learn to read through whole class, literature-based lessons and small guided reading groups that focus on specific reading strategies. They also practice reading behaviors that allow them to become independent readers and writers. Grammar, punctuation, writing mechanics, spelling, phonics and handwriting are an important part of their daily language arts instruction. Students learn these skills through the Wilson Fundations and Sitton Spelling programs. Authorship is fostered in Writer’s Workshop where students find their voices while engaging in the process of writing.

The goals of the Pre-Primes and Primes math curriculum are to establish a concrete understanding of numbers and to teach specific concepts, skills and problem-solving strategies. Students use the enVisionMATH program in combination with hands-on, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities. Pre-Primes and Primes learn real-life application of mathematical concepts, while teachers devise and individualize programs to respond to the strengths and needs of their students.

Social Studies
In social studies, Pre-Primes investigate local farms and their connections with the community. They also study geography and mapping skills at a basic level and the community of Washington, Connecticut. Primes explore Native American and early colonial life with a focus on local history and culture. In addition, they conduct a geographical study of Connecticut and finish the year researching the lives of children around the world.

With cycles as their year-long theme, Pre-Primes study the soil and water cycles, food chains, birds and insects. Primes spend the year studying local ecosystems, researching rivers, trees, plants and animal life. As young scientists, Pre-Primes and Primes use their local environment and the Rumsey campus as their classroom laboratory.

Ist, IInd, IIIrd Forms (Grades 3 - 5)

Language Arts
Building upon the foundations established in the early elementary grades, students continue with whole class and small group, literature-based instruction. Independent reading and book clubs occur throughout the year to foster an enjoyment of reading. Books are selected by students and teachers according to the needs and interests of the class. During Writer’s Workshop, students confer with their teachers and peers to refine their craft. Writing conventions are integrated into Writer’s Workshop using the Sitton Spelling program. Instruction in keyboarding and cursive handwriting continues in Ist to IIIrd Forms.

Using the enVisionMATH program as a basis, students in Ist to IIIrd Forms develop and learn to apply a range of mathematical skills and strategies. Teachers present topics through a multi-sensory approach to accommodate different learning styles. New concepts and problem-solving strategies are introduced to prior knowledge. The math curriculum spirals through the years, offering students a chance to hone their developing number sense, conceptual understanding and mathematical reasoning.

Social Studies
In social studies students gain a better understanding of the world, developing the ability to make informed, reasoned decisions. Using current and historical events, as well as geographical and cultural studies, students develop connections between the past and the present. They reflect on opinions of important issues and analyze events for cause and effect. As part of a close-knit community, students practice pertinent social skills such as empathy, impulse management, conflict resolution, problem-solving and cooperation on a daily basis.

The science curriculum encourages students to learn first-hand through observation and investigation. They study a variety of topics, such as geology, computer science and coding, meteorology, energy, the solar system, oceanography and the human body. Research skills are introduced and honed, experiments are conducted, and presentations are given while students cooperate and share ideas. Through an inquiry-based approach, students develop many of the skills needed to find answers and synthesize new information in a 21st Century world.

Co-Curricular Classes


The Lower School music program is an immersive learning experience, incorporating a wide variety of methods and teaching techniques. Using elements of Orff Schulwerk, Kodaly and other methodologies, the program aims to generate an active understanding and practical application of music literacy, appreciation and creativity. Meeting two to three times a week, all students begin their musical journey with movement and games; moving to percussion, barred instruments and recorders as they progress through higher grades. With ample performance opportunities, students benefit from a comprehensive music program.

Foreign Language
Twice a week Kindergarten - Primes (Grade 2) students are introduced to the Spanish language and culture through games, songs, activities and stories. As part of Rumsey’s exploratory program, Ist Form (Grade 3) students study Spanish, IInd Form (Grade 4) students study French, and IIIrd Form (Grade 5) students study Latin. In each of these year-long studies, there is an emphasis on learning the language through oral presentation and written exercises. Students make connections among languages, ideas and cultural differences, encouraging global awareness.

The Lower School art program creates an environment where creativity is valued. Students are exposed to a wide variety of techniques and media in conjunction with art history through the use of thematic units. Through structured activities they are encouraged to feel ownership for their work while expressing their unique personal style. Each student keeps a sketchbook to brainstorm and develop ideas. In the art room, students know that any idea or concept is within reach.

Physical Education/Health
Rumsey’s physical education program works to develop motor skills on an individual and group level. Utilizing the SPARK physical education program aligned with NASPE national standards, the program focuses on developing healthy lifestyles, movement knowledge and social and personal skills through exercise and health education. Students attend two to three physical education classes per week and one health class every other week that focuses on basic health, nutrition, physical fitness, hygiene, safety and self-improvement.

Library & Information Literacy (LIL)
The Library & Information Literacy program focuses on creating readers and problem solvers. Through planned activities during regularly scheduled LIL classes, students enjoy stories and develop the skill needed to be effective and safe users of information allowing them to navigate an increasingly complex world. Throughout the year, library programs encourage a lifelong love of reading.

Afternoon Enrichment Program (AEP)

The Lower School Afternoon Enrichment Program runs daily from 3:30pm to 4:30pm offering a wide variety of exciting artistic, athletic and academic activities. Each term, with guidance from their parents, students review and select activities that are organized by Rumsey Hall teachers and specialists from surrounding communities. Athletic offerings focus on teaching good sportsmanship, rules of the game and teamwork. Visual and performing art selections focus on experimentation, creative expression, and skill development. IIIrd Form (Grade 5) students also have the choice to try out for Upper School athletic teams.

For more information please visit the AEP Page