At Hawken, education revolves around the central premise that young people’s talents can be maximized through a comprehensive and balanced curriculum coupled with challenging and diverse assessment. We are committed to providing an effective learning experience for our students, where classroom experience has practical life applications. Hawken’s Lower School offers a rich and varied program emphasizing the many facets of a child’s development. The Hawken classroom applies developmentally appropriate practice in an atmosphere that celebrates the joys of teaching and learning. Our faculty presents curriculum through multiple lenses and perspectives to maximize individual growth. Flexible grouping and focus on individual learning styles are utilized to achieve each student’s potential. In a day’s time, students have the opportunity to interact with teachers from a wide spectrum of subjects, benefiting from a seamless interdisciplinary approach to learning. With an emphasis on collaboration and the development of effective communication skills, Lower School students are encouraged to question, problem solve and demonstrate their understanding through verbal and written expression. Academic expectations are high, yet we understand that effective education must be cognizant of developmentally appropriate practice, and, at times, retain a flexibility to ensure each student is challenged in the most effective way.
Character development is an integral component of the Hawken education. The Lower School utilizes the Responsive Classroom approach, which places equal value on the development of academic and social skills. Building community is not a theory at Hawken, but has practical, every day application. It is exemplified by Morning Meetings, classroom expectations, and our school-wide standard of purposeful and respectful language. Multicultural understandings are woven into the fabric of the day through intentional choices of curricular content, teaching materials and opportunities for interaction and dialogue.
The acquisition of basic skills is an important component of a rich and well-rounded primary program. With this foundation, students become more confident learners and effective problem solvers. In an atmosphere that promotes taking safe risks, girls and boys learn to share their understanding and be receptive to creative problem solving - the idea that there is more than one way to come to a solution. Students learn specific problem solving strategies that can be applied and connected to the real world through a variety of experiential learning opportunities.
We believe an exemplary program for Grades 3 through 5 challenges students to develop self-awareness as independent learners, assume personal responsibility for academic learning and social behavior, and balance self-interest with active membership in the larger community. With this in mind, the educational experience for Hawken students in Grades 3 through 5 is organized into Three Pillars: Childhood toward Pre-Adolescence; Concrete Operational Thinking toward Abstract Thinking; and Guided Apprenticeship toward Independent Practice.
Childhood toward Pre-Adolescence
Students begin to exhibit pre-adolescent attitudes and behaviors, exhibiting an increased awareness of themselves and of the social world around them. These new perspectives yield deep changes in the ways in which students view (and understand/regulate) themselves, interact with others, and approach learning challenges.
Concrete Operational Thinking toward Abstract Thinking
Students’ cognitive processes reflect concrete operational thought. Students demonstrate a greater ability to reason logically, apply mental concrete operations to everyday situations and problem solve. Students organize information in more complex ways and can now apply principles of hierarchical classification to the world around them. Some 5th grade students demonstrate threads of abstract thinking, which will develop more fully as they move into the Middle School years.
Guided Apprenticeship toward Independent Practice
(Approaches to Learning)
Students expand their repertoire of tools and strategies for learning. With supportive instruction and gains in complex cognitive capacity, they begin to access and utilize appropriate strategies in varied learning situations. Students practice skills with greater efficiency and accuracy, approaching learning with increased sophistication and independence.
Every year, the 3rd Grade upholds an institutional tradition in hosting Pioneer Day. This amazing day culminates a deep study of our local forefathers and immerses students into the culture and practices of the early settlers to the Mid-West.
All students select a string, woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument for a 4th and 5th grade study commitment, which may be continued or replaced with another musical option at Middle School. 4th Grade marks the beginning of a progression in study that encourages student independence. Additionally, 4th Grade students participate in two single week experiences at University Circle. The Gries Center offers a student base for experiential and service learning and easy access to the rich educational resources and experts found in the University Circle area.
5th Graders embark on a leadership program that helps develop a sense of responsibility, motivation and commitment to community service. Students select a non-profit and are mentored by non-profit leaders. Each year culminates with a student presentation about their experience for parents and non-profit mentors. 5th Grade students additionally participate in a three-day outdoor educational camp at Camp Asbury. This program consolidates the Lower School experience and starts the transition for a student from 5th to 6th Grade. Campfires and s’mores are enjoyed by all!