Lower School

Grades 1-5

Our Philosophy

At Hawken, education is grounded in the central premise that young people’s talents can be maximized through a comprehensive and balanced curriculum coupled with challenging and diverse methods of assessment. We are committed to providing an interdisciplinary classroom experience that highlights practical life applications and an atmosphere that celebrates the joys of teaching and 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 remain cognizant of developmentally appropriate practice, and, at times, retain a flexibility to ensure each student is challenged in the most effective way.

Recent renovations to the learning environment, which was designed for optimum sensory stimulations through attention to light, sound, texture, and a direct connection to the natural world, supports collaboration and project based learning. To more effectively implement our educational approaches and goals, a new schedule has been created that allows for focused work on fundamental skills and also provides flexible time for innovative applications of those skills in new and different ways. We believe that this balanced allocation of time is the best way to honor the whole child and to address individual learning styles. Teachers maintain an electronic portfolio of each student’s work as a way of benchmarking the growth of core skills. This living document also allows for anecdotal observations and notations from the teacher so that parents can track their student’s progress and development over time.

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. The concept of community has practical, every day application at Hawken and 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.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hawken-JCU M. Ed. Program, which is cooperatively offered by Hawken School and John Carroll Universityclick here.

Lower School Academic Overview

List of 4 items.

  • The Lower School Program

    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 tudents 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 (Social/Emotional Development)

    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 (Cognitive Development)

    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.

Grade-Level Highlights

List of 5 items.

  • Grade 1

    Through an age appropriate project called “Just in Case,” 1st graders collaborate with 5th graders and learn about the benefits of philanthropy and the challenges of homelessness.  Students collect donations of essentials and fill backpacks for donation.
  • Grade 2

    Starting in 2nd grade, students are introduced to one week sessions where they rotate through a range of real world learning opportunities. This week, known as Mini-Insights, has included such activities as Outdoor Olympics, Publishing Short Stories, Song Writing, and Basket Weaving.
  • Grade 3

    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.
  • Grade 4

    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.
  • Grade 5

    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!
Hawken's Hurwitz Hall opened fall 2013, completing the Lyndhurst campus renovation. Read more here.
Click here for information on Hawken's libraries at Lyndhurst and Gates Mills.

Hawken School | Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106
440.423.4446