In the Lower School, students are known as individual learners within a caring community of excellence. The Lower School is the largest division of Newman and spans a substantial period of development, from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. Students begin their educational adventures here and emerge with the knowledge and critical thinking skills that will help them excel in Middle School and beyond.

The curriculum establishes a strong foundation in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science, which employs three separate labs for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The curriculum is enhanced by rich learning experiences in the arts (including visual arts, drama, band, music, and chorus), world languages (students may choose between French and Spanish), Design Thinking and Innovation, and physical education.

Lower School students build on classroom lessons through endeavors great and small: we study coastal erosion and plant tree seedlings in the Louisiana wetlands; we solve multi-step algebraic math problems using bar modeling; and we write books, paint, make music, and explore world cultures. The curriculum, based on current educational research and best practices, is aligned so that the student’s academic journey is progressive and expansive. Please explore content areas below to learn more about the Lower School curriculum.

List of 8 items.

  • Language Arts & Humanities

    Newman’s Language Arts curriculum is structured so that students have multiple opportunities to engage in literacy throughout the day. Components of the curriculum include reading and writing taught through direct instruction, small flexible guided reading, systematic, explicit phonics instruction, and grammar and handwriting instruction. Classroom libraries, the Lower School library, and digital texts provide students with a host of choices. Both expressive and receptive language skills are taught and practiced in whole class and small groups. In grades Kindergarten through Fourth, students work to read fiction and nonfiction, and write informational, narrative, and opinion texts thus preparing them for Fifth Grade Humanities. The relationship between reading and writing, and the enjoyment these bring, are integral to our Lower School students. Literacy instruction is our most important responsibility and provides the foundation for all future academic endeavors for our students. Learn more about Newman's literacy instruction framework.
    Fifth grade Humanities combines the traditional Language Arts and Social Studies classes in order to help students focus deeply on three key skill areas: reading, writing, and critical and creative thinking. In class, students explore the medieval world, studying historical events and encountering literature that gives them a window into this time period. Research projects and writing assignments focus on the Middle Ages, allowing students to deepen their knowledge about this era, while also practicing their research and writing skills. During the fall, students focus on the Middle Ages in Europe, examining the effects of the fall of Rome, the feudal system, the rise of towns, and the Crusades. Then, students explore Mesoamerica, looking at cultures that developed in the Americas during these same years. In the winter, our focus shifts to the Middle East, where Islam developed and a “golden age” of intellectual achievements and advancements occurred. In the spring, our world tour concludes in medieval Japan, a feudal society quite similar to Europe. Throughout the year, fifth graders are encouraged to examine relationships between people, events, and works of literature, as well as multiple perspectives, all while deepening their skills in terms of grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, public speaking, and research.
  • Mathematics

    Newman adopted the Singapore Framework for Math Education in 2007 for our kindergarten to fifth grade students, and we use the Math in Focus series. Singapore Math is designed to create an environment where all of our students are challenged to develop essential skills and deep mathematical understanding. Our goal is to provide a rigorous and engaging math curriculum that develops students as mathematicians and thinkers. Learn more about Singapore Math here.
  • Science

    Children, even at very young ages, are deeply curious about the world around them and eager to investigate the many questions they have about their world. Our Lower School science program encourages students to ask questions, observe, reflect, collaborate, and think expansively about their world and their place within it. Engaging students in the learning of science and STEM takes advantage of this natural curiosity and helps them to answer their own authentic questions and solve real-world problems that they encounter in our labs and during field work. Our science and STEM specialists are committed to helping our students develop into people who are scientifically-literate, decision-makers, and life-long learners.
    The Lower School science program empowers our students with the skills and knowledge to create scientific and STEM discoveries through investigation and inquiry. Our program illustrates to students that science encompasses every aspect of their daily lives. The classes are designed so that all students can be successful in “discovering” science, having positive attitudes toward the discipline, and developing scientific reasoning and evidence-based thinking. From preschool through fifth grade, our students are connecting ideas, building concepts, and engaging in meaningful science and engineering practices.
    Our science and STEM specialists design effective, inspiring, and equitable science and engineering pathways for students. Lessons and units are constructed with great attention to the potential that all children bring with them, the unique identities and strengths of each individual child, and the systemic and contextual influences that shape patterns of difference in every child’s experience of and with their world. With this is mind, our science curriculum employs hands-on, inquiry-based learning methods. Students develop an understanding of the concepts and topics presented through observation, inquiry, research, experimentation, and discovery.

    Concepts are reinforced through field experiences, interactive simulations, work with experts, and activities that address students’ varying learning styles. All lessons and units are based upon the standards set under the Next Generation Science Standards, and have students “doing” science and working as a scientist.
  • Social Sciences

    The Lower School social sciences curriculum is focused on developing each student’s awareness of self and his or her place in our world. We apply the lens of our core values of kindness, honesty, respect, and responsibility; learn about significant historical events and their effects; study communities; and solve problems. Students learn to research, express ideas both orally and in writing, and engage with opposing viewpoints.

    As students move into upper elementary, we then expand our scope to learn about our local, national, and global community as we work to produce citizens who make purposeful contributions to our culturally diverse, interdependent world.
  • Physical Education

    The Lower School Physical Education program is designed to develop sportsmanship, participation, and positive attitude toward physical fitness. Through various physical activities each student grows emotionally, socially, and physically. In Pre-K through first grade, the emphasis is on gross motor development through non-competitive activities. In second through fifth grade, organized team sports are introduced through drill-based activities and lead up games.

    Physical Education classes consist of activities in which every child can enjoy and be successful according to their needs and abilities. Our goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment in which all students are encouraged and challenged to learn the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities and sports. 

    Physical Education classes take place in high-quality facilities that include multi-purpose classrooms, a swimming pool, and turfed football field. In addition to physical education classes, sportsmanship is practiced and recognized each year by coaches and fellow students through special assemblies.
  • Design Thinking

    Newman’s Innovation and Design Thinking program is incorporated into the curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. At its foundation is a collection of mindsets that empower students to be creative problem solvers at school and throughout their lives. These mindsets are empathy, an attitude of prototyping, collaboration, iteration, and feedback.

    Pre-K through 5th grade students attend a weekly class in the Innovation Lab to develop skills such as tool safety, prototyping, teamwork, brainstorming, and empathy. Design Thinking challenges are introduced at the earliest level and continue to increase in scope through 5th grade, at which point students begin tackling challenges involving the greater Newman community. Learn more about Design Thinking here.
  • World Language

    The study of world languages at Newman reinforces the School’s mission to develop an appreciation for cultural differences and to engender in each student the skills, attitude, and character necessary for productive lifelong learning.

    In the Lower School, students have the opportunity to take either French or Spanish. The World Language Department stresses speaking skills from the very beginning. Culture is integrated into daily lessons so that students learn to understand and value differences and to develop a deep appreciation for other cultures.
  • Visual & Performing Arts

    The Lower School places a strong emphasis on the arts. We offer formal classes in music and the visual and performing arts, as well as myriad opportunities for artistic exploration outside of the classroom.

    Students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade attend music class twice a week, where they sing and play instruments to cultivate their musicianship. The Kodaly Concept informs most of the music curriculum at Newman, with five main aims: Empowering students to be stewards of their musical and cultural heritage, increasing their self-confidence with performance opportunities, honing critical thinking skills through music, molding students into creative human beings, and growing them into informed audience members.

    In fourth grade, all students choose to study a musical instrument, to sing in the chorus, or to study acting. With attention paid to fundamental concepts of intonation, sight singing, and vocal production, Newman has an award-winning band and chorus, a percussion ensemble, and an a cappella singing group.

    Throughout the Lower School, we strive to develop each student’s creativity through the visual arts. Each year, students use a variety of media – painting, print making, drawing, ceramics, and sculpture. Students meet and learn from visiting professional artists in the Reynolds Ryan Art Gallery. Students also collaborate with the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Contact Faculty & Staff

1903 Jefferson Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: 504.899.5641
Fax: 504.896.8597
Open 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday
An independent,
non-denominational day
school in New Orleans for
early childhood through 12th grade