Lower School (Grades 1-5)

Guiding students to become effective learners.

Carroll's Lower School provides a robust elementary curriculum with tailored academic support. The program is ideal for smart students who struggle with the basic skills of reading, such as difficulty making the connection between the letters on a page and the sounds they make in a word. Our educators recognize that every student has a unique learning profile, and design their curricula to nourish the skills needed to become an effective learner.

Carroll School Curriculum

The driving emphasis in the Carroll School curriculum is delivering what each child most needs. This means that the classroom experiences are tailored specifically to meet the needs of each child. Given our small classes and tutorials, achieving this lofty goal is actually possible. Unlike traditional schools where a prescribed curriculum defines what happens in the classroom, Carroll’s curriculum emphasizes the skill development and learning strategies that each child needs to acquire and pays close attention to the grade-level content delivered in public and other independent schools. Learn about our Curriculum Guiding Principles

Curricula Areas

Click on the specific curricula areas below to discover how this guiding philosophy works in Lower School classrooms:

Language Arts & Tutoring

Our teachers and tutors support your child with one-to-one, as well as small group, reading instruction towards a shared goal -- to teach children to read effectively and efficiently. Using an individualized and multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham approach, students learn the structure of words so they can master decoding, reading fluency, comprehension, and written expression.

During tutoring sessions, students receive individualized, sequential instruction with specific focus on reading skills (decoding) and spelling skills (encoding). Language classes enhance these as students work to understand sentence & paragraph structure and improve sequencing, classification, active listening, vocabulary, handwriting, and beginning text writing.

As your child’s decoding level improves and approaches or exceeds grade level, emphasis on reading fluency, reading comprehension, written expression, and the writing process increases.


Created by Dr. Maryanne Wolf at Tufts University, RAVE-O stands for Reading with Retrieval, Automaticity, Vocabulary, Engagement, and Orthography. In common terms, it’s how we help students understand what they are reading. By repeated exposure to the most common words and patterns in the English language, children learn how to read with understanding and meaning.


Our math curriculum is designed to teach students how to think and work fluently. That means we emphasize number sense, problem solving, and visual representation over rote memorization.

In the Lower School, children are organized into small instructional groups that are carefully selected to meet their specific needs. To empower students to grow their mathematical intuitions, we follow these 8 practice standards:

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  2. Contextualize and de-contextualize mathematical situations
  3. Justify and communicate one’s reasoning and respond to the arguments of others
  4. Apply math to solve real world problems
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically
  6. Communicate precisely
  7. Look for and make use of patterns and structure
  8. Look for general methods and shortcuts

Our mathematics content is guided by the Common Core Curriculum Frameworks for each grade.

Social Studies

We aim to help students understand and connect to the people and the world around them, in a present and historical context. Using history and social studies as a backdrop, our teachers lead projects and activities that allow students to practice language, comprehension, vocabulary, written expression, and mapping and organizational skills.

With this approach, children benefit from additional language instruction as they study geography, culture, environment, world history, government, and more.


In science, students are encouraged to be curious, to make and test hypotheses, and to think creatively. Children engage in and make observations through hands-on, multi-sensory, and exploratory science activities.

Our youngest students practice making predictions and communicating ideas using their senses to describe life, physical, and earth sciences. As their observational and thinking skills become refined, students in 4th and 5th grade work to deepen their process skills through more complex investigations of simple machines, astronomy, life cycles, energy, pendulums, the food chain, and more.

Cognitive Development

We’ve discovered that helping students with key cognitive skills directly impacts their ability to read, comprehend, write, and problem solve.

Carroll's Cognitive Development program uses two distinct, but highly complementary, approaches to strengthening the underlying learning skills of each student and create better learners:

(a) Foundational Cognitive Development program is a hands-on, developmental approach to building the cognitive skills which facilitate academic growth. The foundational program targets development in the following cognitive domains: logical reasoning, gross motor coordination, and visual thinking. The goals of the foundational program are two-fold: to identify and address cognitive domains of need for each student, and to foster independent thinking and problem-solving in how the student approaches their work.

(b) In the Targeted Cognitive Intervention (TCI) program, cognitive profiles reveal where learning weaknesses exist and directly target those underlying deficits in areas such as reaction time, processing speed, visual working memory, verbal working memory, and many forms of executive function.

Learn more about how TCI works ...

Flex Block - Focus Areas

At Carroll, we hand craft each student’s schedule to give that child what they most need.

During flex block:

  • BR-2 students work on community building and readiness skills.
  • Grade 3 students work on applying readiness and collaboration skills within the context of project-based learning using history content as the guide.
  • Grades 4-5 students are placed in a learning environment that custom targets an academic or cognitive area needing more focus - be it reading, math, speech, response time, executive function, social skills, etc. Students are constantly assessed to track progress in their assigned focus area and are adjusted accordingly.

Art, Music, PE & Bounders

Children with dyslexia often have prolific talents. We celebrate the dyslexic advantage by giving children opportunities to embrace their strengths through art, music, movement, and outdoor education.

(a) The Studio Arts program is designed to foster self-expression, self-confidence, and lifelong curiosity by building skills, tool technique, and concepts through a wide variety of artistic media.

(b) The Music program develops students’ musical skill set, self-confidence, and a positive association with music through instruments, movement activities, improv, and simply musical compositions.

(c) The Physical Education program promotes students’ gross motor skills, aerobic fitness, body strength, flexibility and eye hand/foot coordination.

(d) The Bounders outdoor education program challenges students in an energetic, non-competitive setting to take risks, cooperate within a group, and trust others towards the goal of developing self-reliance and an appreciation for the natural world.

Library & Technology


The Library Media Commons is a gathering place for students, faculty, and staff. Students have a weekly library class built into their schedule where they learn to appreciate books and how to research and identify reliable information (print & electronic). With guidance from our library media specialist, students are encouraged to use resources for class work, independent reading, and fun.


We believe that technology, when used appropriately, can bolster learning. At Carroll, children learn how computers, tablets, apps, and the internet can positively support their education.

In the Lower School, all students are assigned an individual iPad or Chromebook to use during the school day. Our Educational Technology team hand selects grade-appropriate resources and tools that best meets the needs of each student, teacher, classroom, and project. Likewise, teachers are encouraged and trained to use technology that supports, not replaces, learning.

Technology is always used under close supervision from a teacher and is intended to be another engaging tool through which children can learn and begin to build 21st century skills.

Whole Child

We believe that a commitment to a child’s healthy social and emotional well-being goes hand-in-hand with academic success.

At the Lower School, teachers employ Responsive Classroom activities to create positive, healthy, and emotionally-secure learning environments - and happy, confident kids. We also help students make inclusive and positive connections through community service, talent showcases, recess, spirit days, our annual Fall Festival, and so much more.

Student Life at the Lower School

Scroll through the slideshow below to get a glimpse of a day in grades 1-5. Learn more about Student Life at Carroll

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