English is taught as an integrated, multi-faceted subject, in order to cover the special skills of and various aspects of English.
St. John’s regards reading as a most vital basic subject. Formal instruction begins in Form I and continues through the Lower School, as it is our goal to have students reading independently as soon as possible and, through our developmental reading program, to develop the highest possible reading levels. Phonics is an essential building block for reading and spelling.
Work in literature begins as soon as the child enters St. John’s. In Form III (1st grade), the course introduces the student to stories of timeless characters; evaluative discussion and some writing about the concepts are involved. In Forms IV – VI (2nd through 4th grades), the course is more formal and includes writing dealing with themes, ideas and symbols. Students will gain an understanding of our literary heritage while at St. John’s.
Grammar is to formal composition what phonics is to reading and spelling. The purpose of this course is to provide the students with a thorough working knowledge of the structure of the language.
Formal composition is emphasized, alongside the informal writing down of a stream of thoughts and ideas in journal format. Beginning in Form V (3rd grade), the stress is on expository writing – the sort of writing required in the courses the students will frequently encounter in secondary school and college.
Computation and concepts are emphasized in all Forms. A great amount of practice is also implemented to make basic concepts and methods second nature for students. This practice includes the fun “Math Facts in a Flash” online program. Students graduating from St. John’s will have covered Honors Algebra I or Honors Geometry, and secondary schools give credit for these courses to our higher-scoring students.
Form V (3rd grade) studies Florida History and Geography, as a history-geography course, as well as as a further opportunity to work on reading comprehension in a different context.
History as a specific course begins in Form VI (4th grade), where students study American History. This course begins with the early settlers and ends with the Reagan Era.
Classroom experiments, problem-solving techniques, increasing integration with mathematics, and a “hands-on” learning approach at the Lower School prepare students for future challenges in the sciences. Critical thinking skills are stressed and use of the scientific method is introduced through fun experiments from handwriting and fingerprint analysis to the creation of “tornadoes in a bottle.”
Spanish is taught to all students in Forms I – VI (K4 through 4th grade). The program introduces basic linguistic structures, creating an “ear” and a love for the language. A continuously growing vocabulary in Spanish comes through themes, greetings, numbers, colors, clothing, classroom objects, weather, holidays, and the alphabet. Grammar, initially contained in conversational patterns, becomes increasingly evident to students. Hispanic culture and customs are learned through speaking, reading and writing. Reinforcement of spoken Spanish is accomplished through songs and music, puppets, games, stories, and dramatizations.
Divinity classes are offered to all students, regardless of the nature of their personal religious faith. Christ’s two great commandments are central to the curriculum throughout all grade levels: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself.” All students participate in outreach projects each year that allow them to live out these commandments.
The Lower School Divinity program focuses on an appreciation for God’s presence in the world and in our lives. Children are instructed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, Bible stories, the meaning of the seasons and the holy days in the calendar of the Church, the use of The Episcopal Hymnal and The Book of Common Prayer in worship, and the elements of the Holy Eucharist. In all Forms, we explore the role of Christian ethics and morals in shaping our lives.
Computer classes are a progressive development of computer knowledge and skills. The goals are to increase general understanding on how to produce work using a computer and other current technologies in such a way as to enhance their use for other classes. The technology objective identifies the essential knowledge and skills that all students need to be active and lifelong learners in a technology intensive environment. Technology is changing rapidly and the curriculum is designed to form the foundation for continuous learning in an ever-changing world.
In their Physical Education classes, Lower School students learn basic concepts of cooperative learning, fitness, and sports. Yearly advances in skills and stamina prepare students for the Middle School program and – for some – participation in after-school athletic teams. For all students, personal fitness, sportsmanship, team work, and leadership are important elements of development. All students in our Lower and Middle Schools participate in the Presidential Physical Fitness program.
This program provides studio art guidance and instruction to students throughout the School, including a variety of appropriate artistic media suited to each campus. For all St. John’s students, systematic exposure to art created throughout the ages will provide an important dimension of cultural knowledge and sensitivity. Art studies will help them to understand how the artistic legacies of earlier ages are reflected in more recent art, how they can enrich their own creative efforts, and how art reflects and even helps to shape the history of nations and cultures.
The St. John’s music program encourages students to become musically knowledgeable. Students study composers, practice composition, play recorders, and learn to appreciate a variety of music.