Early Childhood – Two, three, and four-year-olds
The early childhood program at Wheeling Country Day School focuses on the child within the learner. It is an engaging centers-based curriculum that matches the way children develop and learn, meeting their personal learning needs in a hands-on and nurturing environment.
Children need time for fantasy and spontaneous play. Therefore, the classrooms invite pretending and storytelling, which provide the most fertile ground for language growth, both contextual and semantic.
In addition, the campus layout allows children to be active and to follow their natural sense of wonder. They play and learn in nature with found objects that inspire creativity.
Far from curriculum in a box, the program allows the teachers to take their cues from their students, and then actively guide and encourage their curiosity, intellectual strengths, and above-average skills.
All of the early childhood classes meet every week throughout the school year, We Two meets for a nine-week session every season. Preschool and Junior Kindergarten students may attend either a half-day program or an extended-day (ED) program.
Primary – Grades SK-2
Children in the primary grades at Wheeling Country Day School learn the basic skills to become independent, resourceful students. Reading, writing, and mathematical skills receive high priority. With the intimate classroom sizes, the teachers have the luxury of truly knowing their students’ strengths, learning styles, opportunities for growth, and personalities.
Activities and projects are chosen not only to teach the children to read and comprehend, but also to foster a love of reading. Students are introduced to a wide variety of genres on various reading levels. They are given the time to choose and explore books both from the classroom library and from their weekly visits to the library. In addition, children have access to other media: newspapers, magazines, and child-appropriate Web sites. The teachers in the primary division agree with the National Reading Panel that phonemic awareness and direct, systematic phonics instruction are necessary for the successful teaching of reading. However, they blend the phonics approach with multisensory methods and kinesthetic movement.
Although proper printing and cursive techniques are taught at the primary level, each student’s ability to put his/her thoughts into words is more highly valued. To that end, the teachers provide the students with a plethora of authentic writing opportunities from sentence completion to journal and list writing. The programs culminate in first grade with a teacher-guided research report and in second grade with creative writing presentations.
Mathematics is taught with concept mastery as the goal. To that end, the teachers introduce new topics with concrete manipulatives. Skills, such as the addition facts, are thoroughly explored with manipulatives before mastery of the facts is required.
Science is mostly hands-on and based on the scientific method skills of observing through the senses, making and testing hypotheses, and recording those results. Curiosity and problem-solving skills receive special attention.
The social studies program focuses on relationships and becoming good citizens of the many communities in which the children are involved. They are encouraged to “make good behavior choices.” Through role playing, they have the opportunity to work through difficult situations before they occur. The curriculum begins with self-awareness, progresses through families, and culminates in second grade with the study of communities.
Upper Elementary – Grades 3-5
Students in the upper elementary school at Wheeling Country Day are ready to work in a more independent way with careful guidance by their teachers.
Reading skills, comprehension, and vocabulary may be taught through novels and literature as well as traditional readers. English, spelling, and writing are integrated into the language arts curriculum. Students make weekly visits to the library to learn skills and take out books for enjoyment and reports. All students have the opportunity to write paragraphs and stories as well as factual reports and projects.
The mathematics curriculum follows a traditional text but is augmented by using manipulatives, games, and computer activities. With the school’s integrated curriculum, the students’ math abilities play a part in other subjects as they create charts and graphs both by hand and on the computer. Math centers in all the classrooms enhance students performance with both remedial and enrichment activities.
Social science is taught in all grades with an emphasis on understanding. Students study current events as well as history and geography as they learn to see the connections between the natural world, past events, and the development of civilizations. Field trips and special reports, including State Reports for third graders, Native American Culture Day for fourth graders, and World Culture Day for fifth graders, round out this curricular area.
Science may be integrated into other subjects or taught on its own, but it is an important part of the students’ school experience. Every science unit includes a hands-on facet. Again, field trips and guest speakers add to the students’ background and understanding. Keeping science journals helps third graders prepare for the more sophisticated requirements of upper elementary science projects. Fourth graders learn the scientific method by completing group science projects in school, guided by their teacher. The fifth graders are more independent in designing and completing their projects, but the teacher still supervises and consults on a regular basis. Because of the natural surroundings, students can study nature right on campus. The school is also in the process of constructing a community garden to provide a living context to the principles of science.
The teachers in the upper elementary department work closely together to help design and implement a flowing curriculum that meets the needs and goals of the students.
It’s Possible Here
Part of the core curriculum of a Wheeling Country Day School education focuses on creativity, communication, and collaboration, skills for the 21st century. To that end, the curriculum includes classes in foreign languages, physical education, and the arts, all of which meet three to five times a week. Along with weekly visits to the school’s library, this value added curriculum takes advantage of the opportune times for learning in a child’s development. These classes give students an opportunity to express themselves through pretending, playing, dancing, singing, acting, exercising, drawing, painting, and cooking.
By studying music, art, and drama, the students learn to value their own creativity as well as the efforts of others. They also learn to think in creative ways and to appreciate the mosaic of student friends. The students learn team building, cooperation, body awareness, and sports’ fundamentals in their physical education classes and before-school intramurals. The foreign language classes offer the opportunity to not only learn about other languages, but also other cultures, enabling the students to understand the varieties of ways that people live together in the global community. Wheeling Country Day School collaborates with community and regional resources to enhance each child’s classroom experience. Students of all ages benefit from field trips, guest speakers, and in-school programs such as Oglebay Institute’s drama curriculum. Wheeling Country Day School is also a proud partner-in-education with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
With the school’s emphasis on writing and performance skills, students learn to communicate their ideas in written works and to be at ease when speaking in front of others. They progress from dictating to their teachers in early childhood classes through composing journal entries and creative papers in the primary years to writing research reports as upper elementary students. They present as individuals and groups within their own classrooms and for school assemblies. All students perform in special programs such as the school’s annual Variety Show. These communication experiences culminate in all fifth graders authoring and presenting their own graduation speeches.
While encouraging character development in all aspects of school work, teachers focus on collaborative skills through the Cougar Coin Program. Students take ownership of their rights and responsibilities at the school and earn Cougar Coins for making appropriate choices. Teachers and staff members award the coins for behavior above and beyond what is already expected. Working together, students strive to acquire their goal number of Cougar Coins.
Wheeling Country Day School students enjoy an environment designed for learning. From water bottles on students’ desks to regular outdoor exercise to movement in the classroom, students are ready to learn in a Wheeling Country Day School classroom.