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A Purposefully Selective Curriculum

Literature • Language Arts • History • Mathematics • Science

At LePort, our goal is not just to churn out erudite scholars who may happen to excel academically, but are otherwise inefficacious and unhappy. Our goal is to enable our students to develop themselves into high-minded individuals, individuals armed with the abstract knowledge, thinking skills, character traits and practical life skills that they need to become mature, capable and happy adults.

When faced with the question, “What should we teach?”, we realized that if our goal is to help our students become successful adults, and not merely academicians, some knowledge and skills are more fundamental to this goal than others. The tree of knowledge has a trunk, and it has many branches, leaves, and flowers. When deciding what to include in our curriculum, we hold that it’s the trunk that is the key—because it is what makes the rest possible. If a student has the trunk, a strong foundation in core academic content and core thinking skills, then the branches, leaves, and flowers—the child’s interests, hobbies, activities, forays into specialized knowledge and specialized skills—will naturally grow and extend upwards.

Our core curriculum focuses on language arts, and on five essential subject areas: literature, history & geography, mathematics and science.

Literature: contemplating what could be

Reading great literature gives children the opportunity to enter exciting worlds, to meet heroic characters, and to consider what’s possible in life. While studying the classics of yesterday and today, students not only improve their thinking and communication skills, but also learn important moral lessons, lessons they can use to guide their own choices. Our students learn about independence from To Kill a Mockingbird, integrity from Antigone, and heroic perseverance from The Miracle Worker. We don’t belittle our student’s intelligence by using basal readers (collections of excerpts of novels), which would rob them of the joy of reading a whole work (it is like watching just 15 minutes of your favorite movie!) We take care to choose great works of art with universally relevant conflicts and meaningful themes, works that will deepen our students’ understanding of history, our world, and other people, works that dramatize the fact that one’s choices in life have consequences, all while elevating their skill levels and broadening their interests.

Curriculum Overview

Pre-School (Age: 3-6 years) Grades 1-3 (Age: 6-9 years) Grades 4-8 (Age: 9-14 years)
Language Arts Learning to read and to hand-write in neat cursive Master reading for meaning; spelling mastery; learning basics of writing multi-paragraph stories and descriptions Become clear, concise writers and speakers; with full command of English spelling and grammar and a broad, deep, actively used vocabulary
Literature Listen to stories and answer comprehension questions; begin to read children's picture books for pleasure Enjoy reading chapter books for pleasure and begin discussing plots, characters and simple themes Become competent, eager readers of great literary works– able to understand and contrast plot, characters and themes across a wide range of novels, plays and poetry, and to apply them to their own lives
Mathematics Count and perform arithmetic into the thousands Master long division & multiplication into the millions, moving from concrete manipulatives to pencil & paper calculations; master multiplication tables; apply operations with decimals and fractions Progress from concretes to abstractions in the key areas of arithmetic, mathematical notations, measurements, pre-algebra/algebra, geometry, and graphs/statistics.
Science Learn basic vocabulary - e.g., parts of plants and animals, classification of animals and plants– and skills (pouring, measuring, careful observing of characteristics such as roughness, color, texture) Gain broad observational knowledge of the world and corresponding vocabulary – from basic materials to plants and animals; from simple machines, light and magnets to constellations and planets Classify and categorize observations in all sciences; begin integrating into first-level theories (e.g., helio-centric universe and understanding of human and animal anatomy)
History & Geography Learn to tell time and understand maps; become aware of differences in cultures through holiday celebrations and other concrete experiences Understand historical time lines. Be able to describe how humans have satisfied their fundamental needs across times and cultures. Know major geographic features of California, US and all continents. Complete a full chronological study from ancient to modern history. Understand and describe the evidence for the essential nature of different civilizations. Relate lessons to own life and today's world.

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