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Elementary School

Throughout the elementary years at The Center, we strive to create an environment that balances a wide variety of experiences and approaches to learning. Beginning in our full-day kindergarten program and continuing through sixth grade, our focus is on addressing different learning styles and developing collaborative, critical thinking and problem -solving skills.

Our Elementary School Program

Team Teaching

Each elementary classroom has two credentialed teachers. Both teachers take responsibility for managing, planning and sharing the instruction of all of their students. This team teaching model allows the children to have the opportunity to bond with two caring and highly skilled professionals throughout each elementary school year. It allows the teachers to work with children in a ratio of 15:1 as they implement their academic lessons.

In Kindergarten there are two additional assistant teachers working with the children. The sixth grade program is structured differently as it is departmentalized among the four core subjects, providing these children with a transitional program from a self-contained elementary classroom to a middle school departmentalized program.

Core Subjects

The core subjects of language arts, math, and social studies are taught by the two team teachers in each self contained elementary classroom. Science, also a core subject in the upper elementary grades, is taught by our two science specialists in a laboratory setting.

Language Arts


From “learning to read” to “reading to learn", the literacy foundation that our students build and build upon spans throughout their elementary school years. In grades K-3, we use a balanced literacy approach, giving students multiple opportunities for authentic reading on a daily basis, coupled with explicit instruction in reading strategies. This extends into the Upper Elementary grades, where novels are the backbone of the reading curriculum. All along the way, children are making connections, drawing comparisons, and gaining meaning from what they read.


Writing spans all areas of the curriculum and therefore we want our students to be able to express themselves in writing as successfully as they can express themselves orally. Children employ the writing process as they learn how to organize their thoughts in creative and expository writing, from poetry and persuasive essays to science lab journal entries and word problem explanations.


We want our students to develop a conceptual understanding of mathematics as well as the ability to compute accurately. We emphasize problem solving skills and encourage our students to be aware of the many applications of mathematics in their daily lives. We currently use the Singapore math-based program, Math in Focus in grades 1-5 and the Prentice Hall math curriculum is used in grade 6.

Social Studies

Our social studies curriculum integrates many strands such as history, geography, current events, anthropology, and economics. It is a project-oriented curriculum in which students work individually as well as with partners or small cooperative groups of classmates. Students learn how to use a social studies textbook in grades 4-6.


Science at The Center focuses on the scientific processes in ways that are developmentally appropriate for students from Kindergarten through grade six. Students learn to make careful observations, develop predictions, collect data, and then draw conclusions based on their data.

Special Subjects

Art, music, physical education, library, computer science and learning resources are subjects that address the interests of individual students as well as the broad competency that distinguishes the well-rounded individual.

Learn more on our Specialists page

Character Education

All members of the Center community - students, parents, faculty, and Board members - sign covenants stating that they will support the values that build the foundation for Character Education. All commit to promoting the school's core values of caring, responsibility, inclusion, and honesty.


In order to provide our students with a meaningful cross-age experience, elementary students are divided into 26 "families." Each family is comprised of at least two children from each grade level. Although every family is facilitated by a faculty or staff member, sixth grade students are given leadership roles within their families. These groups meet approximately six times a year and participate in activities such as writing letters to Veterans, playing games, and sharing ideas about conflict resolution strategies, friendship, and family rituals.

Community Service

Each elementary classroom selects two children to participate in a two-month community service project. Every student has the opportunity to serve a community service representative two or three times during their elementary years. There are five Community Service trips every year, and the representatives plan, participate in, and reflect on their shared experiences. These include playing with children at the Blind Childrens' Center, helping to collect food for the SOVA food pantry, and visiting the Santa Monica Ocean Discovery Center.

Service Learning

Service learning is woven throughout our curriculum and into experiences outside the classroom, many of which call on children of different ages to work together.

Our youngest students begin to feel their impact on our community: Toddlers through EC2 students come together each month to make soup and bake for the homeless. They delight in fathering ingredients from their edible gardens. In addition, EC2 students take community walks to pick up litter throughout the year.

In the elementary school, Kindergarten and 3rd grade collaborate around issues of conservation and the environment, while 2nd and 5th graders focus their efforts on hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Science classes emphasize sustainability at all grade levels, and 4th graders tackle literacy as a service learning focus.

Our 6th grade leaders have a weekly work service experience where they go into a Center classroom to help the teachers and work with the students. They empty all of our school's recycling bins twice a week and they teach our students about the importance of recycling. They help lead their Family's activities and they strive to be positive role models for the entire student body.

All Center students, EC2-sixth grade make sandwiches for the homeless on a weekly basis.

Home-School Partnership

The home-school partnership is about finding ways for families and the school to join hands in doing what is best for each child. The school and the Parent Association offer a variety of opportunities that can support parenting and keep the lines of communication open between the school and the family.

  • Back-to-school Night and Open House
  • Parent-Teacher conferences
  • Developmental evenings
  • Parent Association-sponsored speakers and discussions
  • Newsletter and other electronic communications
  • Website

Standardized Testing

In the spring of each year, second through sixth grade students take a series of standardized tests called the CTP4 that are published by the Educational Records Bureau. These tests include a Verbal Reasoning and a Quantitative Reasoning Test for grades 3-6 as well as the following achievement tests: Word Analysis (Grade 2), Auditory Comprehension (Grades 2-3), Reading Comprehension (Grades 2-6), Writing Mechanics (Grades 2-6), Math Achievement (Grades 2-6), Writing Concepts & Skills (Grades 3-6), and Vocabulary (Grades 4-6).

Providing National Norms as well as Independent School Norms, these tests provide the school with valuable information about every student, as well as a means to assess our curriculum, as we can observe how our students are performing compared to other independent school students from across the country. The test results provide helpful information to our parents so that they can begin to assess how their child performs on a rigorous standardized test. Finally, the tests provide the students with valuable practice at taking standardized tests as they learn how to pace themselves on timed tests and how to apply test taking strategies such as using the process of elimination.