Lower School Curriculum

Durham Academy Lower School — comprising grades 1 to 4 — seeks to provide students with a challenging environment for learning, while offering the care and attention that guide a child to success.

Faculty present opportunities that foster the joy of learning and allow for discovery as skills are practiced and refined in supportive surroundings that encourage independence and risk-taking. Curriculum content strikes a balance between relevance to the present world and ideas that look to a world beyond. Students use their imagination, think and explore, as well as exhibit what they learn. 

As we provide students with a stimulating academic environment, close attention is given to offering opportunities that will contribute to the development of a child’s character, personal identity, self-esteem and respect for others.


Our ultimate goal for our young readers is to guide them in creating a reading life of their own and to inspire them to become lifelong readers. We work to equip our young writers for a life of writing with confidence and proficiency. The Lower School reading specialist provides curriculum resources and support for the classroom teacher, as well as spends time in first- and second-grade classrooms to provide students with support in phonics and reading comprehension.


The Lower School uses the Bridges math curriculum; this program includes time each day for Problems and Investigations that are facilitated by the teacher with the entire class. There is also time each day for students to practice skills independently or in small groups in Work Places. Work Places is dedicated to teachers, teaching assistants, and at times, our math specialist working with children individually or in small groups. 

Social Studies/Unit Studies

As Lower Schoolers learn about the history, geography and culture of our local community, state, nation and world, we also work to instill lessons about personal leadership, independence and their roles as citizens — on local and global levels.  

Enrichment Classes

Enrichment classes in art, technology, drama, library, music, physical education and Spanish round out each child’s education experience by encompassing what is learned in the classroom, providing opportunities for students to express their individuality while developing competence and discovering personal interests.