Grammar School

Your child begins the learning journey with wonder.

Pre-K through grade 4

Instructional methods in the grammar school include direct instruction, memorization, and a variety of multi-sensory approaches to reading and arithmetic.  Phonics as a pathway to reading is exclusively employed and English grammar with early Latin instruction creates a foundation in language arts.   English grammar is taught through oral and written diagramming of sentences.  

New Covenant kindergarten is a “reading-readiness” year; all New Covenant students begin reading with basic fluency by October of the first-grade year.  Basic arithmetic and math skills begin in kindergarten with incremental progress and looping review built in.  Overall, the emphasis is on the mastery of basic skills in the context of a teacher-centered classroom, and our curricular choices reflect this emphasis.

New Covenant teaches reading through the program, The Writing Road to Reading, published by the Spalding Foundation. Sometimes known as Spalding Phonics, the program was developed by linguist Romalda Spalding in the mid-20th century. 

Spalding phonics breaks down the English language into 72 sounds, called phonograms.  Of these 56 are taught to mastery in kindergarten with basic word formation and spelling.  The remaining phonograms are mastered in the first grade where students achieve reading fluency.  Students learn the twenty nine spelling rules of the English language inductively, that is, as they discover the rules in the words they are building. Consequently, students not only become good spellers, but they learn the underlying rules that govern words in the English languages.  

Spalding Phonics is intensively taught through grade four.  The program also incorporates strict writing technique with a emphasis on manuscript writing.  In third grade, students are taught cursive.  

One of the most distinctive parts of a classical education is the early introduction of language.  At New Covenant, this means instruction in Latin beginning in kindergarten.  Lessons through grade 2 are oral with an emphasis upon vocabulary acquisition and simple conjugations. 

In third grade students see Latin in print for the first time, and begin systematic study of vocabulary, roots, nouns and verbs.  By middle school English grammar and Latin are taught side by side in the same class. 

Developed by New Covenant Schools more than 25 years ago, the History time-line consists of nearly 100 dates from every century of recorded human history.

Students begin learning the dates in kindergarten through group recitation.  They continue to mastery with regular review through grade 4. 

Presented with a strong visual component, each date is a “peg” upon which future information can be built.  In this way students have historical context and “date awareness,” and are quickly able to locate themselves in any future course of study in the social sciences.

New Covenant takes a traditional path through the discipline of mathematics, beginning by building number sense and basic concepts through hands-on experiences, learning addition, subtraction, multiplication facts by heart, and constantly applying and reapplying both concepts and facts in new situations.  The math program yields students who are able to use concepts and facts to solve a variety of problems in class and in the real world.  The curriculum we’ve chosen is Saxon Math.

The arts are not optional at New Covenant.  They are central.  Our mission includes teaching students about what is good and beautiful, giving them a taste for what to love.  Art and music classes in the Grammar School begin with this end in mind. Grammar school art classes introduce students to the work of artists across the span of history.  These masterworks display a variety of techniques and inspire appreciation.  Students create their own works in response, using a wide variety of media, from paper and pencil to textiles and clay.  Children display their work each spring at the Art Fair. Music classes in grammar school are active and often a little noisy.  Children enjoy singing and moving with simple songs that teach basic music theory, playing rhythm instruments and recorders, and listening attentively to works from great compositional masters. In fourth grade, they choose to play in band or string orchestra, to develop skill with one instrument.  Students delight us with musical presentations at Christmas and in the spring.

Science classes in the Grammar School are designed to meet two types of goals; while students learn basic information about the world and begin to acquire the thinking skills of scientists, they also grow in appreciation for our created universe.  Nancy Larson Science is the curriculum we have chosen. It builds a foundation of knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry and earth science through engaging studies of a wide variety of topics in grades K-4 such as Animals and their Habitats, Observing Trees, Life Cycles of Insects, Investigating Electricity, and Exploring Energy.  Students particularly enjoy guest presentations from doctors and dentists (K),  visiting the orchard (1st) and  Natural Bridge (3rd), making volcanoes (2nd) and dissecting owl pellets (4th).

Situated in the heart of the city, New Covenant occupies a 50-acre campus, of which 27 acres is 100-year old hardwood forest.  Nature trails, outdoor classrooms and the Gryphon Garden provide plenty of space to be outside.  Students across the grades spend time in the garden at New Covenant, getting their hands dirty, of course, but also using the garden as an outdoor classroom observing, listening to Master Gardeners, and even sketching the kinds of thing that they can grow.  With fruit trees, berries, and seasonal vegetables, the garden provides hours of outdoor activity and enrichment.

Pre-K Program Disclosures

New Covenant Schools Pre-K program is exempt from licensure by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

New Covenant Schools Pre-K program is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations relating to food services, health and sanitation, water supply, building codes, the Statewide Fire Prevention Code or the Uniform Statewide Building Code.

The maximum capacity of New Covenant Schools Pre-K is 30 students, with a ratio of no more than 12 students to one teacher.  Staff members are required to be certified by a physician as capable of supervising children.

The School maintains public liability insurance through the Philadelphia Insurance Company.

Click here for the  2020-21 Pre-K Staff List  and credentials.