Academics » Academics

Academics

SPHDS Preschool

2 years - 5 years

8:30AM to 1:00PM or 4:00PM/ Extended Care Until 6:00PM
With our hands-on approach, our students learn to shape the world around them. The integrated Jewish and General Studies curriculum, with focus on play, allows the children to actively develop their Language Skills, Social Interaction, Separation, and Independence in a warm, nurturing environment.

Lower School

Lower School Academic Program (Kindergarten – 5th Grade)

Kindergarten to 5th grade is a time of significant language, intellectual, and social and emotional development in children. It is a time for children to explore and our lower school curriculum fosters intellectual growth through critical thinking, hands-on discovery, and creativity. Our students learn by doing. Therefore our teachers employ their creativity and form dynamic and ever-evolving hands-on learning labs which provide our children with a learning atmosphere to build skills and confidence.

We create and maintain a safe and nurturing environment in which academic, discovery and creativity can flourish. To support the different learners in the classroom our teachers embrace individual learning, small group instruction and meaningful activities, hands-on inquiry, peer review, and project-based learning. Our teachers are always committed to employing best practice in the classroom.

Hebrew

Hebrew is a defining component of our academics and our Hebrew program is recognized for its excellence. Our Hebrew program is divided into two tracks, dovrei Ivrit and dovrei Anglit. The dovrei Ivrit track is designed for native Israeli and advanced Hebrew speakers. The curriculum is imported from Israel’s Ministry of Education and, as a result, our student's learning is aligned to the corresponding grade level in Israel. Equally strong is our dovrei Anglit track. We employ Tal AM, which is an active, hands-on program designed to develop Hebrew language skills, reading, writing, spelling, and speaking Modern Hebrew. Our students are exposed to Israeli literature, music, and culture strengthening their connection to the State of Israel.

Judaic Studies

The Judaic Studies program introduces our children to their rich heritage, tradition, and Jewish values. Our program also emphasizes mitzvot and places special significance on chesed (acts of kindness) and tzedakah (charitable giving). Children are engaged in studying Jewish text written in biblical Hebrew. Each morning, our lower school students and their teachers gather and start the day with tefilla, Jewish prayer. A significant milestone for our first grade students is receiving their first Siddur in an evening ceremony in front of their family and friends. Toward the end of the year, our first grade students are introduced to the Chumash, and in second grade, they are presented with their own Chumash. With each year, students deepen their understanding and build their skills in Chumash. In fifth grade, students continue to develop their Chumash skills and have the choice to study either Navi or Mishna.

Five core components of the Judaic Studies program are Hebrew language acquisition, Tefilla (prayer), Chumash, Parashat HaShavua, and Laws and Customs. Skills, such as critical thinking and literacy, developed in these core areas are aligned to the California Common Core State Standards and reinforce success in the General Studies curriculum.

Hebrew Language is a vital and integral part of the Judaic Studies program. A heavy emphasis is placed on comprehension and analysis of texts written in biblical Hebrew. Oral Hebrew language is also developed through lively discussions in the classroom. 

Starting in kindergarten, students are introduced to Tefilla and with each year, students build on their base knowledge and are introduced to new Tefillot. For our young, emergent readers, Tefilla provides an opportunity to practice their Hebrew reading skills.

During Tefilla, students learn the meaning of our prayers. This core component instills confidence in our students so that they feel comfortable participating in prayers at any shul.

Learning the Chumash is central to our Judaic Studies program. Through the study of the Chumash, students gain a love of learning while critically analyzing the narrative, developing their biblical Hebrew vocabulary, and exploring moral and ethical issues through the lens of a Jewish framework.

Each week the Parashat HaShavua (Torah portion) is discussed in the classroom. Students are encouraged to share the Parsha with family and friends around the Shabbat table.

By studying customs and exploring primary sources and commentaries, students trace the evolution of Jewish Laws and Customs to deepen their understanding of traditions.

General Studies

We believe that reading and writing are the keys to unlocking the door to a child’s imagination. Therefore, our Language Arts curriculum focuses on reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. Our children are explicitly taught phonics to support decoding skills for reading and encoding skills for writing. We also employ a whole language approach to support literacy in our students. Students analyze the elements (themes, plots, characters, literary devices, tone, setting, narrative, and writing styles and patterns) of classic and contemporary literature. Teachers challenge students to compare and contrast literary elements and arguments presented in multiple texts. We believe that exposure to classic and contemporary literary works improves overall writing in students. SPHDS adopted Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study Writing Program from Columbia University Teachers’ College. This program is tailored to help students to develop as authors of informational, narrative, and opinion text. At every grade level, students practice and hone the mechanics and skills they need to grow as writers.

We have adopted the Ready Math program. This program is aligned to Common Core State Standards and is an adaptive curriculum designed to provide individualized and customizable instruction for students based on personal growth assessments. The adaptive assessments accurately identify students’ strengths and needs; supports data-driven differentiated instruction; and measures student growth through time. We integrate teacher-led math instruction with personalized iReady online learning, along with hands-on activities and games, so that math concepts and skills are developed in a variety of fun and engaging ways. A core component of our program is that students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. We expect our students to explain and justify their rationale and approach to mathematical thinking.

Our Social Studies program integrates geography, culture, governance, economics, world and American history with the primary goal to teach students to critically analyze historical events through multiple perspectives as well as to evaluate local, national and global issues. The Social Studies program shapes students identities. Our curriculum prepares students to be civic-minded individuals who can research issues and platforms to make informed decisions.

We believe that science is innately interesting, and our science curriculum allows students to explore science in meaningful, hands-on approach. Beginning in the first grade, our students investigate principles of physical science, Earth science, life science, and engineering by asking questions and constructing and testing their scientific ideas. Through hands-on experimentation and analysis, students actively engage in scientific inquiry and reasoning, which advances their conceptual understanding as well as critical thinking skills. Each year, the curriculum increases in complexity and sophistication, and students are challenged to think deeply about real-world problems.

 

Middle School

Middle School Academic Program (6th – 8th Grades)

Our middle school program is designed to engage students as independent learners in an increasingly sophisticated study of Hebrew, Judaic studies, Humanities, Mathematics, and Science. Our teachers facilitate classroom learning so students can develop ownership of their learning. Our middle school students become independent learners who can access and evaluate diverse curricular content. We provide each student with exemplary, standards-based curriculum in all disciplines. Critical thinking, creativity, and expression of ideas are distinctive threads woven into the fabric of middle school classes. Each middle school student is equipped with a device so he or she can meet the research demands of the rigorous program. Our program matches rigor with passion. We work with students to identify and hone their passions and talents. Students are exposed to electives such as newspaper, music, STEAM, and electrical engineering. The goals of the electives are to provide students with an opportunity to tinker with interdisciplinary ideas and to employ principles and skills learned in the classroom to complete an in-depth project.

In addition to fostering academic excellence, we work with students to build character, leadership skills, responsibility, and accountability. We strive to instill and model Jewish values by providing students with opportunities for community service projects. Through these projects, students learn the importance of giving back to their local community and they develop leadership and interpersonal skills. Within the school, we make time for our middle school students to teach younger students through our math and the reading buddies program.