Cultivating the Life of the Mind
True engagement in learning occurs when young people are challenged to take intellectual risks. At Country Day, we promote independent thinking and academic initiative in a carefully designed program that guides students in making the transition from the Lower School to the Middle and Upper School.
Our unique focus on students in nursery through ninth grade allows us to give our full attention to these formative years. Country Day provides a broad foundation in all academic areas, emphasizing public speaking skills, study skills, and writing skills, as well as 21st century skills such as collaboration and problem solving.
Nursery - Grade 3
The Lower School program fosters the social and emotional growth of children while stressing the development of rigorous academic skills. We emphasize a developmental approach to learning that encourages students to make discoveries on their own and allows teachers to tailor instruction to each child’s needs.
With two teachers in each Lower School classroom, students receive a great deal of individual attention and small group support. This dedicated instruction gives students the confidence to master basic skills and progress to higher levels of learning.
An integrated curriculum, linking study in different subjects around common themes, helps students make connections between disciplines and apply what they have learned in new situations.
Spanish classes begin in kindergarten, reflecting our belief in the importance of world language instruction starting at an early age. Students leave the classroom for science instruction with a specialist beginning in first grade. In addition, Lower School students attend special classes in music, art, computer, and physical education, and spend designated time in the library each week.
Grades 4 - 6
In the Middle School years, students are guided in taking on more responsibility for their studies through a comprehensive program that encourages them to pursue their talents and interests and master new areas of knowledge. A curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary studies and hands-on learning gives students a strong foundation in academics and study skills.
Fourth and fifth graders continue to be based in a homeroom with a homeroom teacher, though they become more independent as they move around campus for special subjects and manage their daily schedules. Sixth graders no longer have a self-contained classroom, but divide their time between a homeroom base and classes with teachers who are members of the different academic departments.
Through these carefully designed transitions, students learn to assume greater initiative in their studies and are prepared for the challenges of the Upper School. Beginning in grade 6, students choose from Spanish, French, Latin, or Mandarin Chinese for their world language study.
Grades 7 - 9
The Upper School years, the capstone of the Country Day educational experience, give students the opportunity to stretch their understanding of themselves and others in a demanding scholastic program that requires greater independence and responsibility. Upper School students serve as role models for younger students and provide leadership for clubs and extracurricular activities.
The confidence Country Day students gain in these years serves them well when they go on to secondary school and college. The Upper School curriculum stresses critical thinking, debate and discussion, strong writing and speaking skills, and independent research.
Through the advising system, students meet regularly with their faculty advisors for guidance with academic and personal issues. Advisors help students to manage the more complex schedules of the Upper School and to make prudent choices in academics. Students receive additional guidance and enrichment through the writing and math labs, open to interested students throughout the day. The popular labs give students a place to work specifically on writing and math skills under the direction of skilled teachers.
Since 1931, Country Day has maintained a tradition of excellence in public speaking through its declamation program. Hailed by graduates as one of the greatest gifts of their GCDS experience, our public speaking program gives students many opportunities for presentations in a public forum. From the early grades, students become accustomed to giving speeches and acting in plays, performing for audiences of peers and parents.
The public speaking program promotes poise and confidence, developing skills in public presentation that graduates will draw on throughout their academic and professional careers. In the Lower School, students regularly memorize poetry and other pieces to present to their class and participate in a class play each year. Middle School students memorize selections to present to their class, with the finalists chosen to give presentations in assembly. In the Upper School, declamations last up to five minutes in length, and finalists from each class recite their work in assembly.
The comprehensive science program at Country Day takes a sequenced approach, starting in pre-kindergarten and continuing through grade 9. Classes are laboratory-based throughout the grades, involving students in hands-on exploration and experimentation that give them the experience of testing theories and evaluating data as scientists do.
Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten work with a science educator in the classroom. In grades 1-3, students take science classes in the Science House, a separate facility featuring birds, turtles, snakes, and a beloved chinchilla. We offer our youngest students many opportunities to observe the natural world, building a foundation in science skills for the Middle and Upper Schools, where classes engage students in increasingly sophisticated lab work.
Leadership in Technology
The Greenwich Country Day School has taken a leading role in implementing technology in the classroom, using the latest innovations to provide students with an education that fully engages and challenges them.
Classrooms in grades 1 through 9 are equipped with SmartBoards that can be linked to the computer to allow a wide range of interactive activities. Our teachers, carefully trained in the application of this technology, incorporate it into lessons and research projects, enriching the learning experience and ensuring that students become both skilled and discerning in their use of computer resources.
In the Upper School, students use tablet laptop computers for coursework and research. In addition to technology skills, we teach students responsible use of the Internet. In the level of technological resources available for our students and teachers, and in the seamless integration of technology into the curriculum, Country Day offers a program that is more sophisticated than those at many secondary schools and colleges.
We are committed to continuing to be a leader in using technology as an educational tool that supports our tradition of excellence in academics.
Nursery - Grade 3
Engaging and imaginative, the Lower School program accelerates student learning by cultivating their natural curiosity.
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Grades 4 - 6
The Middle School curriculum is carefully calibrated to provide a series of incremental challenges that spark intellectual growth and build confidence.
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Grades 7 - 9
The focus of Upper School academics is rigorous preparation for high school, college, and beyond. Learn more >