Grammar School Distinctives
- Copy Books
- Living Books
- Nature Journals
- Picture & Composer Studies
- Music, Band & Choir, PE
Copy BooksK-3 students produce copybooks that provide on-going practice for handwriting, spelling, grammar, etc. These copybooks are kept specifically for copying noteworthy poems, prose, quotes, historical facts and information that touch on the theme being studied by the class. Students in grades 4 &5 use copybooks to express their understanding of the historical periods they have been studying. Included in the copybooks would be students’ narrations of research they have done on the historical period. The content of copybooks is not exclusive to history; the disciplines of literature, geography, science, and language arts are also included. Copybooks are student productions by which the teacher assesses students’ assimilation of knowledge.
LatinBeginning in Grade Three all students study Latin for approximately 90 minutes each week. Students learn Latin spellings, vocabulary, grammatical structures, classical Latin pronunciations, and English derivatives. Living ideas in Latin are memorized and reflected upon. Latin is a root language for English and other languages, and studying it greatly enhances vocabulary and comprehension skills. It is simple, logical and consistent; therefore, Latin students more easily grasp the grammatical structure of English and the foundation is laid for other language study. Latin is and has been a means of expressing many significant theological ideas in the Christian church. Therefore, it is a language worthy of being placed in the classical curriculum.
Living BooksLiving books are the opposite of dull, dry textbooks. They are books which are excellently written, timeless, wide-ranging, and interest-holding to children. People, places and events come alive as one reads a living book. The story and the noble themes presented in the book touch one’s mind, will, and emotions and are used along with the Scriptures by the teacher to stimulate imagination and obedience to the truth. PRCA advocates avoiding “twaddle,” or dumbed-down literature. We choose, rather, to provide a feast for children’s minds of the best literary works available.
Nature JournalsNature journals are artist sketchbooks containing pictures the children have personally drawn of plants, wildlife or any other natural objects found in their natural setting. These journals can also include nature-related poetry, prose, detailed descriptions, weather notes, Latin names, etc. In addition, we believe in the benefits of children taking nature walks, perhaps one per week, during which they may experience and observe the natural environment firsthand. These excursions are nature “walks,” not nature “talks.” These activities generate the right attitude of mind for scientific observations and inferences, and foster a sense of awe and wonder for all things created.
Picture & Composer StudiesThe Grammar School structures its program to bring the child into direct contact with works of art and music of enduring quality. Students spend approximately 15 minutes per week studying a work of art by a great artist. The child looks at the work of art intently for a short period of time and is encouraged to look for every detail. The picture is taken away, and the student tells back what he saw in the picture. A similar methodology is undertaken as the school studies significant musicians and their works. Through exposure to selected works of art and music, students develop an understanding of things that are worthy and timeless, and they build a mental inventory of many great works through the ages.
Music, Band & Choir, PEStudents in Grades K-4 are also provided instruction in basic music theory, singing and an introduction to the recorder, a basic wind instrument. Additionally, there are opportunities for Grade 5 students to participate in band and vocal choir. Students also participate in Physical Education.
ArtIn addition to picture studies, students participate in formal art class once a week. To begin, the focus is on drawing and elements of art such as visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. Later, students learn about, discuss, and implement principles of design in their artwork and throughout the year are exposed to a wide variety of media and methods. There is also an emphasis on connecting student art to classroom subjects such as history, math, and bible. The culminating event for students is the displays of art at year-end events such as the Shakespeare Festival and the ACSI Art Festival.
RecitationsTaking advantage of the predilection of young children for mimicry and repetition, we provide the opportunity for our elementary students to commit to memory passages and poems of lasting value. Chosen from the best of the Western canon, the selections in Grades Four and Five correlate to the time periods being studied in history. The full Book of Recitations is available for review in the school office.
IntergrationWhen Christian schools speak of integration, we are often talking about the infusion of Biblical wisdom into all the subject areas that we teach. Although we do have distinct Bible classes, we also reference scriptural facts and principles in every academic area. PRCA teachers have been in workshops through a variety of sources in how to do this, including our own Continuing Education classes taught right here on our campus. Paraphrasing nineteenth century British educator, Miss Charlotte Mason, our founding headmaster Jack Beckman once wrote, “…we mean that the child has been born in a natural relationship with many things: people, God, objects, animals, nature, etc. Learning then becomes the art (and science) of making connections between those things that have meaning, whether in literature, mathematics, writing, music, or art, to name several.” A great example of subject matter and Biblical integration would be our Shakespeare Festival, which integrates Biblical themes of good and evil in a Christian cultural context with literary devices, historical allusions, visual art in both costuming and stage décor, period background music, and oratorical skills with stagecraft.