Lower School Curriculum

The nurturing environment in the lower grades prepares our students for a lifetime of learning and success. With the warm, caring guidance of our lower school faculty and administration, students learn to organize, prioritize, and manage their own learning. They begin to develop the core academic skills in Torah learning, literacy, numeracy, science, technology, and the arts that will serve as the foundation for advanced studies as they grow.



Literacy Skills

Solid literacy skills are the foundation of learning. Our Language Arts / Literacy curriculum is designed to ensure that our students have well-developed strategies for decoding and spelling which lead to fluent reading and accurate comprehension. We want our students to read for pleasure and to recognize who they are as readers. We use a research-based, multi-sensory, direct-instruction approach to teaching reading in grades one and two called PAF. This program uses a sequential framework of skills and incorporates phonics, handwriting, spelling, reading, and grammar, and is based on the Orton-Gillingham method. Skills are taught in both whole-class and small-group lessons, and each skill is taught to mastery.

Our Reading Comprehension program, Open Court Reading, exposes our students to a variety of genres and uses real literature as mentor texts to teach critical thinking skills, vocabulary, grammar, and writing. In addition, class novels are used to teach students good reading habits and to build up their independent reading stamina. 


Writing Curriculum

Our writing curriculum incorporates elements of The Writing Revolution (The Hochman Method). This structured, skills-based program builds our students’ understanding of proper sentence and paragraph structure and helps to enhance their clarity, coherence, and precision as they structure their ideas in both expository and narrative writing. This is used alongside grammar and vocabulary lessons and helps the students organize and develop their writing. Graphic organizers are used for each writing assignment, and it is with these organizers that students learn the writing process from generating ideas to drafting, revising, and editing, before handing in their finished work. By the end of fourth grade, our students are able to write three-to-five-paragraph essays following proper writing conventions that are used across content areas. 


Science Curriculum

At TCA, we want our children to stay curious about their world, ask questions, and know how to look for answers. Our hands-on Science curriculum is designed to foster that curiosity. Science topics follow the New Jersey Standards for each grade, and our Science Coordinator works with each teacher to develop and implement lessons. Curricular units include topics in earth science, physics, life science, and chemistry. These topics expose our students to a variety of interesting topics, build upon their prior knowledge, and utilize their developing inquiry skills.  In the lower grades, Science is considered an extension of Literacy; textbooks are used starting in Grade Three when the children have solidified their reading fluency and are able to begin reading independently to gain information. 


Social Studies Curriculum

Our Social Studies curriculum follows the New Jersey Standards to teach students about the world around them. Like Science, Social Studies is integrated into the Literacy and Language Arts curriculum in grades 1-4. Students gain exposure to United States history, world geography and cultures, economics, civics, and current events. Students engage in focused study of important events and individuals in history and develop an understanding of how the actions of others affect the world in which we live. 


Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning skills, including organization and time management, are woven throughout every day at TCA. Starting in Grade One, students are learning to manage their personal materials and keep their desk area neat and set up for learning. As they move up the grades, long-term assignments and research projects are used to teach students the research process and how to budget and manage their time so that they are not rushing to complete an assignment at the last minute. Teachers embed many organizational skills and strategies into their instructional language and support is offered as students work towards obtaining these critical skills. 



Through a variety of unique, interdisciplinary hands-on experiences and state-of-the-art technology designed to develop intellectual curiosity and promote creativity, TCA students explore and learn about the world around them. During weekly Technology/ STEM Classes, our students learn the importance of Internet safety and being responsible digital citizens. Topics include instruction in coding, keyboarding, graphic design, research, and the effective use of instructional programs and Google apps.


Social and Emotional Development

TCA puts a strong focus on social and emotional development. In addition to weekly lessons led by our Director of Guidance, our teachers select instructional resources that support those social-emotional learning goals. Using the Character Strong curriculum, our students engage in activities both in the classroom and throughout their school day that assist them in developing a healthy sense of self and enriched interpersonal skills.

The entire staff is mindful of ensuring that our students have recreational time outside of the classroom and collaborative learning opportunities. We follow The Nurtured Heart approach when interacting with students to ensure that we are reinforcing positive behavior and providing corrective feedback that is supportive of each child’s unique development and personal experiences.