In addition to daily outdoor recess, 3rd - 6th grade students enjoy daily P.E. classes. Organized activities and games develop general fitness and conditioning, coordination, movement and dance skills, manipulative activities, and game skills. Classes also emphasize age-appropriate health awareness as well as social skills. Beginning in 5th grade, students have the opportunity to join after-school teams for league competition in soccer, basketball, and soft ball. An intramural basketball program is offered during the winter months.
Dance is included in the P.E. curriculum for all students. Third and 4th-grade students are featured in an informal dance showcase each spring. Fifth and 6th graders learn line dances, square dances, and reels, topping it off with a country-themed dance party. Drama productions often include ensemble choreography.
Westminster’s carefully calibrated technology program recognizes the primary educational importance of live teacher/student interaction as well as the need for young students to gain independent mastery of basic skills without reliance on a computer. In 3rd and 4th grades, students are introduced to technology usage through classroom smart-board activities and book searches using the on-line library card catalog. (Web-connected Starboards are active in all classrooms K-8.) They also begin to learn how to responsibly navigate the internet, as teachers provide links to enriching, subject-related sites for home usage under parental supervision. Technology instruction is included in the academic schedule in grades 5 – 6. At this level, weekly classes provide instruction and practice in basic computer operation, keyboarding, word processing, Internet safety, and Internet research. Technology skills are integrated with the academic program through class assignments. The technology program is continued in the upper grades.
Under the guidance of the administration, teachers are grouped into grade-level teams who become experts in the developmental stage and associated highlights and challenges of each age-group. Since they teach the children for two consecutive years, there is ample time to develop trusting relationships and gain insight into each individual child. Teachers are better able to strengthen the children’s academic skills, but also to nurture healthy individual development and positive peer relations among the children.
Children in grades 3 and 4 are ready to take on new responsibilities and explore budding facets of their own personalities and individual interests. Our teachers help both children and their parents adjust to the exciting blossoming that takes place at this age. The students are encouraged and taught how to take responsibility for their work and accountability for their choices and actions. This is crucial to their development as strong individuals and responsible citizens. Teachers also provide nurturing and reinforcement of positive attitudes and social skills, such as kindness, respect, respnsibility, and resilience. Homeroom teachers serve as counselors to their students, encouraging their positive development in all areas, and helping them navigate school life, friendship issues, and other personal challenges. Close communication and cooperation with parents forms a strong network of support for growing 3rd and 4th graders.
As children enter 5th grade at Westminster School, they literally ”turn the corner” into the 5th/6th grade hallway, but also metaphorically, into a new and exciting stage of development. Preadolescence brings a new emphasis on peer relationships and burgeoning individuality. Greater intellectual development opens new worlds for the children, and they often develop a keen interest in this or that subject, a passion for a particular author, or a newfound pride in their athletic ability. Our teachers delight in and support all of these positive developments in their students. They understand that this developmental stage may also bring new challenges, including peer rivalry and a tendency to more delineated social groups. Our teachers keep a keen eye on the children’s character development and how they interact with one another. Under the experienced guidance of the administration, the teachers are well prepared to guide the children through this sometimes bumpy passage, steering them toward positive self-esteem, kindness and respect for one another, and careful reflection on their own motivations and actions.
Organized and chaperoned by their homeroom and/or enrichment teachers, 3rd – 6th grade students enjoy approximately seven field trips throughout the year. Field trips are chosen to highlight subjects in the core curriculum, as well as music and art classes, and may include museums, historic sites, outdoor venues, professional environments, and performances. All field trips are by Westminster School bus and are included in the cost of tuition.