LCA's Approach to Science and Global Studies in the Primary Grades

March 30, 2018, by Kelsey Castaneda, Grade 2 lead teacher

When I first moved back home to Louisville to continue my teaching career, I interviewed at several different schools in the city. Louisville is home to so many different types of schools with different approaches to education, and it was of the utmost importance to me to teach at a school that I felt was making new, exciting, and important leaps in education in our city. LCA’s classical approach to education is already unique to Louisville, especially as this approach is taken at both the upper and lower campuses. But, what is even more important, I think, is that the LCA Primary Program has hands-on science and global studies courses integrated into the core curriculum.

While many schools do teach elementary students science, LCA teachers take a different approach, allowing students not simply to complete worksheets, but to participate in hands-on activities and experiments. LCA believes it is imperative for students to begin learning research procedures and conducting experiments at a young age. Rather than simply reading about how the amount of sunlight a plant gets affects its growth, LCA third graders conducted an experiment with tomatoes, leaving them under different window seals and observing how the lack of sunlight stunts the growth of one tomato over a couple of days. My second graders were pleased to have Mrs. Kelly Stevenson, science teacher at the upper campus, come over to do a flower dissection experiment, giving them a first-hand look at the different parts of the flower, and how those parts all work together. Our entire Primary Program spent a day at the University of Louisville’s Rauch Planetarium, where they learned all about our solar system’s planets in a virtual reality experience that made them feel like they really were in space.

Most other schools have some kind of social studies or history courses for elementary students, but those courses usually focus on American history only. LCA students study globally, meaning they start studying not only U.S. history, but also the history and cultures of other countries all around the world from the time that they are in kindergarten.

My second-grade students, for example, have had the opportunity to study a plethora of countries and cultures throughout the year. The second-grade curriculum emphasizes Asian cultures, and we have studied China, Japan, India, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and reviewed the biographies of significant leaders of these countries, such as Gandhi and Genghis Khan. We have examined the cultures of these countries and their differences from ours, from language to cuisine and holidays to religions. We do special projects to really help the students understand these new places. LCA teachers have organized everything from Greek feasts to Kamishibai plays, to reenactments of Seneca Falls and the Women’s Suffrage movement. Teaching children about other cultures at a young age encourages an open mind, better understanding, and an inclusive attitude, benefiting them in their future endeavors.

In addition to this global approach, second graders do learn about American history. We began with America’s rebellion from England, resulting in the establishment of our country. From then on, we examined the Civil War and the importance of figures like Harriet Tubman. It is astounding to hear first-grade students chat about Greek gods and goddesses they've enjoyed learning about during lunchtime or to see kindergarteners pretending to be soldiers in the Revolutionary War during recess time.

LCA is special for so many reasons. Our curriculum, I think, is one of the critical reasons and really sets our school apart from others in the area. I am so pleased to be teaching at a school that encourages students to think outside the box in all subjects, especially at a young age.