The curriculum at Ivywood is anchored around the Core Knowledge Sequence. A description of the approach is available at the Core Knowledge website and a more in-depth look is available by downloading the Core Knowledge Sequence. We supplement the Core Knowledge sequence with Singapore Math in order to fully prepare our students in mathematics. The Singapore Math Approach aligns well with the classical approach and has proven to be very effective. Singapore Math provides some sample lessons and materials on their website that allow you to review some of the student and teacher books.
The basis of the Academy curriculum is a collaboration between the school and the BCSI. BCSI works as a curricular advisor and has a complete set of curricular and resource recommendations from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The basis of that curriculum in kindergarten through eighth grades is the Core Knowledge Sequence, prepared by the Core Knowledge Foundation. Following BCSI recommendations, the Academy supplements the Core Knowledge Sequence with the literacy program developed by Access Literacy. The Academy supplements the Core Knowledge Sequence in mathematics by using the Singapore Math curriculum. The Academy also includes the teaching of Latin and Greek roots in grades four and five.
In the earliest grades, the curriculum focuses primarily on language, with the bulk of the school day given to teaching literacy and numeracy. Both subjects are foundational to a student’s education, so the resources and methods deployed in each case must be consistent and excellent. The Academy uses the Access Literacy program to teach literacy and related skills, and the Singapore Math Program to teach numeracy.
Access Literacy is a multi-sensory, brain-based approach for teaching phonics, spelling, reading, handwriting and grammar. The Access Literacy program teaches the 71 letter-sound (phonogram) combinations used in the English language, beginning with the easiest sight-to-sound correspondences, and working towards those that are most complex. Syllabication is critical to a proper understanding of letter-sound relationships, so the Access Literacy program teaches syllabication from the beginning of kindergarten. Alongside learning phonograms and implementing these into a potent spelling and vocabulary regimen, students using the Access Literacy program learn to handwrite, including cursive handwriting. As students grasp the basics of English literacy, the program lays a foundation in basic grammar and composition.
Teaching students to read is the primary focus of early elementary education at the Academy. Once students have transitioned from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” the focus of the Academy curriculum appropriately shifts. From mid-elementary forward, the curriculum places a strong emphasis on reading, and especially upon reading works of great literature.
Once students learn how to read, reading comprehension exercises are slowly replaced with literature. From third grade forward, literature becomes a primary component of the curriculum, one of the four curricular cores. Literature in the younger grades (especially in grades 3-5) exposes students to a certain level of cultural literacy and understanding, thereby allowing students to understand the literary traditions inherited from characters like Robin Hood and writers like Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Singapore Math Program provides students with a strong conceptual foundation in basic mathematics. From the earliest grades, this program emphasizes concepts, mental math and number sense while employing physical and graphical illustrations of underlying mathematical rules and phenomena. The program presents mathematical skill building and problem-solving such that students have a better understanding of not only when to use a particular equation, but why. Moving students on to higher levels of skills before students are ready is not an option, so the program is employed at each student’s ability level. Ability-level groups are determined at the beginning of each school year, and adjustments are made on an as-needed basis in order to best equip each student with the language of numeracy.