Lower School

Joy in Learning

Joy in learning begins in the Lower School, from pre-kindergarten through grade six. We believe a child’s curiosity is innate and God-given, and we work to cultivate that in the primary years. Our students are provided opportunities to explore and to make discoveries across academic disciplines that will enhance their understanding of the world around them. Spiritual formation is nurtured through classroom devotions, weekly chapel services, and the practice of serving others in love and humility.

Each morning begins with classroom gatherings, a time for children to build community and pray for their day. Students are taught appropriate social skills—firm handshakes and strong eye contact, sharing and listening skills—because we believe that when children feel comfortable socially, they are more likely to take risks academically.

Through the implementation of the world-renowned Singapore Math program, students discover the beauty of order in mathematics. Building on conceptual understanding of abstract algorithms, they develop skills to access higher level math concepts.

Through project-based learning, students act as apprentices, guided by grade-level teachers who shepherd their interests in purposeful ways. From conducting in-depth research, to finding pleasure in a good book to drawing maps from memory, to competing in a chess tournament, Lower School students love to learn.

Meet the Head of Lower School

Dr. Mo Gaffney serves as Head of Lower School, joining the team in 2011. Before coming to The Covenant School, Mo taught primary grades in both public and private schools. She earned a B.A. in Early Childhood Education, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a doctorate in Elementary Education, all from the University of Virginia. While at U.Va., she did extensive research in elementary classrooms and served as a literacy coach. She has led professional development workshops in reading and writing and has presented at national conferences. Affiliated with the National Writing Project, she continues to be a leader in the Central Virginia Writing Project. Mo and her husband, Jeff, have four children.

Pre-K and Kindergarten

The foundation of an education at The Covenant School is laid in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. It is in those formative years that young minds are exposed to rich language, dramatic play, math and science discovery, and nature observations. Students experience sensory immersion through innovative teaching techniques and spend time outdoors to discover how they may use their senses to explore the world around them. Creative faculty teach through stories and begin asking students to tell—and write—their own imaginative stories.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are also able to participate in each of the classes and extracurricular activities other students enjoy like art, music, Spanish, physical education, Chapel, field trips, and of course, recess.

Grade 5

As students get older, they are given more responsibility with the support of teachers who understand the importance of this transitional year. Learners focus on building academic habits—organization, independence, resilience—as they take ownership of their learning and prepare for the middle school years ahead. Teachers work with students to fine-tune the skills of clear writing and persuasive articulation of thoughts and ideas.

List of 2 items.

  • Academic Focus Time

    Academic Focus Time (AFT) is a dedicated study hall for fourth and fifth graders intended to support and serve their organizational needs and academic habits.  Students are given time to read independently and complete homework with support of the teacher.
  • Electives

    Fifth-grade students have the opportunity to participate in electives. Each student chooses a year-long performing arts elective from a choice of chorus, band, or handbells. In addition to the performing arts elective, students choose one elective for each trimester.  The options include coding, games, exploratory art, photography, chess, and service squad.

Joy in Learning: The Primary Years

An Interview with Singapore Math Expert, Dr. Yeap Ban Har

The Covenant School

Birdwood Campus | Lower School | Pre-K–Grade 5 |
1000 Birdwood Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 | 434.220.7309

Hickory Campus | Middle and Upper School | Grades 6–12 | 175 Hickory Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 | 434.220.7329
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.