A boy holds up a potato he harvested in the school garden

Welcome to Lower School

Who Do You Want Your Child to Be?

Belmont Day lower school students learn how to be so many things: fluent readers and writers, confident mathematicians, critical thinkers, resolute researchers, confident public speakers, strong athletes, versatile artists, caring friends, and good citizens.

We teach students to be bold in taking risks and to expect failure to be as much of the learning process as success. Thus Belmont Day students become more self-reliant and resilient, more analytical and astute. At the same time, we also foster perspective and empathy, as well as invaluable life skills like listening, cooperating, and respecting others’ opinions and differences. From the very beginning of their formal education, we help children come to see themselves as learners and individuals who have agency in their world.

At Belmont Day all students are appreciated for their unique personalities and abilities. Our small student-to-teacher ratios mean that students regularly work one-on-one with teachers, and in small groups with teachers and peers. In this secure, supportive environment, children thrive, intellectually, and socially. Confident and comfortable, students’ natural curiosity glows brightly as they are challenged and supported to strengthen their minds and become their best selves.

The lower school at Belmont Day is a place where your child will:

  • develop a deep understanding of numeric place value
  • harvest potatoes in the morning and eat them at lunch
  • research and write about changemakers
  • build and program a robot
  • dramatize The Odyssey
  • study ecosystems
  • mummify a hen
  • take a nature walk on snow shoes
  • participate in meaningful community service
  • design and build assistive devices 

We welcome students and families from many cities and towns including Arlington, Cambridge, Medford, Lexington, Lincoln, Newton, Waltham, Watertown, Winchester, and Woburn. Contact us to learn more about our private pre-k, kindergarten and elementary school programs.

Message from the Lower School Head

Learn, Do, Share. This is the mantra of Capstone, the culminating educational experience for all eighth graders at Belmont Day. Students choose a topic of interest and write a research paper, design and execute a related project, and share their learning at a presentation. Having taught kindergarten at BDS for well over a decade, I have attended countless presentations by former students, and I marvel at the confidence that each presenter exudes when standing in front of an audience of peers, faculty, family members, and guests. I am also dazzled by the extent of their knowledge about their selected topic and impressed by the conviction that they possess when answering unrehearsed questions, especially when I think back to our initial encounter in the lower school.

The learning journey that leads to Capstone often begins in the lower school, where our faculty skillfully harness children’s innate curiosity and wonder with child-centered activities while also devoting time to explicitly teach foundational skills in these formative years. Lower school teachers offer a safe, nurturing environment, meeting students where they are while challenging them to tap their full potential in literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts, and physical education. Lower school students have rich and varied opportunities to develop the courage, determination, and grit that our eighth graders convey when delivering their presentations. Our youngest learners in pre-k and kindergarten take risks by making announcements on behalf of their classes at school-wide sharing assemblies. Students debut in their first dramatic production in first grade, second graders enlighten us about changemakers and endangered species, third graders proudly present their state at the annual state fair, fourth graders take on the role of gods and goddesses at a Greek festival, and fifth graders create their own science videos to showcase to our community.

Our lower school spans seven years which are a pivotal part of a child’s growth and development— physically, emotionally, and academically. We invite and welcome you to experience our vibrant and dynamic lower school for yourself.

Betty Chu Pryor
Lower School Head

Betty Chu Pryor
Betty Chu Pryor
Lower School Head

Early Childhood and Elementary Academics

Creative, compelling, and challenging: lessons at Belmont Day capture the imagination and engage the intellect while building mastery.

Turning pages. Literacy is the key that opens practically every door to knowledge and fulfillment. And Belmont Day teachers have the supremely satisfying role of passing that key on to their students. No matter what level children have reached when they arrive at our school, they receive appropriate instruction that maintains engagement and momentum. A reading specialist tracks the progress of every pre-k through second grade student and collaborates with classroom teachers to advance reading skills. From introducing phonics to exploring wonderful books and demonstrating how to express ideas, our capable teachers help each child to strengthen the crucial skills that will last—and profoundly enrich—a lifetime.

Incalculable benefits. Math matters. And at Belmont Day, our students learn to appreciate the discipline not merely for its utility, but for its elegance. Whether they’re mastering simple arithmetic or complex algebra, children at Belmont Day continually discover and demonstrate how essential math is to problem-posing and problem-solving. Lower school students benefit from the hands-on Singapore Math curriculum, which challenges as it builds mastery in fundamentals. Students begin by working with objects to reinforce what it means to have 1, or 2, or 15, or 100 of anything. They then move step-by-step to a conceptual framework. This shift from the concrete to the abstract is one of the most challenging developmental leaps in early childhood—and is critical for future facility in mathematics. Our teachers are proficient, creative, and enamored with the subject, and their affection makes math all the more irresistible.

Interdisciplinary explorations. Lower school students investigate fundamental concepts in science and social studies through multi-faceted lessons that connect to real-world contexts. Beginning in pre-kindergarten students are exploring important ideas about nature and their community. By second grade students are solidifying and applying skills to their first research projects as they study endangered animals and people who are inspiring “changemakers.” In upper elementary, students take on assignments with greater depth and complexity, as they manage larger projects over extended periods of time, research material in new ways, and incorporate feedback from teachers and peers. Along the way, students build traditional content knowledge and skill proficiencies as they hone their ability to collaborate and reflect on their own learning process with greater clarity.

Cohesive curriculum. Belmont Day faculty examine our curriculum grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject to ensure that each year grows students’ skills and knowledge base in an intentional and comprehensive way. This work is enhanced by ongoing professional development, that supports our faculty in reviewing national and international data about best practices and curriculum standards. As students move through our divisions of early childhood, upper elementary, and middle school, they feel pride and excitement for each new phase in their development.

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Physical Education

From pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, lower school physical education classes are anticipated with delight. The children know that whether they are crawling through tunnels, climbing over obstacles, or playing a new game, there will be fun. With a focus on cooperative play, teamwork, and good sportsmanship, our students learn a progression of increasingly complex athletic skills and strategies. They work on developing strength, endurance, balance, cardio-respiratory fitness, speed, and agility. They begin to understand rules and team play. By fifth grade, students look forward to donning a Belmont Day uniform to play on interscholastic teams in middle school.

In addition to their regular PE classes, students have many opportunities for physical activity. Recess periods are filled with sledding, soccer, and mastering the monkey bars. Our annual field day engages the entire school in a series of spirited cross-graded games.

Read the latest Two students playing basketball in the gymPhysical Education News

A first grade jumps rope in the gymView the latest Physical Education Gallery

Arts

Arts are integral to Belmont Day—embedded in the academics and valued by the community. We recognize students’ inherent impulse to create, and we provide an environment that celebrates imagination, experimentation, and discovery. As a result, children gain confidence in developing and expressing their own unique voice.

The artwork on display as you walk through our school is a mere hint of what transpires in our two art studios, woodworking studio, music room, and performing arts center. In music, students study music appreciation and learn skills to engage in vocal and instrumental performance. In theater arts, students develop as actors and public speakers and then showcase these skills in class productions. In woodworking, students are introduced to basic skills using hand tools as they apply concrete and abstract thinking skills. In visual arts, students sculpt, print, paint, draw, collage, sew, and photograph to turn their thoughts into artworks.

Students on stage for the third grade playRead the latest Arts News

Art teacher joyfully looks at student's print in the art studioView the latest Arts Gallery

Beyond the Classroom

In truth, all of Belmont Day is a classroom. Every member of the community learns and grows from the activities and interactions that occur beyond traditional academic areas. Informal and formal in nature, these occurrences shape the development of each lower school student into the confident, capable middle schooler they will become.

Our Strong Community Builds Leaders

Ask any member of the faculty, parent, or student body about why they love Belmont Day and the word community will often be at the top of their list. It is the culture of deep respect, built from the earliest days in the classroom, that makes our school a safe haven for exploration and personal growth. Based on the work of Responsive Classroom, and rooted in our six values, students build relationships that acknowledge each child’s individual strengths and their contributions to the classroom and school community. Belmont Day students are actively engaged in discussions and activities that develop their sense of belonging to the community and their growth as leaders within it.

Community Service

In each grade, students and faculty conceive of and carry out creative and relevant service projects. Our kindergarten students make joke books for Hospitality Homes, a program that provides free short-term housing for families of patients seeking medical care in Boston, while second graders engage in a year-long service learning project that links work in the Belmont Day garden with fundraising, education, and community action, all to benefit Gaining Ground, an organization the grows organic produce for hunger relief. Throughout the lower school experience, projects are as varied as the causes they support and the children that envision them.

Our service efforts culminate in an all-school Community Service Day in May when each grade takes on projects that are developmentally appropriate, relevant to the group, and allow for collaboration and teamwork. Some of the activities and projects take place on school grounds, while others take our students into the broader community.

Cross-Graded Partnerships

Younger students love to look up to older students, who, in turn, value the experience of nurturing others. We expand each student’s sense of community with cross-graded partnerships that are developed through structured activities, as well as informal high-fives in the hallways. Each grade is paired with another: pre-kindergarten with eighth grade, kindergarten with sixth grade, first with fourth grade, second with fifth grade, and third with seventh grade.

Ensembles Program

The arts are integral to Belmont Day, embedded in the academic program, and valued by the community. In addition to their classroom experience, students are offered the opportunity to participate in musical ensembles, which provide the experience of learning, practicing, and performing in a small group. Modern band and the cello, guitar, orchestra, wind, and world drumming ensembles meet once a week, either before or after school. 

A group of student singers onstage at the winter concert

Learn more about Ensembles

Health and Wellness

Our health and wellness program starts with our earliest grades and extends all the way through our middle school. Developmentally appropriate conversations within each grade explore family life, personal behavior, interpersonal relationships, and human growth and development, always within a respectful, inclusive environment. Our program empowers self-care, models positive relationships, and promotes responsibility for making good decisions throughout life. 

Family-style Dining

How and what we eat is central to our overall well-being and the social and emotional growth of our students. Every day the kitchen buzzes with energy and creativity, and students get to witness this process and receive warm greetings from the kitchen staff when they walk by.

Family-style dining in Coolidge Hall is a very real example of our core value of excellence. The kitchen team achieves this by establishing practices that emphasize three intentions:
• fostering community
• promoting social development
• encouraging responsibility and respect for the good food we are fortunate to enjoy and for the people who prepare it

A wide variety of healthy and delicious food options are prepared by our in-house chef. Alternative items are available for those with food sensitivities, allergies, and dietary restrictions. Belmont Day is a nut-aware campus—no food containing nuts or peanuts, or traces of nuts or peanuts, are served. The varied menus also reflect cultural diversity and inspire curiosity about customs, flavors, and the joy that food brings to people around the world.

Mindfulness

Belmont Day School values presence, intentionality, thoughtfulness, and engagement. It is evident not only in our core values but in the ways people interact in the classrooms, hallways, and playing fields of our campus. Mindfulness is a tool that helps us ground these values in action and reflection. Belmont Day has partnered with WholeSchool Mindfulness to help integrate this essential skill and promote well-being in our community. 

Mindfulness is woven into our health and wellness curriculum. Students begin to explore the mind-body connection, play with awareness and attention, and learn how to anchor themselves in the moment. Our PE classes employ mindful movements, and faculty are offered opportunities to become grounded and practice self-care. 

Greening and Sustainability

Environmental Mission Statement

Belmont Day School is committed to educating and encouraging all members of our school community to be responsible, respectful, and caring stewards of the environment. We will strive to teach and implement environmental best practices to create a sustainable school environment and develop life-long skills that will prepare our members to make responsible environmental choices to sustain our local and global communities.

Belmont Day Garden: See How They Grow

The community garden at Belmont Day serves as an excellent teacher. It helps demonstrate lessons about the cycles of agriculture. Beyond that, students learn firsthand that the most gratifying achievements require planning, knowledge, commitment, effort, and patience.

We grow organic vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs. Students contribute to the effort, along with staff and parent volunteers. Our produce is not only used in our lunches but is donated to a food pantry and used in meals prepared for shelters. We use the garden across virtually all subjects and connect with academic curricula in many grade levels. A large pollinator garden, located directly alongside the vegetable garden, is filled with flowering plants and fruit trees to attract native pollinators such as bumblebees and other insects, butterflies, bats, and birds. Two Warre beehives feature observation windows and a design that allows bees to draw out their own honeycomb. Students help to maintain the hives and harvest the honey. The gardens and beehives serve as a lovely metaphor for our school, demonstrating that together, with attentiveness and industry, caring and collaboration, we can achieve impressive results.

Solar Power

An 80 kW solar array is situated on the roof of the Barn and feeds directly into the building. It is expected that the array will provide up to 15% of the Barn’s electrical needs. The array is an exciting addition to our curriculum work in sustainability. Students will explore the design, electronics, and engineering of solar panels track the energy savings provided by solar power, and learn about other ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Check out our Solar Kiosk for a live glimpse at the daily energy production and the collateral environmental savings and benefits produced by this installation.

Community Initiatives

  • Classroom and lunchroom composting
  • Student energy conservation patrol
  • School-wide recycling
  • Eliminating the use of bottled water
  • Vehicle idling awareness campaign
  • Farm-to-school program
  • Environmental community service opportunities for families
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