Specialized Classes

The Lower School Specialized Classes offered weekly in junior-kindergarten through fifth grade are library, technology, science, music, drama, Spanish, woodshop and physical educations. Beginning in first grade, art is included. Specialists work closely with classroom teachers to enrich and extend the curriculum.

List of 12 items.

  • Art

    Students use art as a unique form of thinking that allows the opportunity to envision, set goals, determine methods, identify alternatives, evaluate, revise, solve problems, imagine, work collaboratively, and apply self-discipline.

    As students create their own art using various media, they make connections, relationships, and applications that convey meaning. Students are required to critically assess and communicate the aesthetic value of works of art from historical and cultural perspectives as they learn to be visually literate.

    Throughout the Lower School Years 
    Students are introduced to the elements of art and the use of “line” and its variations as a key component of illustrations. In particular,
    • They learn about warm and cool colors, mixing secondary colors and applying paint to create the illusion of distance. 
    • They explore artistic styles, techniques, and details such as line types, textures and color, and they experiment with a variety of unique brush types and brushstroke styles of well-known artists. 
    • They replicate textures, designs, and patterns, eventually moving from Representational Art to Abstract Art. 
    • They experiment with materials such as beads, rope, feathers, raffia, and cloth to create unique colonial-style cardboard weavings, and they are exposed to graphic design in creating Martin Luther King, Jr. posters.
    • Students study the elements of cartooning in order to create “political cartoons” to motivate and educate their peers about current environmental concerns as well as themselves as superheroes. "Story People," drawn from wooden mannequins, become the spokespeople for each student's personal life philosophy.
  • Drama

    Students apply processes and skills in acting, and designing to create informal theatre and to perform in them. Students apply what they learn across subject areas. They develop competencies and creative skills in group and cooperative work, problem solving, communication, and time management that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills.

    Junior-Kindergarten through First Grade
    Students develop creative and cooperative skills by participating in puppetry, pantomime, improvisation, and story dramatization activities. They demonstrate the ability to retell a familiar story, nursery rhyme, myth, or fable and begin to create dramatic characters through voice and physical action. By developing important skills through working together in dramatizations, they begin to understand what it means to be both a performer and a member of the audience.

    Second through Fifth Grade
    During these years, students apply processes and skills in acting and designing to create and perform in theatrical presentations and performances. They strengthen cooperative skills and concentration and learn the vocabulary of the theatre. Students apply what they learn across subject areas. They develop competencies and creative skills in communication, group and cooperative work, problem solving, and time management that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills.
  • Instrumental Music (Band)

    Third through Fifth Grade
    All third through fifth grade Lower Schoolstudents are enrolled in music classes. In third grade, students survey three courses, one each trimester, including recorder, chorus and violin. As the students move into fourth grade, they may pick one of the three options (recorder becomes instrumental band) for a year’s study. They have the option of choosing again for fifth grade, but many remain in the classes they chose for fourth grade.

    Recorder students at this level are expected to learn basic music theory and concepts, including reading notes, note values and rhythms. Students can respond to basic rhythm patterns, use proper breathing technique (recorders), fingerings and phrasing. They can perform 2-part harmonies in ¾ and 4/4 time signature, and they can read a musical "road map." Additionally, the students can listen to and critique other students' performances, and they can memorize and perform a range of songs in a concert setting.

    Fourth Grade 
    Fourth-grade band students are able to use musical terminology, and they understand how to use note and fingering charts. They are aware of and use correct posture, and they are able to read complex rhythms, use correct articulation techniques and proper phrasing. They build on their understanding of music theory and terminology, and they use dynamics to make their music sound more interesting. Eventually, they are able to play from sheet music rather than just the band book, and they can read more sophisticated music, including sixteenth notes, dotted notes, and syncopation.

    They use their classroom instruments to play melodies and accompaniments from a diverse repertoire of music from diverse cultures, and they can improvise simple rhythmic and melodic patterns with their instruments. They are able to critique musical performances with specific criteria and understand what makes a performance a work of art.

    Fifth Grade 
    Fifth-grade band students produce a broader range of notes with more advanced music and tempos, and they learn to create more fluid-sounding performances. They are able to perform basic rhythmic, melodic, and chordal patterns (arpeggios) independently, and they perform more advanced rhythmic notation. Sight reading improves, and jazz rhythms and blues and chromatic scales are performed. Students are able to identify ensembles from a variety of genres and cultures, and they can describe music forms, including theme and variations and twelve-bar blues.

    They develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving (through figuring out rhythms), communication (asking questions), and management of time (practicing instruments at home) that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills. Ultimately, they perform in a “pit orchestra” for a 1920’s silent film, performed before a live audience, and they understand the role of music in community events.
  • Learning Center

    Lower School Resource Program
    The Resource Program provides assessment, reinforcement, and remediation for students in kindergarten through fifth grade who require more intensive instruction in language arts. Individual learning programs are created for students who are experiencing difficulty in the regular classroom setting and who may have learning differences. In individual or small-group instruction, students are taught using specialized lessons that incorporate a multi-sensory approach to learning. Each student’s progress is carefully monitored to ensure academic success. The ultimate goal of the Resource Program is to help each student to become a confident, competent, and creative learner.

    The Resource Program for kindergarten students consists of activities specifically designed to enhance phonemic awareness (sound to sound correspondence) and phonics (sound to symbol correspondence) in order to prepare for fluent reading. A multi-sensory approach is used to establish a firm connection between the sounds of the alphabetic language and how to manipulate those sounds to form words when reading. As the year progresses, students continue to explore the sounds of the language and add guided reading lessons and dictation.

    First Grade
    First-grade students concentrate on mastery of phonemic awareness (sound to sound correspondence) and beginning phonetic principles (sound to symbol correspondence) in order to read with fluency. Reading practice is reinforced using a multi-sensory approach. First graders also practice sight words and learn to write creatively at the sentence level. 

    Second Grade
    Second-grade students concentrate on mastery of phonetic principles that aid in fluent reading. Reading practice consists of building automaticity by practicing fiction and non-fiction passages that the student is able to decode at the independent and instructional levels. Second graders also practice sight words and begin to explore paragraph formation through narrative writing. Writing is supported by using graphic organizers and shared writing experiences.
    Third Grade
    Third-grade students read both fiction and non-fiction selections to build reading fluency and comprehension. Depending upon student need, lessons in phonetic principles may be taught in order to enhance reading fluency. Comprehension is taught using a variety of discussion techniques in combination with authentic literature. Writing practice includes lessons in narrative and expository writing.

    Fourth and Fifth Grade
    Fourth and fifth-grade students work in a variety of texts depending on skill and interest. Reading fluency is practiced on a daily basis using decodable text at grade level. Comprehension is taught using a variety of discussion techniques with non-fiction passages as well as a class novel. Written assignments include small-moment narratives, expository writing, ‘how-to’ compositions, research writing, and poetry.
  • Library

    The library program focuses on the development of essential information skills students will need for the future: the ability to locate information, the ability to select, evaluate, and use information in a variety of formats critically and competently, and the ability to use information and technology ethically and responsibly to pursue personal interests and school assignments.

    Readingis a foundational skill for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment, so our program also focuses on fostering an appreciation for literature and encouraging a love of reading by exposing the students to various authors and genre from a variety of cultures and perspectives through booktalks and storytimes.
  • Mandarin Chinese

    Mandarin Chinese program at Lower School begins in senior kindergarten through fifth grade. The goal of the program is to promote students’ communicative competence, functional use of the language, connect with other disciplines, and connect the language learning in classroom with real-world experiences. Meanwhile, the cultural component of the course aims for students to learn and appreciate the cultures of Chinese-speaking countries with an open mind; furthermore, to prepare students to become future global citizens.

    According to our Mandarin Chinese curriculum, students will learn the fundamentals of listening, speaking, reading, writing and typing throughout the years. Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting, traditional Chinese folk music, food making and tasting are integrated into the curriculum. A typical lesson is composed of songs, rhymes, games, role-play, and other activities that appeal to the younger children.
  • Music (choral)

    Junior Kindergarten through Second Grade
    Children learn to listen and imitate sounds, building the discrimination needed to differentiate. The understanding of tone color, rhythm, melody, pitch matching, as well as sense of pitch (high/low) all furnish the foundation of later work in the technicality of music composition and expression. Understanding of language, music knowledge, love of singing, harmonious movement, interest for music, and influencing the sensitivity through various music genres are all part of an overall-complete music curriculum foundation during these formative years.

    Third through Fifth Grade
    Vocal music gives students the experience in the study and performance of a diverse repertoire of vocal/choral music. The class includes instruction in proper vocal technique, musicianship skills, and the cultural and historical context of choral literature. Students learn to read and perform from printed music. In addition to daily choral singing, students reinforce vocabulary to the elements of music. Students are exposed to a variety of music styles, and singing in a multitude of languages.
  • Physical Education (PE)

    The Physical Education Department at the elementary level focuses on the development of healthy lifestyles, cardiovascular fitness, motor skills and movement knowledge, and social and personal skills. While helping students develop a variety of movement and motor skills, we also provide students with a basic understanding of fundamental sports skills.

    Through skill development and the ability to get along with others in movement environments, we believe that students will seek out and enjoy physical activity, thus enabling them to maintain an acceptable level of physical fitness throughout their lifetime. The curriculum is planned to allow a program of activities that will closely follow the physical development of the child from the kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Science

    Lower Schoolscience is designed to promote curiosity and wonder in the scientific world through a hands-on, discovery-oriented program beginning in junior kindergarten. Students learn how to investigate and experiment, increasingly refining questions and sharpening observations through the physical, life and earth sciences. Developing scientific skills and knowledge lead students to make and test predictions in making connections in all that they experience through their senses.
  • Spanish

    The Spanish program at Francis Parker starts at the Junior Kindergarten level and continues through the fifth grade. The goal is to guide the students to communicate in meaningful and appropriate ways in the target language following the Standards for Foreign Language Learning based on the five Cs: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Communities.

    The students have the opportunity to explore those areas through class participation, reading magazines and books, writing stories, watching videos, tasting food, celebrating holidays, and researching the Internet for a global understanding of cultures and traditions.
  • Strings

    Students are introduced to the violin in third grade in one of three music rotations (the others are recorder and chorus). During their violin trimester, the students learn enough about the instrument to be able to perform in a group at the school's Thanksgiving and Grandparents' Day programs.

    In the next 2 school years, students have the opportunity to choose violin for a year or two of study. Fourth-grade violinists build on the fundamental exposure they had in third grade, developing real competence in note reading, technique and individual and group performance. Fifth-grade students work on even more refinement and tackle more difficult musical compositions. Many of the students continue their violin study in the Middle and Upper Schools.
  • Woodshop

    Woodworking gives each fourth and fifth-grade student the opportunity to utilize academic skills in a practical manner. Students learn to safely use a wide range of hand and power tools. Woodworking gives students the opportunity to experience the sense of pride which comes from transforming a piece of wood into a unique creation. The selection of independent projects follows successful completion of standard projects.
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Mission Hills Campus Lower School

4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Linda Vista Campus Middle/Upper School

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900