Hilldale School has adopted an accelerated curriculum with specified goals to be attained at each grade level. It is comprehensive and challenging, and seeks to provide both breadth and depth in all subjects. Hilldale encourages high expectations, a sense of world citizenship and social responsibility, an understanding of our environment and the need for personal stewardship of our environmental resources, positive ethical values, and critical thinking.
The Hilldale curriculum is structured to encourage the development of academic skills in efficient and engaging ways, drawing upon traditional and contemporary instructional methodologies and philosophies. Teachers include hands-on learning experiences and real world connections in order to make the learning experience meaningful and enjoyable. We emphasize the presentation and mastery of basic skills and subject content in phonics, reading, grammar, composition, spelling, math, science, geography, and history, providing the necessary foundation for study in higher level academic disciplines. However, we also stress critical thinking and problem solving skills which prepare the students to successfully meet the challenges they may face in the future, as well as thoughtful and creative arts which can provide balance and meaning to their lives.
Hilldale School offers a strong foundation in Language Arts through the implementation of excellent phonetic-based early-reading programs. Students develop skills in reading, comprehension, composition, and speaking through extensive and varied literacy activities and literary resources beginning in Pre-Kindergarten. Vocabulary studies begin in second grade, when students can still absorb words easily into their daily vocabularies. Yearly “Young Author” projects encourage creative writing. “Reading Challenges,” Reading Buddies, and library skills instruction enhance our strong Language Arts program.
Our Mathematics instruction stresses the fundamentals of number sense and computation, and then encourages making use of this knowledge through innovative problem solving and reasoning. We use not only direct instruction techniques and manipulatives, but also real-world problem solving and projects.
Our Science program includes instruction in basic knowledge combined with hands-on scientific research approaches. Students are encouraged to ask questions, investigate, and utilize the scientific method of discovery to find the answers. Yearly science fair projects begin in Kindergarten, and middle school students have regular "current events" discussions, leading to a thorough knowledge of how science is continuously affecting students' world and lives.
Our Social Studies program is far superior to what most schools offer. We feel strongly that students need to know about their communities, their country, and the world in order to be good citizens. To this end, we use not only a strong Social Studies textbook series beginning in Kindergarten, but also an intensive world map studies program. We participate in the National Geography Bee and sponsor an annual International Fair. We integrate the Core Knowledge international topics into our lower school curriculum, and we continually point to how we can be better citizens.
As part of our goal to develop a sense of world citizenship and social responsibility, we introduce world language (Spanish) from the beginning in Kindergarten, when it is still possible to develop an ease of pronouncing and thinking the language. This is not an immersion program, but by second grade, students do feel fairly comfortable communicating in the language and are learning grammar and adding to their vocabularies. As our student population grows, we plan to offer additional languages, including Latin, which helps to develop a strong knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar.
Technology is integrated into the curriculum to help students develop the comfort and skills to carry them forward in our ever-changing world. Students learn computer literacy through enrichment programs, beginning with the use of common applications such as word processing and research via the internet and progressing to specific programs and more complex computer applications.
Music, Art, Physical Education, & Ethics
In addition to the strong academic instruction, Music and Art appreciation and Physical Education classes are provided to all students. Drama experiences and "Ethics" (Character Education, Philosophy, and Debate) encourage creative expression and critical thinking. Each class also enjoys a variety of field trips which extend the curriculum by providing cultural and aesthetic experiences. In all subject areas, it is our ongoing goal to find the best curriculum for our students, to present this curriculum in the best manner possible, and to allow our students to develop to their maximum potential.