Learning in Elementary School
Learning in Elementary School
The Elementary School provides a safe and nurturing learning environment with high social and academic expectations for all students. All classes are taught by certified, accomplished, and experienced teachers who are committed to ongoing professional development. Each child is assigned to the care of a specific home-base teacher, who understands their academic and social needs. Teacher to student ratios are intentionally small to facilitate a strong community of learners. Our dedicated faculty, in collaboration with support staff, maintain the high standards and expectations that are the hallmark of a Nishimachi education.
In addition to home-base teachers, other qualified teachers support the full scope of the elementary learning environment. Specialists teach Music, Art, Drama and Physical Education. Bilingual classroom assistants work closely with the teachers and our youngest learners in each kindergarten class. This ensures a positive and successful transition to schooling. This support is continued through Grades 1 and 2 with grade-level team assistants.
Japanese language teachers teach smaller classes to meet the diverse needs of Japanese language instruction. The faculty meets frequently to discuss curriculum needs, student welfare, and the integration of Japanese language and culture into daily learning. When necessary, the student support team works with the home-base teacher to further support the social, emotional and intellectual growth of each student.
The school year is divided into two semesters, and student progress is reported at the end of each. There are three occasions per year for formal parent conferences. At the first of these, held early in September, parents meet with the child's teachers. This is an opportunity for parents to share with the teacher their perspective on the child, as a person and a learner. A parent-student-teacher conference follows later in the semester at which student progress is jointly discussed. Finally, in the spring, students are provided the opportunity to lead the discussion, presenting a comprehensive portfolio of work to parents while reviewing the progress made over the course of the school year.
Homework is a necessary part of the overall elementary educational program. The amount of time for homework will vary from student to student, but, in general, homework assignments range from 10 to 30 minutes per day for students in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2, and up to one hour for those in grades 3, 4, and 5 for general classroom subjects. In addition, Japanese homework will be assigned each week by the child’s Japanese teacher, the amount and content of which also varies by grade and level.
Under the guidance of the school counselor, elementary students from grades 2 through 5 participate in Nishimachi's student council (StuCo). Members are elected by class and represent the interests of their fellow students at biweekly meetings while working together to develop leadership opportunities and contribute to student life.