Academics
Lower School

Spaces and Places: "The Specials"

"Inspired by a rich and challenging program, our graduates will explore ideas critically, communicate effectively, and lead active intellectual lives.”
-Dwight-Englewood School Profile of a Graduate
The Lower School supports our D-E Profile of a Graduate in its’ commitment to what we call the “Specials”: art, music, Spanish, technology, science, and health and wellness. These programs are also essential to fulfilling the mission of our school. Alongside the core curriculum consisting of literacy, mathematics and social studies, these classes foster creativity and critical thought and provide opportunities to imagine, experiment, and solve problems using skills, materials, and techniques not typically found in the classroom.

On a weekly basis students visit the “Specials” once or twice each week, which means throughout the day they are exposed to different ideas and different ways of experiencing and thinking about the world. Our “Specials” teachers start working with our children at a young age and continue working with them from year to year. They establish lasting relationships with our children over time, watching them learn and grow.

Many of our students identify the “Specials” as their favorite time of day. Moreover, for many of them, these areas are where their unique talents and modes of self-expression are nurtured.

List of 5 items.

  • Fine & Performing Arts

    A well-rounded education includes extensive exposure to art and music. This allows in children to make connections across disciplines, developing interests and skills in a number of subjects and building a rich, expansive world view. Faculty trained in art and music education provide an integrated, vertical curriculum and teach in spaces specifically designed for these subjects. The time and space given to these subjects reflects the high value we place on these curricular areas as part of the Lower School experience, and helps children learn to express themselves outside of the classroom.
    From Kindergarten through fourth grade, Lower School students work in units of study based in art mediums, so that as artists, they are adept at a variety of skills from which to draw syntax for expression of their ideas. Projects are explored through individual work, in small groups, and as a whole class, depending on individual project ideas and how they may best be expressed. Students draw parallels between all of their learning and aspects of the creative process. In fifth-grade, the art and music curriculum culminates in a year-long, integrated “Creating Original Opera” program sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera.
    The visual arts department at D-E maintains alignment with Middle & Upper School visual arts curriculum so children experience a foundation that will serve their future creative endeavors. Each K-12 art class is held in the visual arts facility at The Swartley Art Center on the D-E campus.
  • Health and Wellness

    The Lower School Health and Wellness curriculum consists of three components: Physical Education, Health Education, and Mindfulness.
    In Physical Education, students build confidence, increase self-esteem, develop motor skills, acquire knowledge and foster positive values and attitudes for an active and healthy lifestyle. The curriculum is skills/fitness-based and is sequential.
    Our Health curriculum is comprehensive and sequential, covering the components of physical health, preventative health, and social/emotional health. Students learn the benefits of taking care of their body. Lessons on fitness, injury prevention, and nutrition are taught to help students learn to identify healthy choices and activities.
    The Life Skills and Mindfulness curriculums focus on the social and emotional health of students.
  • Science

    Science curriculum is a vital part of the Lower School curriculum. Instead of science experienced through a textbook, Lower School children in our “Exploratorium” science classroom investigate the natural world outside their classroom, generate questions and search for answers. Students begin to develop the skills and habits of minds to be active and engaged problem solvers in an increasingly complex world. As part of the science curriculum, the Lower School garden is a resource for understanding and appreciating the natural world, as well as a concrete way to focus on sustainability.
  • Spanish

    Students apply learned vocabulary and phrases related to self, family and school life through culturally authentic songs, stories and traditional games. In preschool 3 through second grade students are introduced to Spanish through our FLEX (Foreign Language Exploratory) program. In third, fourth and fifth grade, students meet three to four times a week in a FLES (Foreign Language Elementary School) setting. In Spanish classes, students engage in conversational and presentational tasks that allow them to recombine learned vocabulary and create meaningful messages.
  • Technology

    The goal of the Lower School technology program is to develop activities and projects that make connections to the themes and curriculum that are covered in each grade level. Using a variety of apps and programs, students learn the skills they need to move on to Middle School and beyond. The projects challenge students to think critically, organize their ideas, and present them using a variety of media. Classrooms are equipped with smartboards and projection capabilities. There are several carts of iPads that are shared by classes and include a variety of apps that support the curriculum.
    Students create portfolios starting in first grade that include samples of their work and experiences at the Lower School. At the end of each year, portfolios are uploaded to google drive as videos. Students can access these videos, year after year, to share and reflect on their Lower School experiences. We also have a strong robotics program that gives students in the different grades the opportunity to build and program robots that are tied to scientific concepts and challenges, e.g. recycling, cleaning the ocean, space exploration and more.
Located in Englewood, New Jersey, Dwight-Englewood is a greater New York City area private school with a rigorous college prep curriculum for boys and girls in preschool through grade 12.