A courageous path forward
Lower School begins a remarkable journey as students’ lives become filled with genuine relationships, a supportive community, and a unique sense of belonging. Nightingale fuels our students’ intellectual curiosity through adventure, play, and a challenging academic program. The Lower School educates holistically, with cognitive, social, and emotional learning designed for girls to receive careful individual attention while also thriving through collaboration.
The Lower School students are encouraged to take intellectual risks from the very beginning. From Kindergarten, students become accustomed to participating in assemblies and sharing their thoughts with the class, bravely tackling open-ended questions like “What is courage?” As their skills and knowledge expand each year by year, so does their ability to influence the world around them.
Each girl at Nightingale comes to know herself and all of which she is capable. Lower School students begin to develop some of the tools they will use as adults who can contribute boldly to a changing world. From an early age, students are taught to look through a global lens, value differences, and to embrace inclusivity.
Lower School Highlights
Every two weeks, each Kindergartener is assigned a new partner pal. Partner pals walk to classes together, keep an eye on each other, and work collaboratively on lessons and skills. Familiarity grows, friendships blossom, and playdates are scheduled. It’s not just a buddy system: It helps build the community for students and their families that is core to a Nightingale education.
Community is at the core of a Nightingale education.
Modern language studies at Nightingale are enriched through song, games, and play to help young students develop a deep love of language. The program builds on competence, confidence, and collaboration through introductions to Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Through the FLES program, Spanish is taught through Class III. French and Mandarin are added in Class IV. A special emphasis is placed on culture and making foreign language study part of a student’s overall learning experience, and not just an isolated subject.
Studies enriched with song, games, and play help develop a deep love of language.
From Imagination to Expression
In Nightingale’s celebrated Visual Education program, students learn to observe and analyze art, then express what they see through writings and presentations. Art is experienced in both the classroom and in New York’s great museums. From an early age, students develop fluency in the language of art while learning to value different ways of seeing and appreciating the imagination of others.
Students develop fluency in the language of art and the imagination of others.
Years at a Glance
A foundation for lifelong learning
Lower School is committed to educating the whole child while nurturing a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.
In Kindergarten, each girl develops a sense of belonging, both in the classroom and school community. Through all of their activities, students work to become effective group members while also being supported in their individual development. Students delight in exploring reading, writing, mathematics, science, Spanish, dance, music, and art. As the girls develop, they grow intellectually, develop their imagination, and learn the power of self-expression.
Class I students move about the Schoolhouse with independence and a sense of purpose. Daily formal reading happens in small groups to keep the focus intimate. In community class, students begin an in-depth discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion. They read a number of books on civil rights and regularly share what they’ve read. Class I students have a wide breadth of classes, from woodworking to art to health—each setting an early foundation for purpose-driven and holistic learning.
Class II students desire to master the “tools of their trade.” They are eager to fill the pages in their journals, learn new math skills, spell harder words, and read longer books. Developing this fluency takes lots of practice, patience, and grit. A major highlight of Class II is learning the geography and history of New York City through the built environment, with visits to museums and landmarks. Class II students boldly take on every challenge.
Class III blossoms into the sciences, completing field studies on the four forces of flight and aviation, the properties of water, ocean zones, and marine life. While studying ornithology and birding, they conduct field research in Central Park. Integrated technology and Mystery Skype experiences enrich the social studies curriculum, which includes a study of human rights and the UN's sustainable development goals. To learn about geography, they employ Google Earth and paper maps, sharpening their skills of deduction as they fearlessly advance in each subject.
Social justice movements and the power of individuals to affect positive change are the doorways into Class IV U.S. history and geography. Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Suffrage, LGBTQIA+ Rights, and Workers’ Rights are the class’ focal points. As a capstone project, the girls complete a biographical study of a change-maker of their choice. To deepen understanding, students investigate the democratic system in a unit on American government.
Programs & Curriculum
Becoming a critical thinker
Lower School teaches students to learn how to think independently, to ask questions, to reason inductively and deductively, and to synthesize their learning.
Through demonstration, experimentation, and observation, the Lower School explores biology, chemistry, physics, and the earth sciences. Logical thinking and problem-solving are key to learning math while reinforcing that there are many ways to approach a problem.
Fluent readers and writers, good listeners, and confident speakers—Lower School students become all of these things through English, modern language, and history classes. Courses are often integrative, inspiring students to connect the intellectual dots.
- Global Education
Community class is where students begin their journey to understanding and appreciating cultural differences. Students see themselves as participants in creating a better world and ready themselves for the global studies that lie ahead.
- Leadership Development
Team-building exercises and strategy games get Lower School students thinking about leadership. Students also organize food drives and reach out to migrant children and essential workers as they initiate a lifetime of community engagement. Class IV serves lunch twice a year at the All Souls Church.
Igniting a sense of wonder through books, the library encourages students to explore, while cultivating critical literacy skills with a focus on reading about diverse characters and experiences through an equity lens. Students experience stories through poetry, theatre, art, and song while learning the foundations of research and information practices.
- Student Life
Nightingale’s Hobbyhorse has no shortage of activities and invites girls to play chess or tennis, practice yoga, create robotics, breakdance or code a new video game. The program creates fun ways for our community to continue bonding after school.
- Physical Education
The K-IV physical education program brings students the joy of movement while developing their self-confidence. Nightingale’s physical education program helps develop better socialization, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship.
- Performing Arts
The Lower School music program revolves around singing, movement, playing instruments, and improvisation. It invites students to take risks, listen, and trust their instincts. Musical literacy and performance skills are taught using every genre.
- Visual Arts
Along with hands-on classes where they make art, Lower School students also visit up to 30 museums. Nightingale’s visual education program also uses art to teach English, social studies, geography, math, modern languages, and technology.