Lower School (Grades K–5)
SHA fosters curiosity, independence, and a lifelong love of learning. The curriculum for both general and Judiac studies is designed to meet the needs of each student. SHA deeply believes in educating the whole child, which includes social-emotional learning and SHA’s core values: be ready, responsible, and respectful; feel with empathy, act with kindness, and build community.
Set in a dreamy, light-filled room, kindergarten is the joyous first step in the SHA learning journey. The curriculum embraces three main themes: gather, grow, and migrate, which reflect both the lessons and the children’s evolution throughout the year. Kindergarten is a time of great learning, including early Hebrew and English literacy, discovery-based math, introductory handwriting instruction, writer’s workshop, a family immigration unit, and Judaic studies meant to inspire Jewish pride and Biblical awareness in young students. Thanks to nurturing teachers who embrace art, music, and social-emotional development, kindergarten is a happy place that sets children up for success.
The foundation for strong literacy skills starts in kindergarten, where students learn phonics, get inspiration from their natural surroundings, and cultivate an initial love of reading and writing. Throughout the grades, reading and writing workshops build students’ critical thinking, research, debate, and comprehension abilities, so that they come away able to interpret and apply their knowledge. SHA uses Handwriting without Tears and teaches cursive. Students celebrate their learning achievements with presentations, performances, and publication parties. SHA’s beautiful Behar Library is stocked with age-appropriate books and Judaic literature available for borrowing.
SHA uses the Singapore Math and Go Math! curricula, which guide students through conceptual understanding, fluency, and application, while also improving and building on foundational skills. Teachers differentiate instruction, building and reinforcing foundational math skills that translate from the classroom to real life.
Science includes a strong focus on the natural world, including geology, the salmon cycle, ecosystems, weather patterns, and biology — supported with hands-on activities and field trips when possible. Science is integrated into literacy, social studies, and art, with complementary activities that reinforce comprehension from many angles.
SHA values a strong understanding of American and world history. Students are introduced to colonial history, westward expansion, the Civil Rights movement, national and world geography, and famous peacemakers and world-changers. Scholastic News proves an invaluable resource for learning about current events in age-appropriate ways. Independent research projects give students the confidence to study and present on historical figures and issues. Included in social studies is the Project SHAlom philosophy, which emphasizes respect and empathy in the classroom and beyond.
Hebrew and Judaics
Hebrew and Judaics at SHA emphasizes Chumash, modern Hebrew, and Jewish texts and observances. Students come out of lower school with deep familiarity in Hebrew and English with major Biblical stories and weekly Torah portions, as well as knowledge of Halachic concepts, Mishna, midrash, and the ability to read Rashi script. Hebrew fluency is an ongoing project at SHA, bolstered when possible by shinshinim (Israeli emissaries). Fostering a love of Israel and the Jewish people is central to the SHA family. Israeli history and its national holidays are taught and celebrated, including Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim. At SHA, Jewish holidays are celebrated with joy and hands-on experiences, from arts and crafts to carnivals and parties. SHA provides age-appropriate lessons about the Holocaust and observance of Yom HaShoah every year. As part of the Jewish ethos, SHA also constantly encourages tzedakah and giving back. Throughout the year, our passionate teachers lead food drives for the Jewish Family Service Polack Food Bank and remind students of the importance of gemilut chasadim.
Students pray together daily and alternate Ashkenazic and Sephardic customs and tunes, reflecting the Jewish diversity of our city and student body. Younger grades celebrate their learning with culminating presentations, where pride for their learning accomplishments is on full display when they receive their first siddur and Chumash. Each year, students build on their Tefilah knowledge, and girls and boys alike become confident leaders.
SHA’s art program is an integral part of the day. Each grade focuses on a different technique, including clay, paper mache, shading, and stitching. SHA has its own kiln, out of which come myriad creations, from pinch pots to ceramic animals. Students also experience the Jewish cycle through art, from model sukkot to paper mache sufganiyot for Hanukkah. SHA’s halls are proudly decorated with student projects.
SHA’s K-8 physical education program covers fundamental fitness and the basics of team sports. Emphasis is placed on developing motor skills while fostering respect and responsibility for others and the self. Students at this level find time for experimentation, practice, and decision making, and they develop personal health and fitness habits that they will carry with them into the future and into their own lives. The physical education program is derived from nationally accredited standards and meets the Washington state academic standards for health and fitness.
Students participate in block coding challenges on Code.org
, eventually leading to coding in HTML and CSS. Students move at their own pace and enjoy familiar games, like Minecraft, that incorporate coding into game-play. Additionally, students are allowed to play side games and challenges that focus on creativity within the coding curriculum.