At the Berkeley Carroll Lower School, we wholeheartedly embrace the belief that all learning is interconnected and multifaceted, encompassing social, emotional, cognitive, and cultural dimensions. We recognize that for true learning to flourish, our students must feel a sense of belonging, safety, and care.
We are dedicated to providing our youngest learners with a joyful and engaging schooling experience. Our approach to education is rooted in research-based practices that foster a love for learning and encourage active exploration. Our curriculum not only focuses on building essential skills but also connects to the big ideas of identity and our shared humanity.
We believe that when students feel a sense of belonging and emotional well-being, they are better equipped to engage with academic challenges and take risks in their learning journey. Our supportive and nurturing environment allows students to feel safe to express themselves, share their ideas, and learn from both successes and setbacks.
By integrating the big ideas of identity and our shared humanity into the curriculum, we encourage our students to think beyond themselves. They develop empathy and an understanding of diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of compassion and inclusivity. Our goal is to empower students to imagine a better future for themselves and others, becoming proactive and caring contributors to society.
Welcome to the Lower School where the Carroll Street brownstones serve as the heart of our preschool and elementary programs. As you step into our buildings, you will witness vibrant and materials-rich environments that encourage active, hands-on learning in flexible and dynamic spaces.
Our commitment to fostering a love for learning is evident in the joyful atmosphere that permeates our Lower School spaces. You will hear the laughter and excitement of our students as they eagerly share their latest discoveries and engage in meaningful discussions with their peers and teachers.
At Berkeley Carroll we take great pride in creating an inclusive and connected community. Our mission is reflected in every aspect of our program, from our welcoming staff to our diverse and enriching curriculum. We believe that every child has unique talents and abilities, and we endeavor to nurture their passions and interests, allowing them to flourish academically and personally.
Our learning spaces are designed to inspire creativity and collaboration. Students are encouraged to explore and investigate, fostering a spirit of inquiry and curiosity. We believe that learning is an active and dynamic process, and our teachers are dedicated to providing engaging and innovative educational experiences that empower our students to become cosmopolitan, compassionate and critical thinkers.
Social Emotional Learning Approaches used at the Lower School
We are committed to providing our students with age-appropriate challenges that advance their growth and development. When faced with problems or conflict, we encourage resilience and patience. By leveraging effective strategies to manage their emotions and think creatively, our students become active participants in problem-solving. These essential skills and abilities extend beyond individual problem-solving and conflict resolution. They naturally affect all aspects of our students' learning experiences. They become more confident in approaching academic challenges, more willing to take risks, and more open to seeking help and collaboration with their peers and teachers.
As educators, we recognize the importance of not only imparting academic knowledge but also nurturing essential life skills. We aim to empower our students to become well-rounded individuals who can face challenges with determination, work collaboratively, and navigate through complex situations with empathy and discernment.
To facilitate an ideal learning environment for children, our faculty are trained in research- based approaches in Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). These approaches are not stand alone, rather they are infused in all aspects of a student’s life at the Lower School.
- Responsive Classroom - Is a student-centered approach to building community and accountability for one's actions. Students consider, “How am I responsible for my and other’s learning? What’s my impact on those around me? How do I navigate being part of a group?”
- RULER - Are tools and practices from Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence that identifies five skills of social-emotional intelligence, expands our understanding of emotions, explores their role, and enhances the capacity for self regulation.
- Restorative Practices - Our approach to conflict resolution is grounded in a restorative approach to learning. We use conflict as an opportunity for growth and learning. We coach our students to think flexibly, use their voice, and consider the perspectives of others involved. This fosters a sense of empathy and understanding, promoting a positive and supportive learning environment.
Diversity Equity and Belonging in the Lower School
Foundational to our mission of preparing our students for a life of critical, ethical and global thinking, we believe in creating inclusive communities for our diverse learners and explicitly teaching students strategies for caring for oneself and others.
We strive to create an inclusive community in the Lower School through explicit anti-bias curriculum on each grade level. This curriculum provides students with opportunities to learn about the topics related to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality and other identifiers in age-appropriate ways.
The goal of the program is to prevent the development of biases by helping children explore their personal identity as they come to recognize and respect the identity of others; we want each and every child to be affirmed in their experience and to value the diversity of perspectives within our community and our society. Our hope is to give students the tools they need to grow up healthy and strong in our often inequitable society.
Our youngest students begin by learning about one another, their families, and the school community. As they grow older, students learn about the broader world--the neighborhood, the city, and our country--and begin to develop an understanding for the ways various aspects of our identity shape our lives, both today and historically.
Our objective is that students will seek to learn about and embrace a diversity of perspectives as they recognize and appreciate differences among people. We aim to help children recognize inequity and the harm it does as we provide them with language and skills to work against bias, prejudice and injustice.
Through storytelling, read-alouds, visual and creative arts, students see and hear narratives around sophisticated topics related to their own identity and the identity of others. These powerful tools for learning provide accessible entry points for students to develop language around important topics.
The Importance of Play
We are deeply committed to providing ample time for various types of play throughout the child's day. We recognize that play is an important element linked to enhancing cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development in children.
Through play, children develop and refine their approaches to learning. With great intention, we weave play into the fabric of our entire Lower School experience, not restricting it to just recess or physical education classes. Instead, play is integrated into all learning environments at every grade level! For instance, on any given day, you might observe children in the Lower School building and working together to design, test, and evaluate a structure until they achieve the desired outcome. As children grow in age, the sophistication of play and the materials they use naturally evolve. By observing collaborative play, we can clearly see how play is a form of learning in itself.
Since play is inherently enjoyable, children are motivated to overcome frustration and persist in the face of challenges. During these activities, children are actively negotiating and communicating their ideas while also integrating the perspectives of their peers. As children engage in play activities, you will hear them creating narratives and expressing delight in their discoveries.
Play is not only a means of exploration but also a platform for storytelling and imaginative expression. Through play, children develop a deeper understanding of the world around them and express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Play is an integral part of childhood. It supports holistic development and provides a natural and enjoyable pathway for children to explore, learn, and grow.