Brooklyn private independent school

Academic Subjects


Literacy is woven through every aspect of the curriculum. It begins with a solid foundation in letters and sounds. Our K-2 multisensory phonics program, Fundations®, focuses on letter formation and handwriting, phonics, word and sentence structure and ultimately reading as a way of understanding language. 

In Literacy (K-2) or Humanities (3-4) and Writers Workshops (K-4), students develop grade appropriate skills at their level through whole group, small group and one-to-one instruction. Through the lens of equity, we view the workshop model as a way of providing individual students with what they need, when they need it. Additionally, privileging student voice and choice are important aspects of our literacy programming.

All of our classrooms are literature- and print-rich environments, and reading is a part of each Lower School student’s day. In addition to word study and development of vocabulary, children are exposed to many different genres of literature through class read-alouds as they become engaged in reading for information and pleasure.


Math is foundational to a student’s experience at, and well beyond Lower School. Our goal is to teach students skills and to inspire students to think about the identity associated with being a mathematician. We aim to have every child progress in their ability and confidence. By the end of Lower School, it is our hope that every child sees themselves as a mathematician! 

Mathematics programming is grounded in developing deep conceptual understanding and computational fluency. At the Lower School this means using routines, games, and math talks throughout the day and integrating math across disciplines and subject matter.

We focus on building children’s number sense, expanding their understanding of place value and operations and developing computational fluency for accurate, efficient and flexible problem solving. Our math curriculum draws from two programs — TERC Investigations and Contexts for Learning — and uses a variety of best practices to teach right to children’s needs. Students explore concepts, share strategies and apply their skills to solve real-world problems. For example, third graders work in teams to run a fictitious factory and use their math skills to track inventory and orders and keep the books.


The Lower School Social Studies curriculum focuses very early on identity, community, and empathy, guiding our students towards becoming compassionate and informed global citizens. We think first about what it means to be an individual, and then increase student awareness of ever-widening circles outside of themselves.

One of the pivotal components of our Social Studies program is the opportunity for children to engage in sustained research. Through this approach, we encourage our students to delve deeper into various topics, explore diverse perspectives, and think critically about what they are learning. Sustained research empowers them to take ownership of their learning and encourages a genuine curiosity about the world around them.

As students progress in the Lower School they attend research classes, where they learn about the power and responsibility of research and knowledge creation. They learn how to take notes, cite sources, curate resources, and critically examine sources for biases within them. As classes research topics related to our own country’s history, they think about what it means that not everyone’s story can be easily located in the resources available to us. They learn to ask whose viewpoint is being represented and whose is being left out.


The library and research program develops students’ abilities to effectively use libraries and information technology. Research units are planned in collaboration with classroom teachers and specialists at every grade level, from PreK through fourth grade. In third and fourth grade our librarian and STEAM specialists push into the classroom to team teach and support the students’ research, which we lovingly call STEAM-bRary. The capital R stands for Research.  Students have opportunities to build skills around locating and identifying quality sources, providing citation information, synthesizing and then presenting what they have learned.
The Lower School has two libraries!  The 712 Carroll Street Library serves PreK through 1st Grade students and teachers. This top-floor, bright space is stocked with books geared to the interests of our youngest students.  The 701 Carroll Street Library provides a space for 2nd through 4th grade library classes and independent student work as well as collaboration. Students use our digital and analog resources for research, exploring the collection to read for both pleasure and information.


The STEAM Hub is a collaborative learning space specifically designed for first through fourth grade students. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. In the STEAM Hub, students engage in projects, activities and discussions that focus on developing skills in these areas in an integrated way. While there is a specialized STEAM curriculum, the overall goal is to make connections with classroom and other specialists’ programs.

First and second grade students delve into technology in the broadest sense of the word and have opportunities to build models and prototypes with a variety of materials. Engineering and design challenges are provocations created to strengthen their problem-solving skills as they become familiar with the iterative design process. Students apply the iterative design process  “Think, Plan, Do, Review,” an approach to problem-solving. They learn that success is not solely about reaching a final outcome, but also about embracing the excitement of learning and refining their ideas along the way.

Third and fourth grade students have access to the STEAM Hub during “STEAM-bRary”,  Digital Essentials classes and various other project work times. An aspect of our STEAM program revolves around important discussions and activities related to digital citizenship. We promote a responsible and ethical approach to technology use, ensuring that students develop a strong understanding of online safety and responsible digital behavior.

In our rapidly evolving digital world, it is important for students to see themselves as active creators and contributors, not just passive consumers. In the STEAM Hub, students have the freedom to explore new ideas, experiment with different solutions, and express their creativity through digital projects using coding. 

Coding is an important tool in the Lower School for practicing essential skills like computational thinking, a problem-solving approach that involves breaking down complex problems into smaller, manageable steps. As students learn various coding methods, practice the design thinking process, and gain a solid foundation in computational thinking, we imagine that students will not only USE apps, but BUILD them!


We believe that language is intrinsic to the expression of culture. One of the gifts of learning a language is the ability to form connections with people from different parts of the world. When our students learn languages, they not only acquire the means to communicate with others but also gain a deeper understanding of cultural contexts. 

Our Spanish language curriculum is designed with a clear progression, ensuring that each level builds upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the previous years.  We firmly believe in building a solid speaking and listening foundation for successful language acquisition. Through interactive activities, conversations, and games, we engage lower school students in meaningful language practice, encouraging them to confidently communicate in Spanish. 

As our students progress through the Lower School, we gradually introduce reading and writing skills to further enhance their language proficiency. These skills are taught in age-appropriate ways, ensuring that students build upon the solid oral foundation they have developed in the early years.  This continuity facilitates a smooth transition as students advance to Middle and Upper School.

Our teachers, with intention and care, create an environment where Spanish is used extensively during lessons and activities in Lower School classrooms. Partial immersion occurs in Pre- K3 and Pre - K4 and Spanish is a special that meets three to four times in a 6 day cycle in Kindergarten and Grades 1-4, respectively. We believe that by surrounding students in the Lower School with the language, they become more comfortable and proficient in their communication.

We firmly believe that language is not just a tool for communication but also an integral part of expressing and understanding culture.  Berkeley Carroll Lower School students learn about the cultures, values, beliefs, customs and people from Spanish- speaking countries.  They develop an appreciation for diversity and begin to recognize and celebrate the richness of various traditions, art forms, and ways of life from the Spanish speaking world. This cultural appreciation nurtures empathy and a willingness to understand and respect the perspectives of others.


The Lower School science program focuses on discovery through asking questions, testing, observing, building, mixing, creating and exploring. We teach students to make and test hypotheses and use effective inquiry to learn about a variety of topics. Students in PreK through fourth grade work with science specialists to learn through hands-on study and exploration of the natural and built world, and draw from developmentally appropriate topics from physics, chemistry, earth science, life science, ecology and the human body. 
In the older grades, we integrate citizen science projects and field trips that connect classroom learning to New York City's natural history and urban systems. This hands-on experience prompts community involvement and allows students to witness real-world applications of scientific concepts.
In our science classes, we address age-appropriate topics related to body parts, puberty, and reproduction as part of our comprehensive Health and Human Sexuality curriculum. We approach these subjects with sensitivity and age-appropriate content, ensuring that students receive accurate and developmentally appropriate information. 


Berkeley Carroll's Lower School Arts program comprises both visual and performing arts, ensuring that students have the opportunity to discover and engage in a wide range of artistic mediums. From drawing , painting and ceramics to music and dance, our students explore various forms of creative expression.

Visual Arts

From PreK through fourth grade, we believe that the process of creating art is just as important as the final product. Our students learn the value of the artistic process, which involves careful planning, revision, and refining their ideas. This approach instills patience, perseverance, and the willingness to embrace challenges, all the while helping children to create artwork that is distinctly their own. 
A rotating display of children’s work adorns our walls year-round. We celebrate the individuality of each student's artistic expression. Our art program encourages students to develop their unique styles and voices, empowering them to create artwork that reflects their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. 


The dance program offers an enriching and inclusive experience for children from PreK through third grade. Whether they are taking their first steps in dance or exploring the art of choreography, our dance program champions a love for movement and creative expression
Our youngest learners in PreK through kindergarten are introduced to the fundamentals of movement and dance. Through age-appropriate activities, they develop coordination, balance, and body awareness while discovering the joy of dance.
As students progress into the older grades, they have the opportunity to explore choreography. They learn to create their own dance works, allowing their imagination to come to life through movement. Additionally, they have the chance to interpret the works of great dancers, deepening their appreciation for the art form.


Our approach to music education in the Lower School is experiential, aiming to provide students with meaningful and immersive musical experiences. Music teachers are trained professionals in the Orff Schulwerk and Kodály approaches, which have proven to be effective and engaging methods for fostering musical creativity and comprehension. We believe that music is best learned through active participation and hands-on experiences. Students are encouraged to engage with music through singing, playing instruments, movement, and creative expression.
Our music program is inclusive, ensuring that all students, regardless of their musical background or abilities, can actively participate and find joy in music-making. We celebrate the diversity of musical traditions from around the world. Through exposure to various musical styles and cultures, we focus on broadening students' musical horizons and furthering cultural understanding.
Our Music curriculum is designed to provide a sequential and progressive learning experience, building upon previously acquired musical skills and knowledge as students advance through the Lower School.  Students in PreK through fourth grade learn traditional music notation, make music with various percussion instruments and in upper elementary learn to play the xylophones, recorder and the ukulele.
Throughout their time in the Lower School, students are encouraged to develop their singing abilities, nurturing their vocal talents and confidence in performing. They learn that their voice is a powerful instrument and how to use it.
Above all, we want our students to experience the joy and fun of making music!


The Berkeley Carroll Athletic Center houses a pool, a gymnasium and fitness center. Students in Lower School have classes in physical education and aquatics. 


Children in kindergarten through fourth grade swim in our pool once per six-day cycle for an hour. They are taught the four basic strokes, breathing techniques and diving, preparing them for competitive swimming in the older grades.

Physical Education

The physical education classes (PreK-4) emphasize cooperation, good sportsmanship and lifelong fitness as the children are taught fundamental skills they may use competitively in Middle and Upper School.


We recognize the importance of play and downtime for our youngest students as they navigate their busy school days. As such, we introduce homework gradually, with a focus on promoting a love for reading and reinforcing essential skills.

In first and second grade, we encourage students to spend at least 30 minutes each night engaging in reading activities. This may involve being read to by an adult, reading independently, or a combination of both. We value the bond created when children and adults share the joy of reading together, and we believe that a strong foundation in literacy is important to future academic success.

In third and fourth grade, we continue to prioritize reading for at least 30 minutes each night. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to practice skills and complete work to reinforce their learning. This approach to homework helps students develop responsibility and time management skills while allowing them to engage in meaningful independent learning.

Homework is designed to complement and reinforce classroom learning rather than becoming overwhelming or burdensome. We want our students to have time for family, extracurricular activities, and hobbies, ensuring a healthy and balanced life outside of school.

Our teachers are dedicated to providing clear expectations and support for students with their homework. They are available to answer questions and offer guidance as needed, ensuring that students feel confident in their independent work.