The Lower School consists of Kindergarten through Grade 4. The school day is from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The curriculum insures continuity and allows a smooth transition from one grade to the next. Each student is encouraged to develop independence and a sense of responsibility. The acquisition of these abilities helps foster a positive self-image and set the foundation of learning as a lifelong endeavor. The academic program concentrates on the development of basic skills and good work habits. The students learn and refine the skills that they will rely upon and hone for the rest of their academic career.
Lower School classes utilize the Balanced Literacy approach to teaching reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students learn skills, strategies, and develop attitudes and habits about learning that will help them be successful learners. Mathematics is taught using the Singapore Math program which focuses on inroducing fewer concepts eac year allowing for mastery. Singapore Math emphasizes introducing concepts following a concrete, to picoral, to abstract continuum. Science and Central Theme (social studies and geography) are the final core components of the academic program. In addition to the core curriculum, classes in music, studio art, Spanish, life skills, physical education, athletics (participation in an after-school sports league beginning in fourth grade that includes basketball, volleyball, and track), and religious education are all part of the St. James education.
Classroom activities, assemblies, field trips and 4th Grade athletics represent concrete opportunities for the Lower School students to grow both individually and as members of a group. Teachers integrate authentic literature related to topics taught in Science and Central Theme. The combination of literature and reading skills taught through guided reading and writing enables students to learn transference by practicing with content for which they are being held responsible.