On any given day in the Lower School, you will see classrooms filled with boys who are actively engaged in all aspects of learning: from good-morning handshakes and partner reading to coding robots and editing peer stories. We believe that the Lower School years are a period when childhood should be maintained and celebrated. We also believe that kindergarten through fourth grade is when foundational academic and social skills should be taught, refined, and applied. At the center of all that we do is a dedication to understanding how boys learn best. Experience and research supports our work and drives our innovations.

List of 9 items.

  • Language Arts

    In the Lower School, boys learn how to be active readers, writers, and thinkers. We believe that to increase skills and fluency, boys need ample opportunity to both read and write. Our approach to teaching reading and writing is informed by research and science. As such, literacy development starts with the use of a systematic and explicit phonics program called Fundations (Kindergarten – Grade 4). This approach underscores the importance of developing foundational phonological skills that strengthen reading comprehension, spelling, handwriting, and more! Combining a strong phonics program with reading and writing instruction steeped in meaning, practice, and context, ensures that our Lower School boys become strong readers and writers who connect deeply with texts and who value the learning gleaned from fiction and nonfiction alike.
  • Math

    Understanding and problem-solving are at the heart of the Bridges Math Program in the Lower School. Through hands-on learning and game-based activities, boys develop numeracy, a critical component to both understanding and efficiency in math. Questions like "How do you know that?", "Can you solve that another way?", and "What can you use to solve that?" drive our program. Boys are challenged to think critically and solve efficiently. Though often seen as a "binary subject," Bridges math helps the boys understand that math is really about solving problems creatively and purposefully.

    For more information on the background and research behind our Math Program, click here
  • Social Studies

    In the Lower School, the Social Studies curriculum is about heart, connection, and humanity. Each grade level addresses meaningful topics through essential questions like, “What is a community?” “What is my role in my community?” “How does geography influence culture?” In Social Studies, students take deep dives into the social, cultural, geographical, historical, and institutional implications surrounding their studies, often using reading, writing, and math as academic drivers. Social Studies provide an additional programmatic experience for the boys to be reflective, opinionated, curious, and engaged. 
  • STEM

    STEM in the Lower School is about discovery, inquiry, and active application. Taught in small groups of 12 students, STEM instruction focuses on asking questions and turning them into actionable experiences in which the boys extend their understanding and apply their scientific skills. In addition to natural science topics, every boy is challenged to think, plan, and create within four domains: Robotics, Digital Creation, Physical Computing, and Fabrication. Experiments — like the sunlight reflection / refraction project in Kindergarten and the biomes experiment in Grade 3 — highlight how the boys make their learning hands-on, visible, and meaningful. STEM is all about building and applying relevant science, technology, engineering, and maths skills, and — perhaps more importantly — STEM underscores the importance of showing resilience, patience, persistence, and empathy.
  • World Languages

    World Language instruction in the Lower School is designed to spark curiosity and interest in the language and the cultures in which it is spoken. Starting in Grade 3, students experience an entire year of Spanish instruction and then move on to a year of Mandarin in Grade 4. Through games, songs, call-and-response activities, and small-group work, our boys learn the basic grammar and vocabulary necessary to express themselves in age and developmentally appropriate ways. An emphasis on cultural awareness is equally important as boys learn about the Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking worlds and the diversity of cultures and peoples who live within them. By Grade 5, our students are ready to engage more deeply with either their Spanish or their Mandarin studies as they choose a focus for their Upper School years.
  • Art

    The Lower School art program at Cathedral School for Boys affords the boys the opportunity to express themselves using the language of the visual arts. The fundamental visual elements of line, shape, texture, value, color, form and space are explored and approached as the vowel sounds in learning this visual language. Artworks from all cultures are examined through this lens and with practice each boy develops holistically with a global attitude of art and culture.
  • Performing Arts

    We believe that there is an artist in every boy and that learning comes from hands-on practice and experience. In music and performing arts, boys not only learn about sound, tempo, rhythm, musical notation, and choral singing, every boy in the Lower School performs at some level every year. We believe that great learning comes from performance and that through this experience, boys refine their public speaking and drama skills.
  • Technology

    We believe technology encompasses a range of tools and devices that support the growth and learning of our students and is inseparable from learning in the 21st century. Through a balanced approach, where devices and screens are used intentionally and in sync with hands-on learning, our students have even more opportunities to thrive in the classroom. In Lower School, students build foundational technology skills that include typing, digital media creation, coding, and robotics. Devices are used in developmentally appropriate ways across subject areas, and simultaneously, students learn about mindfulness with technology use so that they can become responsible, productive, and creative digital citizens at Cathedral School and beyond.
  • Co-Lead Teaching Model

    The Lower School has co-lead teachers in kindergarten through third grade. The Co-Lead Model is one in which two experienced classroom teachers actively teach, plan, and assess alongside each other in one classroom. The benefits of this model are many, including greater collaboration, communication, and student engagement. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the reduction of the student to teacher ratio. With co-lead teachers, the class size is reduced from 2:24 to 1:12 and in some cases, 1:6. Smaller student to teacher ratios result in improved student engagement and learning, as teachers are better able to assess and plan for instruction.
Jacqueline Kurzer
Director of Lower School


Learn More about Our Co-Lead Teaching Model

Cathedral School for Boys

Located in San Francisco, California, Cathedral School for Boys is an independent elementary school for boys in Kindergarten – Grade 8. Our mission is to provide an excellent education through intellectual inquiry and rigor that is centered in the Episcopal tradition and is respectful of and welcoming to people of all religious traditions and beliefs.