In a small, connected, and diverse environment, students in Kew-Forest’s Lower School grow as scholars and as citizens, guided by teachers who understand and value each child. Lower School teachers emphasize respect, trust, collaboration and communication in order to foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners. We hold ourselves to the standards of respect for ourselves, respect for one another, and respect for our environment.
Lower School teachers have been trained in Responsive Classroom: an approach to teaching that emphasizes respect for students, trust, collaboration and communication. The program's practical strategies foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners. The guiding principles of Responsive Classroom shape our classroom communities and inform our educational philosophy and approach to Personal Development in the Lower School.
Community is very important in the Lower School. Every six days, the entire Lower
School meets in the Upper School library for a Morning Assembly. Assemblies are divided between Topical Assemblies; Grade­ Level Performance Assemblies; Sharing Assemblies, which give students the opportunity to share what they have been exploring in the classroom or outside on field trips; and Buddy Assemblies, which encourage interaction between cross­grade buddies as they work together on enriching activities. Teachers also reinforce the importance of community within their classrooms, where they emphasize respect, trust, collaboration and communication in order to foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners. 
Lower School students engage in service learning experiences throughout the school year.  Drawing on our community standards of respect for ourselves, respect for one another, and respect for the environment, our students experience the joys of service in our community. Our core service learning project focuses on positively affecting our local environment. 
We connect citizenship with sustainability by reducing our environmental footprint in myriad ways—including from the “ground” up by composting our organic waste from our lunch program. Upper Elementary students lead the composting effort during lunch, and they spend time each week at recess adding the new compost to our Earth Machines. In the spring, all of our students reap the rewards in our own Aldo’s Green Garden. Additionally, in the fall and spring, students weed, rake, plant, and "dig in the dirt" in Aldo’s Green and Forest Park. This opportunity to spend time outdoors while giving back to Kew-Forest's "backyard" reinforces our students' enjoyment of nature and appreciation of the difference that they can make to the environment, even in a short time period. We also make a conscious effort throughout the year to teach the students about reducing, reusing, and recycling through Assemblies and classroom activities. The Lower School community participates to manage, grow and harvest our raised bed gardens in Aldo’s Green for a variety of purposes.
Additionally, Lower School students lead food drives, advocate for animals in need, and participate in inter-generational outreach experiences, among others.

List of 7 items.

  • Early Childhood 3s and 4s

    Personal development in the Early Childhood Development program is learning how to be a part of a class and school community. Social interaction is the primary lens through which a child views much of the world. They are learning about the process of developing and nurturing socially and emotionally secure relationships with peers and teachers in caring for others as well as themselves, understanding community norms such as listening and responding, respect for personal space and playing and working together cooperatively and in friendship. Students are acquiring strategies in becoming more independent with self-care responsibilities such as responding to personal needs and developing self-regulatory behaviors. Additionally, they are gaining the capacity to become strong risk-takers through the understanding of making mistakes as a necessary part of the “how to” and “I can” experience.  
    Young children strive for autonomy and purpose. They want to try and do! We, as teachers, strive to support these efforts by providing choices in the classroom that include what to play with, or who to play with and encouragement to make choices that have positive and happy outcomes for their school experiences. Making independent choices perpetuates self-reliance and promotes self-esteem. We also engage in the process of guiding children in friendly ways of talking with each other and working together. Courteous words such as “please” and “thank you” are encouraged and modeled. Throughout the year we use the language of “making good choices”. At times the children will need support in reflecting on behaviors that might have negative outcomes. For example, “How do you think Evan felt when you took his triangle?”  We strive to help children solve conflict in non- confrontational ways.
    Through play, the students are learning to express goals and wishes and learning to work together. To facilitate this process, we talk about playing safe games. We encourage the children to create collaborative games and to use their imagination. Play centers in the classroom are designed to facilitate this kind of creative play.  Through play, the children are exploring differences between fantasy and reality, and making sense of their everyday experiences. 

    In early childhood, students are given many opportunities to develop fine motor skills that lead to improved self-care (zippering, buttoning, snapping), increased muscle control and stronger hand-eye coordination for using drawing and writing materials. Children manipulate objects using tweezers and eye droppers to build grasp-and-release skills and develop pincher control. Activities such as lacing beads on string increases hand-eye coordination, which prepares children for understanding spatial relationships when using writing materials. In addition to the development of gross motor skills in Physical Education class, children are encouraged to control personal space and coordinate body movements to perform tasks within the classroom. Moving in rhythm to simple tunes and music is part of daily classroom routines.
  • Kindergarten

    Personal development in Kindergarten is learning how to treat our peers with respect and show compassion for our friends. Students engage in many group activities in order to learn how to work as a team, and share ideas about the curriculum they are learning. Our Kindergarten students are encouraged to help and to learn from one another. Each student is responsible for cleaning up after him or herself, and learning to take responsibility for his or her actions. Our philosophy in Kindergarten is to express oneself using his or her words.
    The Kindergarten environment provides an active learning process: one in which children interact with each other and materials while engaging in cooperative hands-on learning with day-to-day life experiences. The learning environment in Kindergarten fosters all areas of development–intellectual, language, physical and social–and provides the challenge for each child to learn according to his or her developmental level and individual growth patterns. 
    Children need the opportunity to develop large and small motor skills through indoor and outdoor activities and games for the benefit of personal fitness and well-being. By participating in activities that involve large motor skills, Kindergarteners demonstrate basic loco-motor movements (galloping, hopping, jumping, running, skipping, sliding). By participating in activities that involve small motor skills, students demonstrate increased control of hand and eye coordination while using pegs, beads, pattern blocks, crayons, pencils, paintbrushes, finger-paint, scissors, glue, and a variety of puzzles. Children also develop fine motor skills by holding and using pencils, crayons, and markers using thumb and two fingers.
  • First Grade

    First graders are curious, imaginative, and enthusiastic learners. We tap into this exciting stage of life by creating a climate in which each student can become a contributing participant in the learning process. From day one, the focus is on developing a first grade community in which every member feels safe, has a sense of belonging, and is eager to learn, grow, and carry out the shared responsibilities of classroom citizenship.Only then can a First Grader truly do his or her best work and succeed academically. Research has shown that a balance of social, emotional, and academic learning is essential to the positive development of a child’s cognitive growth and character.
  • Second Grade

    In second grade, students continue to learn to manage and express their thoughts and feelings in a classroom community.  Through read alouds with focus questions, discussions, skits, and activities to support the lesson, students develop a diverse toolbox of skills and strategies that will support their emotional and social experiences in school.
  • Third Grade

    In third grade, children begin to work more independently than they have in the past. Under the guidance of their teacher, students start to develop the skills needed to become responsible for their own academic growth and learning, such as managing materials, utilizing available resources, monitoring comprehension, and self-advocacy. These skills are introduced as whole group lessons, through direct instruction, class discussion, and guided practice. Students are then encouraged to refer to classroom anchor charts and resources in order to navigate the school day with greater independence. 
    Third graders are required to take a more active role in sustaining peer relationships as they become increasingly aware that others have perspectives that may differ from their own. Throughout the school day they are required to work in pairs or small groups and must communicate, collaborate, and compromise with others in order to successfully complete assigned tasks. Students participate actively in structured lessons, which may entail read-alouds, role-playing, and games, designed to build a classroom community by practicing empathy, cooperation, responsibility, and self-control.
    Third graders also participate in a twice-monthly Health and Wellness class. Each class is 30 minutes and touches upon topics such as nutrition, hygiene, sportsmanship, and friendship, amongst others, in an age-appropriate method. The students are given the opportunity to bring concerns of their own to class and peer relationships are addressed in an open-forum setting.
  • Fourth Grade

    In fourth grade, we foster creativity through research projects, book reports, STEM scenarios and problem solving opportunities. Students enhance their collaborative skills as they work in groups daily in reading groups and science partnerships. Critical thinking is encouraged and modeled as students contemplate essential questions, host discussions to analyze text, watch and discuss current events, and deepen their understanding in all academic areas. Communication skills and character are continuously being developed throughout all interactions between students, teachers, and other faculty. These skills and the best strategies are modeled, directly taught and then discussed as needed. Furthermore, fourth grade students deepen their understanding of effective communication through role-play, reflection and application.
    In fourth grade, students are also ready to enhance their understanding of the world. By discussing current events, participating in community service projects, connecting historical events with modern day situations and studying a country in depth for World Day, students at Kew-Forest transition from thinking about their community to drawing conclusions about the world around them. By weaving Responsive Classroom principles and techniques in and out throughout the school day, students are encouraged to establish a community that enables them to develop problem-solving skills, collaboration, and strive towards independence. 
    Students are exposed to a variety of academic and social skills and strategies that serve as important tools to manage their time and productivity, resolve conflicts, reflect and set goals.  With the long-term goals of developing autonomy and building student confidence, the class uses whole class discussions, group work, student-teacher conferences and opportunities for independent work to develop an understanding of each of these elements. Application occurs as students transition from discussing the best strategies to implementing and reflecting on them.
    Expanding on the strategies and skills taught in third grade, fourth graders also begin to work more independently on a consistent basis. During our Daily 5 literacy sessions, where the students choose from five reading and writing choices, they work independently towards their personalized goals and take ownership of their work. Building a community of trust that allows the students to take risks without fear of failure is an important life skill that students need to develop in order to become successful in future endeavors. Children learn the meaning of thinking of others through community projects such as singing to residents of a local senior facility or directing the annual collection of food to be delivered to a soup kitchen. Students in fourth grade mature and grow as upper elementary students and are encouraged to become individuals who are socially aware.
    Like second and third graders, fourth graders participate in a twice-monthly Health and Wellness class. Each class is 30 minutes and touches upon topics such as nutrition, hygiene, sportsmanship, friendship, social media, bullying, self-image, peer pressure, and adolescence, amongst others, in an age-appropriate method. The students will be given the opportunity to bring concerns of their own to class and peer relationships are addressed in an open-forum setting.
  • Fifth Grade

    As fifth graders prepare for middle school, personal development is of the utmost importance. Using the Responsive Classroom curriculum along with targeted social/emotional lessons and activities, students learn skills to increase their independence in both social and academic areas. Personal development lessons consist of one-to-one instruction, teacher-facilitated small group instruction, individual independent work, and collaborative student work. Together, this wide variety of educational strategies reaches students of all learning styles. 
    Fifth graders practice managing time and belongings, monitoring understandings and developing a variety of tools to support successful socialization. The fifth grade develops strong organizational practices using calendars, routines to meet expectations and checklists to best support the management of resources, both time and materials. With practice and reflection, these routines become habits of mind and strong models for future use. Fifth graders are also encouraged to advocate for deeper understanding and efficient use of tools such as graphic organizers or warm-up activities with manipulatives. This mindfulness supports the students as they hone their reasoning and problem solving skills in both social and academic arenas. The end result is that students become critical thinkers and problem solvers that are ready for the Middle School environment. 
    Fifth graders also participate in a twice-monthly Health and Wellness class. Each class is 30 minutes and touches upon topics such as nutrition, hygiene, sportsmanship, friendship, social media, bullying, self-image, peer pressure, and adolescence, amongst others, in an age-appropriate method. The students will be given the opportunity to bring concerns of their own to class and peer relationships are addressed in an open-forum setting.

The Kew-Forest School

119-17 Union Turnpike
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-4667
The oldest independent school in the borough of Queens, The Kew-Forest School is an independent co-educational, college preparatory school for students in Preschool through Grade 12.