Kew-Forest’s Lower School nurtures the growth of happy, engaged children who gain the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind essential for continued success in our challenging and innovative 21st century learning environment—and who are prepared to make a difference as thoughtful, informed members of a global society.
Our teachers know and value each of the students in our care, and the children relate to each other as family. Our intimate learning environment, which boasts a 6:1 student-teacher ratio in Early Childhood and Kindergarten and an 8:1 student-teacher ratio in grades 1-6, inspires young learners to flourish. Lower School teachers continually assess areas of strength and areas for development, and they communicate frequently and effectively to parents about student growth.
Our practices are informed and inspired by our school’s rich educational history and time-honored traditions. Alongside this respect for our school’s heritage lies our shared commitment to preparing students to thrive in the Innovation Age, where skills are just as important as knowledge. Our experienced and thoughtful faculty prioritizes the essential competencies of 21st century education—creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration—and they constantly evaluate and refine their practices to ensure that learning is meaningful and students are engaged. Our classrooms are places of active learning where each student has an opportunity to develop his or her voice within a curriculum that promotes inquiry-based practices, encourages risk taking, and fosters problem solving.
We understand the vital role that involvement in the arts, physical education, foreign language, and cutting-edge technology plays in a high quality educational environment. Experience within each of these areas fosters the development of academic skills as well as social and emotional development, and students create connections to deeper forms of beauty that inform a multi-dimensional understanding of their world. Students from Early Childhood through fifth grade take classes in art, music, Spanish, physical education, library, and technology, taught multiple times a week by specialists who are experts in their fields. These dedicated teachers get to know each student through the course of his or her Lower School experience, providing opportunities for every child to shine each school day.
Our learning community forms a rich and varied tapestry from its individual threads. Our student body represents a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds, and we value the perspectives that each individual contributes to the larger group. Our values around diversity and multicultural education are reflected in our literature choices, annual traditions such as our Lower School International Study, and our use of technology as a window into our wider world. Students gain vital public speaking and performing skills by participating in Sharing Assemblies, grade-level performances, and our Winter and Spring shows, and we make sure every voice is heard.
A Lower School education is one of learning by doing. We use New York City as our classroom, and our frequent field trips enrich and deepen our understanding of academic concepts. From observing flora and fauna in our own school garden to harvesting vegetables during a multi-week farm intensive at the Brooklyn Grange, we know that students learn best through inquiry and exploration. We take creativity and ‘making’ seriously, and students push the boundaries of their own imaginations during innovative classes such as Tinker Time and Interest Hour in our maker spaces, designed in partnership with the New York Hall of Science. We foster citizenship by connecting older and younger children as cross-grade buddies and by holding weekly assemblies as a Lower School community. Students learn the importance of civic engagement by leading composting and food waste awareness initiatives, singing to residents during visits to a local nursing home, creating pieces for our annual Artwork for Animals fundraiser, and organizing our school-wide Food Drive. At Kew-Forest, we are dedicated to the growth of the whole child, within and outside of each classroom’s four walls.
At Kew-Forest, our students love their school, and it shows. We welcome you to visit the Lower School—to enjoy the student artwork lining our hallway, listen to animated class discussions, share in the excitement of ‘big buddies’ reading to their little buddies, and listen to our percussion Orff ensemble keeping the beat of our collective Lower School tune. We’re sure you’ll agree: Kew-Forest is a very special place to learn and to grow!
Katie Rocker Rayer
Head of Lower School