Elementary School Academics
The Elementary School at Vancouver College fosters a love of learning for the students. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 are introduced to a variety of teaching styles from grade to grade, while their lessons are still rooted in strong traditional teaching values. The boys are given clear expectations for behaviour and for work expectations.
The Elementary years begin the road to learning and it is imperative that parents/guardians and the school work closely in order to promote the growth and development of the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social attributes of each individual. Vancouver College holds close the Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education, and it is these elements that are entwined in the elementary education of the boys.
Children do not learn at the same rate. For this reason, the students are supported by flexible programs, learning assistance, and strong parent and teacher communication, in order to bring about desirable progress for all children.
The Kindergarten program at Vancouver College aims to provide a variety of experiences which foster each child's religious, emotional, social, physical, aesthetic, and intellectual development. The teacher's role is to facilitate learning while the student's role is to learn through active involvement and play. Vancouver College offers 2 classes (13 students per class) of full-day Kindergarten.
Grade 1 is a very important year as it sets the tone for the rest of the student's school experience. At Vancouver College, everyone works together to make sure it is a positive one. This is the first year that the boys are in school for a full day and for some, the transition can be difficult. To help with the adjustment, Grade 1 students are dismissed earlier (1:30 pm) for the first two weeks of school. The boys quickly get into the routine of eating lunch with their classmates in the school cafeteria. It is recommended, however, that the boys bring a packed lunch and that parents wait until at least October before ordering lunches. Another new experience is having recess outside with the rest of the elementary classes. All these new experiences make Grade 1 a very exciting year.
Grade 2 is an important year for the growth of each student as it provides the building blocks that will be an asset throughout each student's educational career. In Grade 1, the students are given the tools and in Grade 2, the boys learn to apply these tools while learning new strategies. In Grade 2, students will begin to learn and appreciate their strengths and become more confident learners. Not only is it important to praise each student's individual strengths but also to help them with their weaknesses and ensure that each student is well-rounded. The students learn how to work more independently with less teacher support. The students learn the importance of hard work, respectful behaviour, and classroom participation. Each student's progress is tracked on a daily basis. Students are aware and understand the system which helps them see their progress and encourages them to work harder. The students learn key routines that they follow with ease throughout the year. There is also a focus on creativity, whether in writing or artistic expression. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves to ensure they create the best work they are capable of. Throughout the day there are a variety of activities, such as Explode the Code workbooks, knitting, or math games and centres, that the students can choose to work on independently. As well, there are a lot of activities that the whole class participates in throughout the day, including but not limited to, daily trivia, five minute fitness, and music appreciation. Concepts are reinforced through homework folders which include daily activities, reading, and book reports. Grade 2 is a great year for each individual to learn who they are as students while learning new strategies that will help them in years to come.
Grade 3 at Vancouver College is a year when the boys are preparing for the upcoming intermediate years. The students are eager to learn and the focus of all programs is to encourage a love for life long learning and a strong work ethic. Some of the highlights of the grade three year are visits to the Space Centre and Police Museum. Home Projects are assigned on researching a family treasure, reporting on a planet, presenting information on a famous Canadian site, and building a structure or bridge. Students are expected to spend at least 15 minutes an evening reading and up to 30 minutes doing other assigned homework or work not completed in class. If students are not completing work assigned for homework, they receive an "overdue homework" notice with the assignments listed and a place for parents to sign once the work is complete. Also if a student is absent they will receive a "while you were away" notice with assignments that were missed listed. The students are held accountable for their assignments and repeat offenders do have consequences. Communication is very important between the teacher and parents in grade three. If there are any times when your son is needing reminders regarding his behaviour on a frequent basis, you will be contacted by phone or email. Also if there are any circumstances that may affect your son at school, it is important to let his teacher know as soon as possible.
In Grade 4, the students have a homeroom teacher who teaches the core subjects of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science, HCE, and Religion. The Grade 4 children have specialist teachers for Physical Education, Music, French, and Library. The students in the intermediate grades have a very full and interesting day with experiences in a wide variety of subjects taught by teachers who are enthusiastic about their subject area.
The homeroom teacher is responsible for the boys' emotional well-being; he/she sees them at the start and end of each day and at assemblies and homeroom periods. The Grade 4 teacher is the main contact for the parents in checking on overall progress at school. As well, the homeroom teacher assists each child in organization of belongings and classroom assignments. Grade 4 is a year of transition as students learn to become more independent as intermediate students.
The intermediate teacher is committed to supporting the students to become confident, creative thinkers, and problem-solvers who enjoy the process of learning and willing to take risks. It is an important time of growth for the students and they must feel safe and secure in their learning environment as they explore and become more independent. This is a time of transition for the children as they prepare to move on to a Middle School experience. The teachers of the intermediate grades do their very best to prepare them well to be independent, enthusiastic learners.
Supporting learning at home is another important part of Grade Four. Your child should be doing approximately 45-60 minutes of homework for 5 nights a week. Of course, this varies considerably, depending on the abilities of your child and how much effort he puts into his work. Homework is assigned and written in students' planners everyday. Students' marks will be affected if they do not complete homework on time, or forget their homework at home. When a student has failed to complete his homework, he may be required to stay in at recess. If this happens consistently, parents will be informed. Consequences do not apply to students who are absent due to illness or have a note in their planner about their inability to complete homework. In this case, students will be given the choice to stay in at recess and will hand in the assignment the next day.
Students who are absent from class must see the teacher upon arrival to get the work they missed. If a student is away for more then one day, it is recommended that parents pick up missed work from the teacher so that the student does not fall too far behind.
Grade 5 is the year where we open your boys' eyes to the world with as much variety as possible. This includes exposing your boys to the world of famous painters such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Emily Carr, with special emphasis on Vincent Van Gogh and Emily Carr. Through research and speech making your boys will present "An Evening with Vincent" with the parents present. With Emily Carr, we prepare your boys with a thorough study of her life and paintings before they go on the end of the year annual field trip to Victoria to see her house and cemetery. In the World of Music, your boys are introduced to the world of Vivaldi, Tchaikovasky, Gershwin, Elvis Presley or the Beatles, and four great Canadian singers: Joni Mitchell, Paul Anka, Anne Murray, and Gordon Lightfoot. They prepare for "An Evening with either Elvis Presley or the Beatles" in front of their parents where they present speeches and lip syncs. In the World of Sports, they are introduced to Michael Jordan, Bobby Orr, and Tiger Woods. Emphasis is placed on professional sports, such as football, baseball, basketball, and golf, and students learn about different teams and who to root for. Animals are brought into the classroom so all students can be exposed to the care and handling of precious creatures, such as birds, rabbits, hamsters, fish, ants, crickets, etc. During teaching throughout the day, students are given opportunities to hold on to these animals to get a feel for them and to study their particular behaviors. A Banking system is established in class where children learn how to handle money by earning it through good behaviour, quizzes, etc. All of the above and much more are integrated within the curriculum.
This is the final year in elementary school at Vancouver College. This unique experience provides an opportunity for learning and discovery, as the sixth graders are in a position of leadership spiritually, academically, and socially. At Vancouver College, the focus is on educating and developing the whole student; sixth grade specifically takes a cross-curricular look at global citizenship and social responsibility and justice. The students are encouraged to both learn subjects conceptually and to experience them within the context of their world. One such opportunity for leadership and responsibility is the elementary Environment Club, whose membership is drawn from grade 6 students. This club ensures the elementary school recyclable material is managed and promotes responsible citizenship.
Whether debating the politics involved when natural disaster strikes, developing and implementing Religion projects to aid a chosen cause, or developing a greater respect for nature through education and field studies, each sixth grade student is able to exercise critical thinking and analytical skills and ultimately to enter the middle school with greater self-awareness and potential for success.
Learning assistance for students in Grade 1 – 3 focuses on early reading and writing skills. Specific programs such as The Reading Foundation's "Discover Reading Program", Nanci Bell's "Visualization and Verbalization Comprehension Programs," as well as components from other curriculum based phonics programs are used to aid in the development of these skills.
The primary focus for those students requiring learning assistance in Grades 4 - 6 is to provide subject support and integrate skill building and strategy development. Students requiring extra academic support can be referred by their classroom teacher, Assistant Principal, and their parents. The learning resource teacher may conduct formal and informal testing or the student may be referred for a psycho-educational assessment. In consultation with the classroom teacher, an education program will be developed to suit the needs of the student, which may include writing skills, math skills, comprehension skills and subject support. The learning resource teacher will use a direct instruction approach and work with individual students or provide small group instruction for two to three sessions per week. End of term progress reports are provided and bi-annual IEP meetings are held to discuss the student's goals and progress.
Grade level teachers work closely with the Learning Centre teacher to ensure that areas of weakness are targeted. In turn, subject support or concept teaching is given when necessary and integrated into the student's program.
Informal testing is conducted throughout the year in order to accurately assess progress and make the necessary changes to a student's program. A Psycho-educational assessment may be necessary in order to determine more specifically how to help a struggling student.
Individual Educational Planning (IEP) reports are drawn up for each student. These reports identify the child's learning needs and alter as the child's learning needs change. All students who visit the LAC have an IEP.