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The Lower School Academic Experience
During their Fessenden Lower School years, boys in Pre-Kindergarten through Fourth Grade dive into their learning through core academic subjects and enriching specials. Our independent boys school helps students discover who they are as learners, uncover and unleash new passions, and explore how to become kind and compassionate members of their school communities and beyond.

Our Lower School faculty are experts in all things boys. They intentionally tap into the interests of their students to help guide curricular topics, and masterfully weave in multi-sensory, hands-on components, collaborative opportunities, and social-emotional learning to propel their students forward.
Lower School at a glance

Lower School Grades at a Glance

In the Lower School, boys are grouped together in class with language arts, math, and social studies being taught each day by a homeroom teacher. To inspire beyond the core classes, the boys enjoy enrichment opportunities including art, music, science, physical education, Spanish, library, and technology—allowing them to explore topics that expand their minds and enhance their experience. 

Paired with academics, character education is rooted in the School’s core values of honesty, compassion, and respect. Teaching boys how to become thoughtful and supportive community members is woven intentionally throughout each and every day, strengthening integrity and laying the foundation for years to come. 

Differentiation in a Fessenden Classroom

Our faculty specializes in meeting each boy where he is during different points along his educational journey.

Through observation and assessment, our Lower School faculty discover students’ strengths and opportunities for growth, teaching the whole class in a way that is fun, interesting, and meets the needs of all students to ensure the intended learning outcomes. In providing boys with small group instruction opportunities, time with reading or math specialists, and appropriately challenging work, teachers keep all students engaged, excited, and curious as they learn.

Pre-Kindergarten Program
A preschool boy in class

Pre-Kindergarten Program at The Fessenden School

Fessenden’s Pre-K program works with boys’ natural enthusiasm and curious nature, channeling it toward a love of learning. Utilizing a whole child approach, our developmentally-appropriate curriculum introduces an academic foundation with a focus on social emotional learning, self-expression, and building a strong sense of belonging and community. Alongside handwriting, fine motor skills, foundational pre-reading, and early math skills like counting and patterning, our boys learn that talking about feelings is a good thing, taking care of each other is valued, and learning in a diverse setting is something to be celebrated everyday. From learning letter sounds through movement, to filling up the kindness jar by completing acts of kindness, to a number scavenger hunt around the classroom, there is no shortage of engaging activities that reinforce a love of learning and community!

Fessenden’s Pre-Kindergarten program offers a full-day, blended-day, or half-day options so that parents may choose the best opportunity for their child and family.

Kindergarten at Fessenden
a group of kindergarteners listen to a teacher

Boys Kindergarten at The Fessenden School

Kindergarten at Fessenden is about building on boys’ enthusiasm for school and providing them with educational experiences that will fuel their academic progress for years to come. With a continued focus on social emotional learning, boys continue to develop a stronger foundation of reading, writing, and mathematics, and are nurtured and challenged in ways that prepare them for the more independent learning. We balance skill development with creative play, movement, and respect for one another and our community. Publishing parties to celebrate each boy’s "All About Me!" book, learning to code in innovation class, or brainstorming creative ways to support a local charity, Kindergarten provides a safe space for boys to explore, reflect, and progress in meaningful ways.

First, Second, and Third at Fessenden
Two kindergarten boys talk during class

First, Second, and Third Grade at Fessenden

In Grades 1-3 at Fessenden, boys discover that learning is not a race, but a process where showing how you get to an answer is more important than how quickly you get there. A reminder that “Mistakes grow our brains!” is displayed with pride on Lower School walls to reinforce that it’s ok when we stumble and encourage boys to take healthy risks in learning. 

Detailed and personalized reading comprehension and skill assessments at the beginning of the year, paired with deliberate time to learn about each boy’s individual interests and learning style, provides our team a roadmap for the months ahead. Friendship and internal discovery are constant—boys reflect, write, and read about what they learn, and they collaborate with new friends on projects. As they grow and learn to work alongside others, we encourage boys to make positive choices as they navigate relationships with friends and faculty.

Teachers continue to focus on literacy and math, enriching special classes, and group project work, taking a multi-sensory approach to provide every boy with the necessary skills and confidence to successfully navigate Fourth Grade.


The Fourth Grade Experience

In addition to the core academic subjects, Fourth Grade boys explore topics around identity, belonging, leadership, and executive functioning skills.


Research has shown that, at ages 9 and 10, boys begin to think about the world outside themselves and their role within it. Having a deep understanding of their personal identity, within a diverse community, fosters a strong sense of belonging and helps boys learn to interact meaningfully and positively with others. 


As the oldest boys in the Lower School, fourth graders are naturally looked to as leaders. They assume higher levels of responsibility. They lead community service projects, are featured speakers at Lower School assemblies, and are role models for the younger boys. 

Executive Functioning Skills

As boys approach Middle School, their responsibilities increase. To help them manage this transition, the Fourth Grade curriculum emphasizes organization, time management, and managing conflicts—all skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. 
Fourth Grade Highlights at Fessenden

Fourth Grade Highlights at Fessenden

The fourth grade year creates many opportunities to build and celebrate community, grow in confidence and leadership abilities, and connect within and beyond the classroom through this capstone year in the Lower School.

To kick off the fourth grade year, boys and teachers at our New England private school participate in Camp Fest, a day and a half long event which builds bonds through teamwork based events and a lot of fun! This event sets the tone for the year, and the boys leave campfest feeling like they know their classmates, and themselves better. They feel like they belong. 

Ready to take on new leadership roles as the oldest students in the division, the fourth grade boys regularly participate in vocal and band performances, allowing them to grow in confidence and musical knowledge every time they hop on stage and stretch their comfort level. In the dining hall, our fourth grade boys serve as role models for our younger students as table waiters and cleaners during our communal lunch time. Allowing the boys intentional opportunities to be leaders gives the fourth graders the chance to take pride in themselves and their community.

As the Fourth Grade experience draws to a close, the boys enjoy an end of the year trip that mirrors the Camp Fest experience to celebrate their fourth grade community before moving on to the Middle School. Finally, the Lower School Moving Up Ceremony is a culmination of the Lower School experience. In addition to the presentation of commendations and awards, each boy is invited to share a formative memory from their Lower School days with the entire school and their families, and share their thanks and gratitude with the broader Lower School community at Fessenden.