Grounded in the Core Knowledge philosophy of education as developed by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Park Street School and Park Street Kid’s curriculum is designed to develop children's knowledge and skills in all developmental areas and establish a foundation for lifelong learning. The curriculum and instruction is age-appropriate, integrated, hands-on and responsive to individual differences in ability and interests. Students gather a rich body of knowledge each year, revisiting topics in subsequent years. Such a content-rich and spiraling approach to education trains our children to thoughtfully reason and apply sound judgment to problems they face, both academic and social. It also develops students who are culturally literate and able to express themselves in a broad range of contexts.

In the early years, the development of each student's social/emotional skills is a major emphasis of our curriculum. Activities, lessons, play, and a nurturing environment stimulate the students to increase their verbal, sharing, and listening skills. Through integrated, thematic, hands-on, literature-rich lessons, basic readiness skills are developed in reading, writing, math, health, science, and social studies. Letter and number recognition, letter sounds, shapes, sorting, counting, and distinguishing colors are highlighted. Fine motor skills are strengthened through cutting, coloring, tracing, and writing. Spanish begins at age three and continues through the elementary school.

In the elementary years, the tradition of integrated, hands-on learning in a nurturing context continues while our academic program focuses on core subjects and enriches them with the arts. Hallmarks are a commitment to early phonics training, immersion in classical literature, and a comprehensive study of history beginning with ancient civilizations in first grade. As students master the basic elements of math and science, they apply their knowledge through the use of manipulatives and experimentation. Also included in our curriculum is the exploration and utilization of technology and engineering.

Where art and music are often considered areas of enhancement in other philosophies of education, at Park Street School, the disciplines of art and music, Spanish, science and physical education are integral parts of our core curriculum. Various topics of study are integrated as much as possible across all of these disciplines.

Great care is taken to provide a stimulating learning environment that develops each child’s cognitive abilities and self-esteem. Because children learn by experiencing, observing, and interacting, our teachers creatively employ a variety of teaching techniques, learning resources, and discovery opportunities for their students in diverse, educational settings. Our teachers devote their attention to developing activities that illustrate and expand on topics. With their curiosity piqued, our students are eager to learn more. They become engaged in their education.

Core Knowledge – A Spiraling Sequence

How does a spiraling, content-rich curriculum work? Take, for example, a rich study of China and Chinese culture. In kindergarten, our students are introduced to Chinese culture. We paint the Great Wall of China on brown paper and hang it on the classroom walls. As we learn facts about China, we add them to our “Wall.” We learn to count in Chinese from 1 to 10 and create Chinese lanterns to hang from our ceilings.

In second grade, by drawing maps, we explore the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, and discuss the teachings of Confucius. As we celebrate the Chinese New Year, we learn of the significance of the dragon in Chinese culture and design our own. We research facts about the Great Wall of China and display them in our own paper wall representations. In year four, we study the dynasties and conquerors of China, and visit the Yin Yu Tang House, a 200-year-old home from China, now reconstructed at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. Finally, we explore the vitality of Boston’s trade with China, both past and present.

Or, take our study of shapes — patterns we learn in math and art. In kindergarten, we are introduced to the idea that shapes are both two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D). We look at different lines in 2-D and 3-D works, by artists such as Matisse and Hokusai. In first grade, we identify spheres, cones, cylinders and pyramids. We create 2-D and 3-D media and observe geometric shapes in nature.

In third grade, we revisit the idea of space in pieces of art. We look at paintings by Jean Millet and Pieter Brueghel, examining the relationship between 2-D and 3-D work. In math, we identify 3-D shapes and the 2-D shapes embedded within them. By sixth grade, we’ve learned about radius and diameter, and are analyzing shapes of graphs on grids while seeing these mathematical concepts come alive in the works of Raphael and Michelangelo.


Core Knowledge

Enrichment Programs