Lower School

The Lower School of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools serves a diverse student body of approximately three hundred fifty students in third through fifth grades. At each grade level students are organized in five homeroom sections of twenty-three students. The faculty is comprised of fifteen full-time homeroom teachers, and approximately 45 special area teachers, many who teach across divisions.

Most Lower School students begin school at Lab as three-year olds in our Nursery and Kindergarten program.We build on the well-established culture for learning fostered in those classrooms.Strategies such as tiered assignments, flexible grouping and integrated curricula are among the ways teachers make adjustments for differences in skill levels, learning styles, interests and autonomy.Woven throughout the fabric of the school is a multicultural approach to teaching and learning that“celebrates our cultural differences and our common humanity”.

Teachers meet as grade level teams to establish curricular goals and objectives (outlined in the Program of Studies), to select materials, to plan special projects and field trips.Special area teachers meet with members of departments that extend across the schools, providing a broad perspective of student learning.Collaboration among teachers is balanced with the autonomy needed to ensure that a teacher’s own strengths and creativity are maximized while providing flexibility to respond to the emergent needs and interests of students.

In third, fourth, and fifth grade, homeroom teachers continue to teach the core subjects of language arts, math and social studies. The school day is extended by an hour and the number of special area classes expands to include art, music, physical education, library, computer, science and world languages.

A Learning Coordinator provides guidance and oversight in planning for students who have special learning needs. Counselors, specialists, and social workers are part of the team that creates a holistic approach (cognitive, social and emotional) to the educational care of students.

A great deal of careful thought and planning goes into creating classroom environments that foster and sustain the intellectual curiosity children bring to learning. Teachers encourage students’ imagination and initiative while guiding them in productive ways throughout their grade school years.