Westchester Lower School

Grades 1-4 for the 2019-2020 school year

The Westchester Lower School houses 198 students in grades 1–4 and 60 faculty members. It is an environment that balances calm with exuberance, learning with fun–each in their appropriate places and often mixing together. Always, caring prevails in every interaction that the adults have with the children. In addition to the neatly organized classrooms, students enjoy a large gymnasium and a small gymnasium (multi-purpose room), a music shed, two art rooms, a science lab, a library, and extensive outdoor space for play both in front and behind the school building. We enjoy hosting visitors and showing them our building and our program.

To schedule a tour, please fill out the admissions inquiry form.

Westchester Lower School Program

Windward's Westchester Lower School comprises grades 1-4 and provides a supportive atmosphere that enables students to explore new horizons and enhance their self-esteem. Their confidence and pride increase as they develop their core academic skills alongside their essential social and emotional skills as young learners and community members full of the most amazing potential.

The students’ day starts in homeroom where they meet with friends, organize their work before classes begin, and receive individual study help from their teachers. Lower School students have three periods a day devoted to language arts, including oral language, reading, spelling, handwriting, and expository writing. In addition, students have a daily period of mathematics and regularly scheduled periods of social studies, science, physical education, library, computers, art, and music. While class sizes are generally 12-13 students with two teachers instructing the class, both language arts and math classes are conducted with even smaller groups of students, also with the team teaching model. Computer classes for keyboarding and basic word processing skills begin in the fourth grade.

At midday there is a lunch and recess break, giving students time to play with friends or participate in extra-curricular activities. Each afternoon during "Read Aloud," students have the opportunity to listen to and discuss literature on a higher level than their independent reading levels may permit.

Since study and organizational skills are critical parts of Windward's program, students return to their homerooms before dismissal where, under careful supervision, they organize their books and materials and clarify their homework assignments. We follow a policy of using homework to reinforce skills already taught and practiced in class, so assignments are carefully designed to be manageable by students without significant parental support.

Art & Music Program

The Westchester Lower School art department builds the foundation to understanding the basic principles and elements of art and design through different media such as drawing, painting, and mixed media. The primary elements of line, color, shape, space, and form are emphasized, and symmetry, contrast, and pattern are introduced. Lessons are delivered in an explicit, step by step method in which teachers focus on the literal mechanics of using art tools as well as manipulating the art medium.

For example, through direct instruction children learn where to grip a drawing pencil, how to hold and clean a brush for best results, how to hold scissors for more accuracy, etc. In our multisensory approach, students first see a finished version of the project, watch a demonstration of each step, listen to verbal explanations, and then create an original work themselves. We draw inspiration from the materials we use, famous artists, seasons of the years, and cultures from around the world. Each year several projects per grade are created in conjunction with the social studies, science, literature, or math curricula. Especially for our visual learners, this interdisciplinary work further reinforces and clarifies concepts they will see in other subjects. The Lower School community enjoys student artwork on display on bulletin boards and in display cases throughout the school building.

Lower School students receive music instruction one day per week, during which they learn foundational music skills including beat and rhythm. Third and fourth graders study the recorder and have the opportunity to join grade-level choruses for further music enrichment. In the fourth grade, students attend classes in music appreciation, which highlight musical styles, instruments, and composers. The Winter and Spring Concerts, as well as additional events, afford students the opportunity to showcase the musical compositions and skills they have learned. During the month of March, music is infused throughout the school day in celebration of Music in the Schools Month.

Physical Education Program

At Westchester Lower School (WLS), students have physical education class every day. Teachers introduce students in grades 1-4 to basic physical fitness concepts, cooperative group games, dance, locomotor skills, spatial awareness, and sports development activities. Throughout the year, physical education teachers provide activities that instill in students important life skills such as teamwork, game strategies, and good sportsmanship. In class, students work on developing strong basic skills and then use them in age appropriate lead-up and creative games, cooperative play, and scrimmages. Students are encouraged to join the after-school program, where these skills are reinforced through fun games and team play. The structure of WLS’s physical education program provides Windward’s younger students with a smooth transition into the program at both middle schools.

After-School Program

The After-School Program at Windward’s Westchester Lower School serves a dual purpose for the children in grades 1-4. First and foremost, the program provides students with an opportunity to participate in an activity that they enjoy in a relaxed atmosphere once the school day has ended. Secondly, the After-School Program gives students the opportunity to develop and practice essential social and emotional skills.

The After-School program has three sessions: fall, winter and spring. The fall session begins in September, shortly after the opening of school; the winter session commences in December, prior to the holiday recess; and the spring session generally starts in March. The program aims to attract as many students as possible by offering numerous activities as well as season-specific sports that meet their many interests. Activities vary depending on the particular program session. Past programs have included Sports and Games, ceramics, digital storytelling, papier maché, chess club, soccer, “Wacky Baseball,” and “Mad Science.” Instructors are members of Windward’s faculty and professionals from outside organizations that have provided instruction in such offerings as tennis and fencing.

Since Windward’s student body is drawn from towns and counties across three states, the After-School Program gives students the opportunity to participate in activities with school friends whom they might not easily see outside of the academic day. The program’s goal is to bring students together via structured activities that allow them to enjoy themselves and socialize.

Please contact Kristin Galvin, Assistant Director of Athletics and Coordinator of the After School Program, if you have any questions.

Contact Us
phone: (914) 949-6968

fax: (914) 949-8220

Alexis Pochna
Division Head,
Westchester Lower School
Ext. 2241

Amanda Rathbun
Assistant Division Head,
Westchester Lower School
Ext. 2232