Lower & Middle Divisions Curriculum Guide

School Mission

Stevenson School has long been committed to three aims:

  • to prepare students for success in school and life beyond school;
  • to foster their passion for learning and achievement;
  • to help them shape a joyful life.

How We Believe Students Learn Best

At Stevenson, method and content are intertwined: how we teach is as important as what we teach. Over the past twelve years we have come to structure our approach to how around a distinctive blend of pedagogical principles we consider “the best of the best” in terms of their authentic impact as students learn and grow and their relationship to our School’s core values of safety, trust, respect, belonging, and inclusion.

  • Inspired by Loris Malaguzzi, the originator of the Reggio Emilia method, we provide our youngest students with recurring opportunities to practice self-directed and experiential learning in a highly relational environment that consistently emphasizes respect for self and others, personal and community responsibility, and discovery through both exploration and play.

  • In helping our students acclimate to the rhythms of school life, we are influenced by the Montessori method, which holds that all children are eager for independence, naturally curious about the world, and ultimately capable of healthy self-sufficiency as learners and community members.

  • As our students develop more advanced academic and social skills, our program is guided by the writings of John Dewey, the 20th century American philosopher and educational reformer who believed that students’ full investment in learning–and in learning how to learn–depends on their engagement in truly meaningful activities in and out of the classroom.

  • Guided by the Harkness method, our middle division teachers facilitate age-appropriate discussions that foreground evidence, inquiry, interpretation, listening, and collaborative problem-solving.

Teachers’ Training







Our STEM program is based on The Next Generation Science Standards, well-established national guidelines for K-12 science content that set clear expectations for what students should know and be able to do in the areas of physical science, robotics, coding, life science, earth and space science, and engineering. Hands-on, inquiry-based lessons require students to work collaboratively, brainstorm, design procedures for testing their predictions, carry out investigations, and ask peers thoughtful questions about other conclusions. Students develop a deep understanding of content and develop key skills that will serve them throughout their educational journeys.

Visual Art, Dance, and Music

In both the lower and middle divisions, all students receive regular instruction in:

Students learn how to make art and how to think about art, becoming conversant with artistic concepts and developing art literacy through exposure to a variety of media, artists, and genres.

The music curriculum is designed to foster joy, curiosity, and an appreciation for music’s role in society and their daily lives. In order to develop a foundational understanding of melody, rhythm, harmony, form, and expression, students sing and  play Orff instruments. As they grow, so do opportunities to practice with new and more sophisticated instruments. Seasonal performances provide opportunities to experience the rewarding thrill of making music in front of a live audience.

As a kinesthetic mode of learning, dance helps students develop gross motor skills, coordination, musicality, and creativity. Students are introduced to a wide variety of dance forms including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary. Age-appropriate challenges are presented in a nurturing and supportive environment. 

Following their broad exposure to the arts between Grades PK-6, students in Grades 7 and 8 may choose from among jazz dance, ballet, sculpture, band, string ensemble, or painting. 

Physical Education

The physical education program takes full account of students’ physical and cognitive development and is based upon State of California standards.

For students in the lower division, these standards emphasize the way they move through space and time in their environment, the way they move through space and time with a partner, continuity and change in their movement, the manipulation of objects in time and through space, and the manipulation of objects with accuracy and speed.

For students in the middle division, these standards emphasize working cooperatively to achieve a common goal, meeting challenges, making decisions, and working as a team to solve problems. Across both divisions, students learn good sportsmanship and resilience while becoming stronger, faster, and more physically confident. Sport-specific curricula for older students align with the middle division’s athletics seasons.

Please feel free to direct your specific questions regarding the program of study to Susan Rymzo, director of admissions for the lower and middle divisions.