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Private All Girls School | Girls K-8 | Co-Ed Preschool | Malvern, PA

Behind the Scenes: A Look into First Grade

The First-grade instructional program at Villa Maria Academy Lower School is committed to helping each child meet the academic and intellectual competencies expected at this grade level and become an active, engaged learner in a classroom setting. The first-grade program builds on skills and knowledge children have learned in Kindergarten and at home. It encourages critical thinking, creativity, and respect for self and others.

The first-grade year is a magical one! Your child will blossom into a confident reader, writer, and mathematician. Parents will be amazed at the growth that is made in this year. The first-grade year is also one of transition to the more formal learning environment. Children will still have many opportunities to work and play in hands-on activities, but will also be involved in independent tasks as well.

First grade is an exciting time for new literacy skills. Children have a better sense of how words and language work and can sound out more complex words. They are becoming better spellers, too. In first grade, ELA instruction is sprinkled throughout the day.  Just a few of the activities include journal writing, writer’s workshop, guided reading instruction, hands on centers for phonics and word study and reading, reading, reading!  Both classrooms have extensive classroom libraries with leveled books for the students.  This allows for a “taylor-made” approach to teaching reading.  Both teachers agree that the small group reading instruction is one of their favorite parts of the day!  The smaller class size supports this type of instruction and allows each girl to become a fluent reader.

In math, they will quickly learn to add and subtract numbers, and learn to solve word problems. But first graders still need plenty of encouragement!

A typical day in first grade consists of:

Morning prayer/morning meeting
ELA Whole Group
Small group instruction/ centers
Science/ Social Studies

Students participate in special classes called Added Value Classes throughout the week as well. These classes include art, library, music, dance, gym, and Spanish. Students at Villa also take a STEM class once a week in our STEM lab. Both first grade classes also combine in their classrooms for a monthly STEM activity with their classroom teachers.

Each grade has special activities and events that they celebrate throughout the school year. In first grade, they celebrate relationships with a Big Sister, Little Sister Program between the eighth and first grades. The first and eighth grades form a special bond through the Big Sister Little Sister relationship. Each eighth grader is paired with a first grader to mentor and lead through the year. The girls take a joint field trip in the fall, celebrate Christmas together, and have a picnic in the spring.

Other special activities in first grade are the Saints Program and the Grandparents Tea.

If you want to learn more about first grade at Villa Maria Academy Lower School or chat with one of our teachers, please contact our Admissions Office at (610) 644-4864 or at

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