Founded in the early '70s, Greenhill’s renowned primer program offers the gift of time. The primer year falls after kindergarten and before first grade, serving as a bridge from Preschool to Lower School. The focus is on the whole child, intentionally designed to foster the full spectrum of social-emotional learning, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. This year allows a child to mature at his/her natural pace. This is a tried and true process that Greenhill has practiced for decades with proven success. In fact, Greenhill’s model has been followed by many peer schools in the area.

The Candidate

All kindergarten students with a birthday between March 1 and August 31 are initially considered for primer. This six-month range serves as a baseline to start assessments. Each child is observed from an individual perspective and particularly from a social/emotional development viewpoint. Not every child in this birthday range is necessarily recommended for primer, and the decision is not based on academic ability or achievement. See The Process for more detail.

The Curriculum

After kindergarten, the primer class moves on to a customized curriculum with the flexibility to take time and adapt for students’ needs and interests. Our co-teaching model of two lead teachers (each with over 20 years of teaching experience) offers students close attention. The two teachers work with students to determine the curriculum based on their needs and interests, dividing the class in half for literacy, writers' workshop, math, and science. Skills may be taught within a longer trajectory with specific Lower School-level academic challenges, and with additional in-depth and enriching applications. Themes of the year have included science and outer space, ecology and the environment, the human body, sound and music. These themes may be integrated through explorations that range from a science fair to a theatre production. Students are always encouraged to follow their interests and explore their own curiosities, fostering “school-wise” habits and a strong love of learning.
Primer Co-Teacher
Primer Co-Teacher

The Process

January – February
Primer candidates are observed throughout the school day in their home classroom, co-curricular classes, and physical education. In an effort to provide an unbiased perspective, the observers are experienced teachers across all disciplines with no previous knowledge of a child's birthday.
January – February
Parent/teacher conferences are held to discuss the child’s development. Parents are welcome to offer their views at this time.
The placement committee meets to review and discuss the observations and parents' input. The ten-person committee consists of Preschool and Lower School teachers and administrators. Each child is discussed individually, and all discussions are confidential.
Parents are informed of the committee’s decision, and contracts for either primer or first grade are offered.
Welcome to Primer! Parents are invited to an evening event to learn more about primer, meet fellow families, and start scheduling summer playdates.

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Greenhill School

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