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

Early January: Initial Data Gathering
Families share information on child’s development via electronic form. Teachers remind the family of the process, that their child is eligible, and preliminary behaviors they are seeing. 
January: Observations and Assessments
Primer candidates are observed and assessed (using research-based summative assessments and observational data) throughout the school day in all spaces such as their home classroom, co-curricular classes, and physical education. The observers are experienced teachers and administrators across all disciplines.
Mid-January: Conferences
Parent/teacher conferences are held to discuss the child’s development in the classroom for students who are in the Primer process.
Early February: Placement Committee
The placement committee meets to review and discuss the information provided by the parents/guardians, the homeroom teacher, and additional observers.
Mid-February: Decisions and Contracts
Parents/guardians learn about the committee’s decision, and re-enrollment contracts for either Primer or first grade are offered.
Mid-May: Welcome to Primer!
Parents/guardians are invited to an evening event to learn more about Primer from the Head of Lower School, meet fellow families, and start scheduling summer playdates.

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Greenhill School

A coed, nonsectarian, independent day school for prekindergarten – Grade 12
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