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Curriculum and Thematic Approach

In the elementary school grades, children bring a passion for learning to school. The Advent School’s challenging academic program, a motivated peer group, and the thoughtful support of our teachers inspires students to push their thinking further.

At Advent students are immersed in a strong, integrated curriculum. We teach them to expect connections within their learning and to freely cross the boundaries between disciplines. Within the context of a year-long theme, children learn from direct experience as they actively integrate scientific, cultural, and literary studies. They discuss, write about, and represent these topic areas using a variety of different mediums. Each student at Advent is an active participant in the learning process, making choices and accepting responsibility for his or her learning.

Students learn to research topics starting in their early elementary years. With two teachers per classroom along with specialist teachers, students have the support they need to fully understand a concept and apply skills.

Thematic Approach

The Advent School is committed to thematic teaching. Based upon the premise that children deepen their understanding when they make connections between one learning experience and the next, our curriculum grows out of themes that directly connect to the School’s Mission. The theme serves as a vehicle that synthesizes and consolidates children’s learning in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, and the Arts.

Class Themes

Early Childhood Center

Awareness, Compassion, and Collaboration: Learning to be Stewards of our Planet

Children’s interests inspire in-depth investigations and long-term studies. Early Childhood students take the time to develop their ideas and theories, representing their thinking through two and three-dimensional art, writings, and other forms of documentation.  


Discovering how Communities Grow: Living Inclusive and Sustainable Lives

Kindergarteners’ curiosity about the natural and human world provides a context for students’ extended explorations. Starting with a study of butterflies, they learn about lifecycles, the development of families and community, and recognize the ways in which they can build deep and meaningful connections nearby and in the larger world.

First Grade

Interdependence: Understanding Vital Relationships among Living Things on Earth

The Amazon River Basin is the context for learning about biodiversity and the interdependence of all life forms. Children discover the importance of understanding, protecting, and restoring the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems while learning about the culture and people who inhabit the Amazon.

Second Grade

Cultivating Local and Global Perspectives: Solving Discernible Problems Using Available Resources

Second Graders investigate the Charles River Watershed as a starting point for their study of rivers, water, and the ways in which living things depend upon water to survive and thrive. The richness of the Charles River study can extend itself; hands-on field trips will help students understand the diversity of landscapes along the river – they will see how human inventions such as bridges, locks, and mills use the river to solve problems. Students will learn to think creatively, discover how natural resources can be sustainably utilized, and will work to understand the complexity of local and global problems.

Third Grade

Concepts of Independence and Freedom: Studies of Historic America and its Leaders

Third Graders learn the value of independence and positive leadership within historical and present day contexts. Beginning with a study of freedom and an in-depth focus on the American Revolution, they develop an appreciation for oral tradition, learn to take diverse perspectives, and research leaders who stand up for that which they believe.

Fourth Grade

Learning from Early Civilizations: The Challenge of Sustainability in Past and Present Worlds

Fourth Graders recognize the common elements that define a civilization and identify criteria that make civilizations sustainable over time. Studying aspects of Greece, Egypt, and Tibet, they learn how societies develop and how citizens have the power to envision and implement change.

Fifth Grade

Promoting Human Dignity, Economic Justice, and Peaceful Solutions in our World

The Industrial Revolution, child labor in today’s world, and immigration to the United States form the context for a study of people and their work. Fifth Graders’ yearlong investigation into engineering dovetails with their ongoing dialogue about human rights.

Sixth Grade

Envisioning Empowerment: Human Rights, Social Justice, and Sustainability in our Global World

Life in the Middle Ages is the launch pad for studies that include civil rights movements in the United States and South Africa and the promise of environmental sustainability. Sixth Graders recognize the dichotomy between a fixed society in medieval times and value our present day commitment to civil liberties and equality. The final months in Sixth Grade are devoted to designing sustainable buildings. The class spends three days at the Farm School (Athol, MA) and culminates the year at the Chewonki Foundation in Maine – two outdoor classroom experiences that deepen children’s understanding of the importance of preserving the natural world.

“The curriculum at Advent is remarkable. We’re constantly amazed by what our kids are absorbing and how excited they are to be learning.”

— Advent parent