Grades K-3 Academic Overview

Early Childhood students on a laptop


The Early Childhood Campus academic program is designed to provide joyful, developmentally appropriate, and rigorous instruction to stimulate our students’ intellectual curiosity and build their academic, social, and emotional competencies.  The program develops the strong foundation of skills and knowledge required for continued academic success at the Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School/Collegiate Institute Campuses, college and beyond.

Our curricula are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and emphasize critical thinking, collaborative learning, and skill development.  Students master key understandings and skills in literacy and math, as well as develop important content knowledge in Science and Social Studies.  Literacy and language learning are integrated throughout the day, as students learn more about themselves, their community, and the world.

In addition, each student has classes in Computer Science, Art, Music, and Physical Education each week. Students learn in whole class, small group, and individual settings.  Social and emotional learning is integrated throughout the day, and students are supported to develop key skills and competencies in this area as well.  The curricula and our approaches are intentionally joyful, active and student-centered, providing learning that is both rigorous and developmentally appropriate.  Teachers partner with families to meet every child’s learning needs and to ensure that they reach the grade level targets or beyond.


In Kindergarten through Grade 2, the Early Childhood Campus uses the FOCUS on Early Learning Curricula developed by the Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Department. These grade level curricula are the foundation for our literacy, science and social studies programs, providing a truly integrated learning experience for our young scholars. The curricula have been developed over multiple years, and were deeply informed by the research showing that high-quality, developmentally appropriate early learning produces the best results for all children. Focus on Early Learning is designed to engage children and empower them to develop language, critical thinking, and socioemotional skills that prepare them for long-term academic and life success. (For more information, click here.) 

At each grade level K-2, the FOCUS curricula consist of four units which unfold over the course of the year. These integrated units support the development of language and literacy skills and competencies in the context of rich learning about science and social studies. They are aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework standards, and provide a strong foundation in early literacy.

Beginning in Grade 3 and continuing across the Upper Elementary Campus, Prospect Hill Academy utilizes the EL ELA literacy curricula. The Grade 3 EL ELA curriculum aligns to the Massachusetts Literacy Standards, and provides our students with a strong foundation in reading and writing, as well as supporting critical thinking, vocabulary and content knowledge development. Similar to Focus on Early Learning, EL ELA integrates learning about science and social studies across the year and within the four units covered.

EL ELA is also research-informed, built on the science of reading and the science of learning and development. It is validated by rigorous third party research showing excellent equitable outcomes for students from diverse backgrounds.  It incorporates social and emotional learning, and encourages compassionate leadership and thoughtful citizenship by helping students connect their learning to their communities, where schoolwork has real impact on issues they care about.  Students engage in original research and deep interdisciplinary investigations, developing habits of inquiry, analysis, critical thinking, and craftsmanship.

The EL ELA curricula also consists of four units which unfold over the course of the year. These integrated units combine a module lesson and an additional language and literacy block designed to support the development of language and literacy skills and competencies in the context of rich learning about science and social studies.

For more information specific to the literacy curricula at each grade level, click the grade level links on this page.


In the K-6 math program at PHA, we are guided by the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum. This is a problem-based curriculum in which students spend most of their time in class working on carefully crafted and sequenced problems. Teachers help students understand the problems, ask questions to push their thinking, and orchestrate discussions to be sure that the mathematical takeaways are clear. Learners gain a rich and lasting understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures and experience applying this knowledge to new situations. Students frequently collaborate with their classmates—they talk about math, listen to each other’s ideas, justify their thinking, and critique the reasoning of others. They gain experience communicating their ideas both verbally and in writing, developing skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

This kind of instruction may look different from what you experienced in your own math education. Current research says that students need to be able to think flexibly in order to use mathematical skills in their lives (and also on the types of tests they will encounter throughout their schooling). Flexible thinking relies on understanding concepts and making connections between them. Over time, students gain the skills and the confidence to independently solve problems that they've never seen before.

For more information specific to the math curricula at each grade level, click the grade level link on this page.


In art, students explore different materials, techniques, and styles in order to express themselves in a creative way and deepen their knowledge across subjects and world cultures.

Computer Science

Students learn to use computer technology independently as they develop fundamental skills at the Early Childhood Campus. Most computer skills students practice will be transferred from one application to another as they go through the grades at PHA.


In music, students are introduced to rhythm, melody, tone, songwriting, notation, and melody through singing, experimenting with instruments, and exploring different genres of music throughout history.

Physical Education

During physical education classes, students engage in movement, exercise, and activities that provide the opportunity to explore themselves and at the same time interact with others. Students also get a chance to recognize individual differences and establish group relationships through play.