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Students conducting crater impact experiment at The Willows, a school in Los Angeles

3rd-5th Curriculum

Students dropping self made rovers of the second level at The Willows, a school in LA

Happy energy, exploration, risk-taking, and a growth mindset fuel the fire of learning in our Upper Elementary classrooms. Our third through fifth grade students are challenged to build their foundational skills as they connect their learning to real-world experiences. Guided to realize the impact of their individual voice, they become well-prepared, independent, eager to learn, and prepared for their transition to middle school.

OUR WILLOWS 3rd-5th grade students are capable, adventurous, and thoughtful. They grow through these three developmental and transitional years in a nurturing environment that encourages taking risks and conquering new challenges. Our Upper Elementary students are developing leaders and critical thinkers, ready to take on challenges with confidence. We believe, and research supports, that both academic achievement and social emotional intelligence are essential during these formative years. So, each year of our integrated program is designed to promote both the academic and social-emotional growth of our students along with encouragement to problem solve and think critically and creatively.

Our DK-8 setting provides a distinct advantage that allows our 3rd to 5th grade students to interact regularly with older role models and serve as mentors to our younger students. They learn to lead, take ownership of their learning, spread their wings, take risks, and thrive in a safe, nurturing atmosphere.

We strongly believe that communication between parents and faculty supports student growth, especially during pre-adolescence. We keep parents aware of Middle School events so they are well-informed about their child’s school experience and increasingly comfortable in their evolving relationship with their child. We appreciate the support of our parents and look forward to developing strong relationships with them.

Curriculum Guide

Philosophy & Goals

Grades three through five are important transitional years in the lives of our students. Pre-adolescence is marked by a yearning for greater independence, and yet students at this stage still need guidance in making wise choices and understanding the needs of people both within their community and beyond.

The goals of the Willows Upper Elementary program are:

  • to challenge students and support their growth through a rigorous and relevant academic program that is responsive to individual differences
  • to promote an increased sense of independence by encouraging a risk-taking and growth mindset across the curriculum
  • to develop a greater sense of personal responsibility and awareness about their needs within the context of the needs of the community


Cross-curricular connections and flexibility are key components of a Willows’ education. Intersession is a one-week, 
inter-disciplinary, multi-age exploration of a single topic. Intersession provides an opportunity to explore a new thematic idea throughout the Lower School. The theme is applied to the central academic subjects. This year’s intersession topic is our school-wide theme, Dream, which will provide a rich basis for studies.

School-Wide Theme

Each school year since 2000-2001, our faculty and students come together across grade levels to explore a school-wide theme. Launched each fall, the annual theme is incorporated into curriculum through classroom projects, the arts, and athletics. Impact is the 2022-2023 school-wide theme.
Learn more