Founded in 1944, The Primary Day School in Bethesda, Maryland, is a school for boys and girls from Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade. We are the only school in the area that focuses exclusively on children in this unique age group, and we do so for a very important reason. These are the most crucial learning years in children’s lives, a time when they are bursting with potential, ready for quantum leaps of development. At Primary Day, everything we do focuses on helping young children flourish—as learners and as people—during this vitally important time of life. The Primary Day School was founded as a demonstration school for the Phonovisual Method, a unique, phonics-based approach to teaching reading and language arts that remains vital to each student’s educational journey today.
Primary Day’s rich and varied curriculum is designed to cultivate a love of learning in every child. Our small classes and 6:1 student-faculty ratio mean that teachers can devote the time and attention to help all children learn at a pace that’s right for them, and develop their promise to the fullest. Teaching reading tops our list of priorities for each child. The foundation of our reading program is the Phonovisual Method, a successful phonics-based system that uses sounds and symbols as the language building blocks to unlock children’s capacities to become skilled and confident readers. Teachers use a variety of reading strategies in Reading Workshop to foster skill and confidence. Instruction in writing evolves from basic skills into personal and creative expression through journals and stories and culminates in the second grade autobiography project. We use Math in Focus (Singapore Math) along with games, puzzles, robotics, SMART boards, iPads, tangrams, and LEGOs to demystify mathematics, make it less abstract, more tangible and fun, and to lay a foundation for ongoing math success. The Pre-K EcoWonder Science program taps children’s natural curiosity experientially. Units focus on gardening, recycling, composting, and ecosystems. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is the integrated, hands-on and collaborative approach to teaching science in Kindergarten through Grade 2. The science lab is home to the engineering center where students work with units from the Boston Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary curriculum. The SMART board and iPad program is an integrated part of what happens in each classroom beginning in Pre-K. World Language instruction (Chinese, Spanish, and French) begins in the first year at Primary Day with an emphasis on receptive language, or listening skills, so that children become confident and comfortable being immersed in the target language. Physical education, recess, and a wide-variety of games and activities help young bodies develop. Art progresses from simple shape-on-shape designs in Pre-K to sophisticated projects in which children learn the techniques and works of master artists. The music program’s emphasis on creative expression and joy of performance is highlighted during Friday morning assemblies and special programs throughout the year as children perform as a class before our entire school community. Character education at Primary Day begins with the idea that we should treat others the way we ourselves would like to be treated. Children learn to act with care and concern for others. They learn respect for their classmates and their teachers and to take responsibility for what they do. It’s not so much what we say at Primary Day that builds character, but what we do, and who we are.