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Lower School Lays Foundation for Lifelong Health and Wellness

by Karen Shore  |   Back to Table of Contents

“Girls on the Run taught me to be more confident and how to be comfortable with being myself. It helps girls look deeper inside themselves to find courage and strength.”    

— fifth-grader Alexianne Playe

How can something as important as health and wellness be taught to our youngest Ravens? The Lower School’s integrated approach — combining a fun and age-appropriate physical fitness curriculum and nutrition education with extracurricular opportunities, citizen leadership development and a foundation for social and emotional wellness — gives students the tools, knowledge and experience to make good choices for lifelong success.

boys on bikes

Lower Schoolers Liam King and Austin Short have fun during the after-school program “Learn to Ride a Bike on Two Wheels.”

Girls on the Run builds self-confidence and life skills through fun, engaging lessons, building toward a 
5K that Coach Michelle Schulze says “validates goal-setting and gives them a sense of accomplishment.”



Guidance in making good choices: Third-graders learn about nutrition in the classroom and via the interactive website As they master information on how to make healthy selections, they’re able to take advantage of “free-choice lunches” in the Dining Hall — giving them more independence in deciding how to fuel their bodies.

Boy Running

Then-Lower School student Will Eichler ’25 runs laps to warm up for P.E. class.

children in line giving high fives

Building community across grades, younger students get the chance to high-five departing fifth-graders at the final Tree Talk of the school year.

Physical Fitness

Building Blocks in P.E.
The Physical Education Department’s curriculum for PreK through third grade develops and refines fundamental movements, basic manipulative skills, creative exploration and an awareness and appreciation for fitness and wellness. Fourth- and fifth-grade students participate in more sport-specific activities, incorporating skills into complex movements in a structured game setting.

Unstructured Play
Lower School students enjoy recess, which Head of Lower School Nicole Girvan calls an “integral part of a child’s development,” every day and may visit the playground more often on days when they don’t have P.E. “It is a time to get physical exercise, be creative, learn and foster social development, giggle and laugh, and really just decompress,” Girvan said.

Extended Fun and Fitness
Before- and after-school programs such as “Jump Start” morning activities, Girls on the Run, Little LAXers, bicycle-riding instruction, yoga and others provide our youngest Ravens with even more opportunities to stay active the fun way.

Social and Emotional Wellness


Lead From Here
Classroom teachers use “launch lessons” to introduce the competencies of the citizen leadership curriculum in age-appropriate ways. Competencies are reinforced throughout the school day, including during P.E. classes. David Myers, chair of the P.E. Department, noted that activities such as the Keypunch Challenge on the basketball court reinforce “problem solving, cooperation, conflict resolution and memory.”

Tree Talks
Quarterly gatherings called Tree Talks provide opportunities to strengthen the Lower School community through music, conversations and the exploration of LFH competencies such as self-awareness, resilience, empathy and resourcefulness.

Mental health support
The Lower School counselor, a licensed mental health clinician, supports healthy child development through direct work with students, faculty and staff consultation, and parent education. The counselor also maintains strong relationships with community partners for family referrals when needed.


May 2019 Tree Talk

Watch interim Lower School counselor Chris Harper and other staff help students think about tackling new challenges during the May 2019 Tree Talk.

From Our Staff

SAIS Magazine, Spring 2019 

Jen Baccus, assistant director of admissions

An Investment for a Lifetime: The Value of Independent Education for the Youngest Learners

Jen Baccus on campus