General Studies

Language Arts and Social Studies

The goal of our humanities curriculum is for all of our students to have an awareness of the world and their place in it, and for them to become lifelong learners who are passionate readers, sophisticated writers, and eloquent communicators.

Through the study of literature, history, cultures, geography, and ideas, our students gain an understanding of themselves and their own communities, as well as an appreciation for the richness and diversity of humanity. Children are encouraged to make connections between their experiences and the curriculum, and to practice the curiosity, skills and knowledge needed to meaningfully engage in our changing world. 

Topics are valued for their content and for the ways in which students can practice and develop higher-level skills throughout their time at JCDSRI, such as interpretation, analysis, and synthesis. Encouraging inquiry and critical thinking, our faculty guides students as they begin to recognize that history is viewed through multiple perspectives and that different people have varying beliefs and world-views.

Teachers model reading strategies using informational texts, historical documents, poetry, and fiction, through Guided Reading and read-alouds. Students build fluency and meaning as they hone their skills. Our students write across the curriculum using various techniques and types of writing, such as personal narratives, compare and contrast pieces, creative stories, poetry, persuasive writing, and multi-paragraph essays. Throughout the grades, students learn about the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, editing, and revising. Students are afforded many opportunities to share their work with their classmates and the larger community.


We believe that mathematical learning is an opportunity for students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills using multiple strategies. By emphasizing real-world applications of mathematical ideas, our students are able to connect and apply the math skills learned at JCDSRI to the world they live in and to understand the importance of math in their lives. In addition to providing meaningful motivation to our students, our teachers are able to integrate their interests, as well as satisfy their various learning styles, by using different teaching modalities.

We use the Math in Focus curriculum, based on the Singapore math approach. Problem-solving serves as the foundation of mathematical learning in this program and uses a variety of models to help students visualize and understand mathematical concepts. Our educators teach math concepts using a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression to anchor student knowledge in real-world, hands-on experiences supported by technology applications. Math in Focus encourages positive student interaction with mathematics, which results in them developing an ability to easily solve complex, real-world math problems.

Our math curriculum gives children in all grade levels an opportunity to deepen their understanding of essential math skills such as number concepts, geometric principles, financial literacy, patterning, measurement, and data analysis. At the same time, we work toward proficiency in number sense and computation skills.


Our curriculum offers students opportunities to hone their curiosity and to learn scientific concepts, skills, and strategies. Each child develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills through active student inquiry and by applying the scientific method. Students learn to critically observe with all their senses, to consider what they know, and to question the world around them in logical ways. They also practice posing hypotheses, doing experiments, generating explanations, and drawing conclusions, thus furthering both their personal understandings as well as those of the scientific world. 

Teachers emphasize collaborative problem-solving, active investigation, and an understanding of current scientific issues.  This includes an emphasis on environmental stewardship, associated with the Jewish concepts of shomrei adamah (“guardians of the earth”) and tikkun olam (our obligation to work toward “repairing the world”). Beginning in preschool, students engage in this powerful learning, extending their understanding through field trips and guest speakers. The curriculum culminates when our fifth graders participate in a four-day retreat that combines Jewish learning with experiential environmental activities. 

Our hands-on science program begins in our youngest grades, introducing students to the fundamental ideas of life science, Earth science, physical science and environmental science. Science units by grade:

  • Kindergarten: Animals; Trees; Weather
  • First grade: Air and Weather; Pebbles, Sand and Silt
  • Second grade: Balance and Motion; Plants and Insects
  • Third grade: Magnetism and Electricity; Rocks and Landforms
  • Fourth grade: Mixtures and Solutions; Environments
  • Fifth grade: Living systems; Energy