Lower School

Lower School Students with their Teacher

A World of Ideas

Third-graders are building sailboats in science, models to race along an indoor water course. Kindergartners are picking vegetables from the organic garden. First-graders are having a French lesson. And in a fourth grade, students are learning about a noted author they will meet through a visiting artists program called Imagine the Possibilities.

Wherever you turn, a world of ideas is coming alive. This is a wonderful place to begin a career in learning, a supportive and stimulating setting where curiosity is continually rewarded. Young students learn to love school and experience the respect and responsibility inherent to our community. For us the essential ingredients are:

  • Devotion to academic and character development with careful assessments of progress.
  • Small classes and superb teachers with time to focus on each child's growth.
  • A solid core curriculum enriched by physical education, languages, music, theater and visual arts.
  • Regular communication between teachers and parents.


LS News

Excursions & Adventures

Life in lower school is filled with experiences children will never forget.

Sandy Wang To Become Head of Lower School at PDS

Sandy Wang will join the PDS Leadership Team this summer as Head of Lower School. In accepting her position as Lower School Head, Dr. Wang stated, "I am thrilled to be joining the PDS community and looking forward to participating in the magic that happens as young children discover their place in the world around them. From my visits to the School earlier this winter, I know that PDS is a special place, filled with joyful children, talented educators and families who care. I look forward to being a part of the PDS story and am proud to be a Panther!" Prior to her appointment at PDS, Dr. Wang built an impressive career in school leadership through her educational focus and her work as a teacher and administrator at some outstanding independent schools in New York City. For more details, see the full story.

[...] about Sandy Wang To Become Head of Lower School at PDS
The Value of Tinkering

Tinkering, Aaron Schomburg says, is a stepping stone for the more complex innovations and problem-solving kids will face in STEAM maker spaces, innovation labs, fab labs, or science and engineering courses in higher grades and in college. "Tinkering is not just a physical activity; it is also a way to develop thoughts and ideas that lead to the next step, whether that is a more detailed drawing or prototype, or even pure scientific research," he writes in his February 20 blog, "The Value of Tinkering" published in Scientific American. Read his blog here.

[...] about The Value of Tinkering
Kindness Day Is Every Day at Lower School

For the month of November, ushering in the season of giving, gratitude is the theme actively being practiced across the Lower School. Pointing out the wealth of scientific research on the physical and psychological benefits of practicing gratitude, Ms. Klein emphasized that "Gratitude jars, gratitude journals and gratitude circles are just some of the ways we help our students take time to reflect on what they are thankful for and reap the many benefits of this practice . . . even thinking about the small things for which we are grateful each day can increase one's happiness, empathy, compassion, achievement and one's physical well-being.

[...] about Kindness Day Is Every Day at Lower School

Each week, in kindergarten and first grade, children gather to learn and to play, with an intensity and delight that would inspire older masters.

[...] about Chess
Pond Study

What lives in the bottom of the pond? How can we find out? Science is about hands-on investigation. In the Pond Study, PDS fourth grades explore a data-rich ecosystem right on our campus.

[...] about Pond Study


Lower schoolers study communities, starting with their families and branching out around the world. They become active members of a community of learners.

Community Service

Whether they are collecting books for a school in Africa or engaged in sustainability work closer to home, our students learn that being a part of a community means helping others. Along with lessons in composting and recycling, they also learn about judgment, cooperation, and compromise—for instance, as they sell calendars to raise money for a charity and then decide together the best way to donate the money.

TAP Program

TAP studentThrough the Teacher Assistant Program, PDS upper schoolers visit lower school classrooms to work one-on-one with the children. For the older students, it’s a chance to learn something about the art of teaching from masters of the profession. For their young counterparts, the attention of these upper school role models is a source of enormous pride and excitement. Nowhere is this more clear than when an upper schooler calls out a greeting to a lower school friend who is walking with classmates to gym or to lunch.

Blue and White Day

Blue and White Day
Named for our school colors, Blue and White Day is a time for outdoor fun and Panther pride involving the entire student body. Highlights include an inner tube tug-of-war, a prekindergarten-twelfth grade relay race, and other games. Each student is designated as a member of the blue team or the white team when he or she first arrives at PDS, and remains blue or white for life.

Holiday Concert

This annual highlight brings together many seasonal traditions—from Christmas and Kwanzaa to Chanukah and Dawali—creating a wonderful learning opportunity and celebration. Like so many Lower School events, the concert is a chance for children to stand in the spotlight, gaining the poise and experiencing the pleasure that come from performing well.