Program FAQs, 3’s–2nd Grade



What kind of students do well at Calhoun?

Calhoun serves a broad range of students representing a variety of temperaments, skill levels and passions, whose parents understand and value Calhoun's progressive philosophy.  We meet a variety of learning styles by offering multi-modal methods of instruction and individualized expectations for each child.  However, while we comply with the American Disabilities Act, we are not a school that is able to accommodate all learning disabilities.  Children requiring speech or physical therapy schedule their sessions outside of school hours.  Our program is not designed to support children requiring a SEIT or shadow teacher in the classroom.  Calhoun does not use the Orton-Gillingham or Wilson Reading System programs for reading instruction.

What are the areas of development and the classroom routines?

How do teachers accommodate a diversity of learning styles and developmental levels?

Calhoun's small class sizes enable teachers to know and spend individual time with each child.  Activities and projects are generally open ended, allowing for a range of responses depending on a child's interests and abilities.  Teachers may tailor an activity to meet the needs of a particular child or engage a student through his passions.

How are children placed into classroom or cluster groups?

Within each age level/grade, students are divided into classroom or "cluster" groups of 10-14 with a head and associate or shared associate teacher for each group.  When forming the groups, teachers strive for gender balance and a social dynamic that will foster the best learning environment.  Children are regrouped each year, which helps to ease the transition of new students into Calhoun.  For returning students, consideration is given for keeping each child together with at least one good friend for social comfort.

What is the reason behind the open space model?

Some of the 3's-first grade classrooms are comprised of two classroom groups or ‘clusters’ of children. Each cluster group is headed by two teachers, one head and one associate teacher.  During choice time, a child has a sense of ownership of the entire classroom, knows the four adults in the room and can interact with all of the children.  The purpose of this model is to increase the potential for social interactions.  Socialization is a most important developmental goal for young children.  A child also has the use of a large space, a premium in New York City buildings.

Are children able to focus in the open space model?

Children who are part of a busy, social environment learn to block out noise that doesn’t pertain to their point of focus.  Meeting and work time are coordinated between the cluster groups allowing for a quieter environment when appropriate.  Children are focused on their teacher and meeting time despite adults visiting the space or another meeting taking place in the room.  Learning to focus in a space that is not completely quiet prepares children for an adult working environment which may have background noise.

If a child gravitates repeatedly to a particular activity during choice time, does the teacher try to encourage the child to try other activities?

Upon arrival to school, children often transition into the classroom choice time by choosing an activity that is familiar and comfortable. Most children gravitate to other activities over time, and teachers entice each preschool child to engage in the daily art activity. Teachers may allow children to stay with an activity when the play is construed as constructive and providing growth. In other cases, teachers may gently challenge children to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. Peers may also lead a child into a new classroom experience.  Choice time encourages independence and fosters learning to make good choices.  Classsroom materials are changed throughout the year to foster different skills.

When do children play musical instruments?

Percussion instruments are used to teach rhythm and timing and are part of the 3's-2nd grade World Music program, which also includes singing songs from aroung the world and music listening.  Recorders and xylophones are used in 2nd through 4th grades with an introduction to music notation.  Fifth grade students may choose choral or instrumental music with brass, woodwind and stringed instruments available fo those choosing instrumental music.

What are the homework expectations?

Reading each night for 15-20 minutes takes place 2nd–5th grades in one or a mix of three forms:

  1. Independent reading
  2. An adult reading to the child
  3. A student reading to an adult

In third grade, one homework task per six-day cycle is assigned, and in fourth grade, there are two homework assignments per six-day cycle.  Fifth graders have homework most days, and Calhoun's study skills class supports development of their organizational and learning skills.

What are the school hours and is there an after school program?

Half-Day 3's - 8:45 am to 12 noon
Full-Day 3's - 8:45 am to 2:30 pm
4's - 8:45 am to 2:30 pm
Kindergarten & 1st grade - 8:30 am to 2:45 pm
2nd grade - 8:30 am to 3 pm

Daily 8 am drop-off care is available for all 3's-2nd grade students and is free of charge.

Care until 6 pm is available through Calhoun's After School Program (ASP) at an additional cost. Young 3's who demonstrate the stamina to function comfortably throughout the full day may also stay for ASP.

How are children picked up at the end of the day?

Students are collected from their classrooms.  At the beginning of the day, parents/guardians/caregivers tell Coordinator of Student Affairs Michelle Raum how their child is to be picked up at the end of the day.  The information goes on a clipboard, which is taken to the classroom before dismissal.  If an individual not listed on the clipboard comes for pickup, the teacher calls a parent to confirm the dismissal plan. 

What is the six-day cycle?

Calhoun plans a schedule over six days rather than a week to maximize the use of shared space and frequency of specialist activities. In addition, this rotation prevents students from missing the same classes repeatedly due to holidays and special events.

What are transportation options?

Students who use public transportation to get to and from school may request Student Metrocards, which are offered by the Office of Pupil Transportation.  The MetroCards provide three rides per day on school days.  They do not operate on public school holidays and vacations.

Kindergarten-sixth grade students who live in Manhattan may be eligible for the free yellow bus service offered by the Board of Educations' Office of Pupil Transportation.  The following criteria must be met: 
   1.  The student's residence must be in the same borough as the school.
   2.  The bus route must have at least eleven students.
   3.  The bus must travel on a route that travels no more than five miles from its first stop, through all of the stops on the route, to the school.

Are holidays celebrated?

Holidays, cultural and religious, are celebrated in the guise of culture, and parents willing to share a family tradition are welcomed into the classroom.  This gives young children an opportunity to begin to appreciate family diversity through a concrete experience and to have an individual's cultural heritage recognized and celebrated.

How is the transition to 433 West End Avenue, home of 3rd-12th grades, handled?

Calhoun’s Lower School Curriculum Coordinator and Student Support Teacher spends individual time with second graders to assess each child’s learning style in preparation for the transition to 433 West End Avenue.  Second graders visit 'Big Calhoun' and on one trip, join current third grade students for two of their classes.

Is the student body diverse?

Calhoun's Lower School (3's-5th grade) includes 35% children of color; however, the full spectrum of ethnic diversity is not fully reflected by that number.  Calhoun is committed to seeking a diverse student body in order that many voices will be represented in the classroom thereby providing a broad understanding of the world. Read more about Calhoun's Diversity Initiatives.

What are characteristics of the faculty?

  • Calhoun teachers must enjoy being with and supporting the work of young children.
  • The 3’s-2nd grade faculty reflects gender and racial diversity.
  • The longevity of our faculty ensures experienced teaching and reflects the joyful, positive working relationships and environment at Calhoun.  

What are the opportunities for parent-teacher communication?

  • Parents and their children begin the year with a classroom teacher conference in which parents learn about the classroom routines and have their questions answered. 
  • Daily drop off and pick up in the classroom affords parents regular, brief opportunities to share relevant information.
  • Voice mail and email are additional communication venues.
  • Teachers provide parents with a summary of their child’s development at November and May conferences.
  • Parents of 3's and 4's students receive a narrative report outlining social, cognitive, and fine and gross motor development at the end of January and in June.  Kindergarten-fifth grade reports indicate development using tables listing specific skills in each domain in addition to narrative.
  • Conferences may be arranged on an as needed basis.

How can a parent be involved in the life of the school?

  • Accompany class field trips when needed
  • Share a cultural or family tradition with your child’s 3's-2nd grade classroom
  • Be a cluster parent and help to communicate school activities and information to fellow parents
  • Attend Parents Association meetings and become involved in PA activities
  • Volunteer for a fund raising activity sponsored by the Development Office

Are lunch and snacks provided?

Calhoun provides daily mid morning snacks of fresh fruit, a grain and water.  For preschoolers, lunch is brought from home, refrigerated until lunchtime and eaten at classroom tables.  Parents of kindergarten-2nd graders have the option of subscribing to food from Red Rabbit, whose mission is to provide nutritious, made-from-scratch meals.  Teachers initiate classroom cooking projects to prepare snacks such as guacamole, pancakes, mini pizzas, Stone Soup, apple crisp, or perhaps cake for a birthday celebration.  Parents may come into the classroom and share a cooking project in conjunction with a holiday or snack time. 

Is Calhoun a nut-free school?

Calhoun educates parents about the school’s policy of no nuts.  While we do our best to keep products with nut traces in them out of the school, we cannot make that guarantee.  Students with severe allergies may carry an EpiPen with them as they travel from space to space within the school.  Additional allergies are communicated to the classroom teacher for safe handling.

Does Calhoun have a school nurse?

Calhoun's nurse is housed at 433 West End Avenue but supports teachers and administrators at 160 West 74th Street, home of 3's-2nd grade.  A number of the 74th faculty is certified in CPR and first aid training.  Parents are called immediately in the event of a cut or injury that may require further evaluation from a physician.  We may administer medication with written instructions from the student's physician, along with signed permission from a parent.  The school is required by law to know if students are currently using prescription medication, inhalers or Epi-pens.  Additionally, Calhoun requires that a Food Allergy Action Plan be submitted for students with severe or life-threatening allergies.

Is Calhoun accessible for individuals with physical challenges?

Calhoun has two buildings: The main building at 433 West End Avenue, where 3rd-12th graders are housed, is equipped with a mechanical lift for entry and elevators to the nine floors. The Lower School building at West 74th Street, for 3’s-2nd graders, is not accessible. 
Contact Us

Robin Otton
Director of Lower School Admissions

Casey Nicklis
LS Admissions Manager
fax: 212-721-5247

Main Building 3rd - 12th Grades 433 West End Avenue New York, NY 10024 212.497.6500

Robert L. Beir Lower School Building 2.8 Years - 2nd Grade 160 West 74th Street New York, NY 10023 212.497.6550

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