Subjects

Catechesis & Religion

The Neumann Classical School uses four approaches for religious instruction: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), traditional catechesis, liturgy, and the Bible. We offer CGS for our younger students (preK-3). CGS is a Montessori-style approach to immersing children in the Catholic faith. It offers tactile and visual experiences to children to enhance their liturgical and interior prayers.

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In grades K-8 we use the Ignatius Press Faith and Life series, an approved diocesan catechetical text series. Following common practice, the Faith and Life series prepares children for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in grade 2. It also prepares older children for the Sacrament of Confirmation in grade 8. The Neumann Classical School will help to arrange for students to receive the sacraments together at a local parish.

Every year, children in all grades will experience a liturgically oriented curriculum that discusses Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and the time after Pentecost (also known as Ordinary Time). All children will learn to pray and sing in Latin, the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic faith. Students will memorize key prayers (Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Gloria), the parts of the Mass (through chanting the Missa de Angelis), Marian antiphons (e.g., Salve Regina), and traditional Catholic hymns (e.g., Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris Hostia).

The Neumann Classical School also takes a biblical approach to the Catholic Faith. Students of all grades are expected to commit scriptural passages to memory. In particular, we will learn Psalms and biblical excerpts chosen for their aesthetic and spiritual importance (e.g., Genesis 1, Psalm 23, John 1, Matthew 22:37-40, Luke 1:46-55). Such passages are cultural touchstones in Western prose and poetry, but also wellsprings for a deep prayer life.

We teach children to view the Bible in both its roles: as a great work of Western culture, and as the living Word of God. Younger children are taught the major Old Testament stories that constitute the basis of salvation history (The New Catholic Picture Bible, Lawrence Lovasik). In grades 3-5, children will read Old and New Testament accounts on their own (Golden Press Bible). Middle school students will read and study from the Bible itself (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition). Older students will also read simple exegetical commentary (Navarre Bible) to provide the Catholic interpretations of the Bible.

As a school community, we pray and celebrate together. The school day opens and closes with prayer. At midday, we recite the Angelus. All students of the Neumann Classical School are expected to attend school masses, which are once a week and on special feast days. We encourage popular traditions surrounding the feast days of All Saints, St. Nicholas, St. Valentine, pre-Lenten Mardi Gras festivities, among many others! 

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Arithmetic & Mathematics

Rote memorization and conceptual understanding are the keys to fluency in arithmetic. The Neumann Classical School places a great emphasis on arithmetic as the entry point to higher mathematics and the sciences. All students are placed on a single track to ensure completion of Algebra I in grade 8. This accelerated pace will facilitate a future path to taking Calculus in high school. In middle school, we supplement the regular math curriculum with lessons in probability, the basis of Statistics. Math puzzles based on algebra and probability are fun for children and stimulate abstract thinking. 

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In the early grades, we use texts that emphasize mental math techniques and conceptual mathematical understanding. Arithmetic facts are also practiced to ensure mastery. Rote memorization of addition and subtraction facts (up to 20) and of the multiplication table (up to 12s) is essential to fast and accurate calculation of larger and more complicated quantities.  In later grades we supplement the base math curriculum with problems that delve deeper into certain concepts. In middle school we will use prealgebra and algebra texts that are more challenging than traditional middle school courses.  

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Reading & Literature

Reading proficiently is the basis of success in other subjects. The Neumann Classical School has children reading at one grade ahead of their traditional grade level. In grades K-2, students study phonics and develop their sight word vocabulary to become fluent readers. The younger students practice using readers and standalone books from our instructional collection. We use readers that reinforce phonics lessons and sight word vocabulary lists. We read books that stretch the children’s abilities and delight them. Teachers also read aloud from a rich collection to foster the habit of reading and lifelong love of the written word.

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Students in all grades read challenging and interesting literature to sharpen their minds and enlighten them to the human condition. In grades 3-5 children read great works of literature like Aesop’s Fables (Winter), Charlotte’s Web (White), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Lewis), Little House in the Big Woods (Wilder), The Hobbit (Tolkien), A Christmas Carol (Dickens) and others.  In grades 6-8, children read classic literature that is also germane to the epoch covered in History and Art History.

Students of all grades commit verse and poetry to memory. Memorizing poems helps students experience and partake of a common cultural inheritance. In grades K-1 the verses are simple but delightful: “At the Sea-side” (Stevenson), “Now We are Six” (Milne), “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” (Rossetti), “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (Frost), among others. In grades 2-8 children continue to memorize poetry of increasing complexity and literary merit. Children experience meter and rhyme through poems such as “Jabberwocky” (Carroll), “The Tyger” (Blake), “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Tennyson), “Annabel Lee” (Poe), “God’s Grandeur” (Hopkins), and others. We emphasize elocution. In addition to memorization, teachers also read aloud poems by great poets to help develop the child’s ear for the beauty and cadence of the English language. 

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Language Arts

After phonics and reading, the arts of language include penmanship, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and writing.  

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In grades K-1, children form print letters and practice writing. In grades 2-6 we focus upon cursive. Children strive for legible and elegant handwriting.

In grades K-2, spelling is a natural extension of phonics. We assign spelling lists that build around basic phonetic patterns (e.g., short vowels, long vowels, consonant digraphs, diphthongs, etc.). In grades 3-8, spelling words are based upon more complicated spelling patterns and exceptions to the rule and upon vocabulary derived from common Latin and Greek roots.

Grammar lessons begin early: in grades 1-2, we teach children to identify the parts of speech. A solid foundation in grammar is also the cornerstone of learning Latin (beginning in grade 3). The Neumann Classical School uses the award winning Voyages in English Grammar and Writing series in grades 1-8. Children also learn to diagram sentences. We furnish students with the grammatical practice necessary to construct proper sentences and to compose clear, organized writing. Students also practice copying a piece of text and writing from dictation.  A firm command of the mechanics of language alongside constant exposure to classic literature will prepare students to write persuasively and eloquently. 

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Foreign Languages

In grades K-2, children are introduced to the French language with a fluent French-speaking instructor. The French program incorporates aspects of French culture through music and literature.

In all grades, children learn Latin through prayers, hymns, and common phrases. We supplement choir instruction by using Lingua Angelica (Memoria Press) to study Latin hymns and by translating the parts of the Mass. Students will have a strong grounding in the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic faith.

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More formal Latin instruction begins in grade 3 with the Memoria Press Latin series. Middle school students use Ecce Romani series. Students are invited to take the National Latin Exam at three levels: Latin I (grade 6), Latin II (grade 7), and Latin III (grade 8). 

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History and Geography

The Neumann Classical School takes the long view of history. Children begin with the cradle civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, work through the Greco-Roman world, continue into the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and end with the Modern era. We also study American history. Students follow this progression over multiple years. All history classes have a strong geography component.

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In Kindergarten, children learn about the major epochs of the world. They also study American figures and events as pertinent to the civic calendar (e.g., Thanksgiving, Washington’s birthday, Fourth of July).

In Lower School (grades 1-4), we use the award-winning series The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child (Peace Hill Press). We present the facts of history with a narrative approach. Each year students explore a major historical period (grade 1: Cradle Civilizations, grade 2: Greek & Roman, grade 3: Medieval, grade 4: Renaissance & early Modern). In grade 5 students study the New World with Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America (Catholic Textbook Project). Children will also learn about local and New York State history.

In Middle School, we will use All Ye Lands  (Catholic Textbook Project) and The Story of Civilization (TAN Books) to cover the Ancient civilizations (grade 6) and the Age of Christendom (Middle Ages through to the early Modern world) (grade 7). In grade 8 we focus upon American history with Joy Hakim’s acclaimed series, A History of the US.

In all grades, the Neumann Classical School students learn the Classically Catholic Memory timeline, a list of 144 important world and Church events. Yearly memorization of these events will provide a bird’s eye view of history and help students to anchor the historical period covered in their current grade. 

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Art and Art History

We supplement our study of history by exposing the children to key works of art and architecture relevant to the epoch covered in their current grade.  Children will study samples of the major artistic movements (e.g., Ancient, Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Modern). Each also month features a particular major artist and the class studies his life and exemplars of his works (e.g., Michaelangelo, Holbein). 

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Students practice drawing in Art and Nature Study classes. Observation, description, and imitation of both art and nature are key components of their learning. In classical drawing classes, students receive formal instruction in proper proportions, shading, and perspective. The children also take part in arts and crafts in their various subjects.

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Science

In grades K-5, students engage in nature study, the study of God’s creation through the senses. Children experience wild and curated nature through regular field trips. They bring specimens back into the classroom for further study. Students keep nature journals to develop their observational and recording skills. A library of children’s science books supplements the teacher-guided exploration of the natural world.

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Lower School students also undertake a systematic study of the major scientific disciplines. Every year children have units in geology, chemistry, biology, and physics in grades 1-5. In Middle School, students study one discipline per year to prepare them for high school science (grade 6: biology, grade 7: chemistry, grade 8: physics). Science is hands-on with scientific demonstrations and experiments. While a quantitative approach is sometimes taken, we mainly encourage the students to enjoy themselves and indulge their curiosity about the natural world. 

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Music

Beginning in Kindergarten, children receive music instruction according to the Ward Method developed by Justine Ward in the 1920s. Children learn to hear music intelligently and to sight read. Children learn musical notation, pitch matching, and good vocal technique. By singing sacred music, including Gregorian chant, we expose students to the beauty of the Catholic Church’s liturgy.  

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In addition to singing in our Ward music program, the children learn about important Western classical composers (e.g., Bach and Mozart). We read biographical books and listen to their musical works. The children discuss the music and begin to form their appreciation for Church (monophonic and polyphonic chant) and classical music. Older students are asked to learn and identify compositions and their authors. 

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