School of Grammar Academics
Prima through Fourth Level Grammar (4G) are the years in which young students master and internalize the skills of language and mathematics as well as absorb a broad expanse of facts in history, geography, science, and the arts. In these years, students are expected to master foundational concepts and skills.
In initial literacy instruction, students master the phonograms of the English language and use them to capture their own oral language production in the written system. The Parnassus reading program is completely research based, field-tested, and consistent with the latest research on phonological awareness, automaticity, metacognition, phonics, oral reading, and direct instruction. In 4G, the students transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Our 4G reading curriculum is based on reading and analyzing classic literature. Students at all levels are exposed to a variety of genres such as nursery rhymes, classic literature, Aesop’s fables, Greek myths, poetry, and non-fiction biographies.
In mathematics, our scholars progress incrementally which gives them time to understand and practice a small concept before adding new information. Knowledge builds on knowledge and we seek to impart mastery of mathematical concepts to all students by distributing the skills across the year. Our math program is also cumulative, ensuring that practice and assessments cover ideas from previous lessons to ensure scholars retain and master the material taught. In the School of Rhetoric, our students have the opportunity to take advanced and college credit math courses.
History and Geography
In history, the chronological development of world civilizations is linked with a study of geographic regions, as well as the introductory concepts of civics and economics. Our Prima students study the United States and world history and geography. Beginning in 1G (1st Grade), scholars progress through the historical periods from the ancients in 1G, medieval in 2G, renaissance in 3G, and modern in 4G. This method provides a narrative and sequence of interconnected events from the ancient times to today, helping the students to better-understand the progress of history.
In science, students learn about the natural world as well as the stages of scientific inquiry. We advocate for scientific learning and inquiry along with the Association for the Advancement of Science as stated in their 1993 report asserting that “…students should be actively engaged in learning to view the world scientifically. That means encouraging them to ask questions about nature and to seek answers, collect things, count and measure things, make qualitative observations, organize collections and observations, discuss findings, etc.” At Parnassus, topics in science are presented systematically and clearly, ensuring our students can make steady progress in their scientific learning.
Latin and Spanish
Students study Spanish and Latin daily, beginning in Prima. The goal is to accumulate knowledge that will be used later in the comprehension and analysis of more complex concepts. Emphasis is placed on learning vocabulary, verbs, verb tenses, and grammar. Parnassus leverages the teaching of Latin (and Spanish) to impart in students a solid understanding of English grammar. Beyond the benefits of increasing English vocabulary, studying Latin grammar is the best and easiest way to learn English grammar. There are many reasons for this, but one is that by the time students begin to learn English grammar, they have already been speaking and writing it without much analysis of the language structure. The unfamiliarity of Latin, a very structured and inflected language, forces the young scholars to evaluate every word and think carefully at every step about constructing sentences. Additional information about the benefits of studying Latin can be found on “Why Study Latin and Greek“?
Similarly to the other disciplines taught at Parnassus, our Physical Education program is unique. It encompass physical activities and taekwondo, building not only physical strength, agility, and flexibility, but also character development, collaboration, team work, and leadership skills.
Art and Music
At Parnassus, students have art and music education weekly including art history and the history of music. Art and music do not occur in a vacuum. Art and music at Parnassus are integrated with the study of history. Conversely, the study of these art forms is foundational in the study of history. The arts are a reflection of the cultural, political, and philosophical circumstances of the time. Scholars at Parnassus learn to appreciate and critique the arts as well as work on their own art productions and musical performances.