We admit 36 new Beginners each year.

There are two Beginners classes with 18 students and two gradehead teachers in each class.

About Beginners

List of 8 items.

  • Beginners' Thematic Studies: Topics of Interest to Young Learners

    Our Beginners Program is flexible and encourages independence, yet is structured around well-defined routines and expectations. Our goal is to develop positive social skills by helping each child to be resourceful so that he/she can work or play alone and with other children.

    Learning experiences include dramatic play and creating with paints, clay, blocks, and other materials. The daily program includes the use of tools (scissors, paint brushes, crayons, pencils, shovels, etc.) and outdoor space and equipment. In most activities we place an emphasis on process rather than product. We encourage children to learn by developing questions and investigating their environment. The program helps children increase their understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them.
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  • Language Arts in Beginners

    The Beginners program strives to create a literacy-rich environment, which fosters curiosity and a love of reading and writing. This is done through constant exposure to books and environmental print and opportunities for informal and teacher directed writing. Language activities are designed to lay the groundwork for developing skills in listening, following directions, reading readiness, communicating with others, and creative thinking.
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  • Mathematics in Beginners

    The goal of our mathematics program in Beginners and across grade levels in the Lower School is to help children construct their own mathematical knowledge through meaningful learning experiences in which they solve problems, reason about their mathematical thinking, communicate their mathematical thinking in written and oral forms, make connections to mathematical ideas and real-life experiences, and explore multiple representations. We also encourage children’s interest in mathematics while building their confidence and strengthening their skills. We see mathematics as an integral part of the children’s daily learning experiences at school. There is a strong emphasis on helping children see connections between their work in mathematics and real-life situations.
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  • Science in Beginners

    Science is a regular part of every Beginner’s day. Children are actively encouraged to explore and share their ideas about the natural world around them. Activities are hands-on and project-based. They reinforce student interests, and support and extend ideas being explored in the classroom. 
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  • Library in Beginners

    (One 30-minute class per week)

    Beginners visit the library in half groups. Our Lower School librarian reads (and sings!) a variety of stories on a single theme with a focus on use of language, including rhythm, writing style, and word play. Children then have an opportunity to choose books from the shelves and share them with each other in the library or ask a librarian to read to them.
  • Music in Beginners

    (Two 30-minute classes per week)

    In the Beginners music curriculum students will be exposed to and immersed in a wide variety of musical experiences including singing, dancing, listening, and playing age-appropriate rhythm instruments.

    Students are introduced to the tremendous cultural diversity in music by learning songs in different languages and listening to selections from different cultures. As the year progresses they will become familiar with basic musical concepts and terms such as fast/slow, high/low, high/low, soft/loud, and major/minor.

    As in the other grades, repertoire is prepared for once-per-cycle lower school assemblies as well as holidays and special events including Thanksgiving, Winter Holiday, Black History, May Day and Closing Day.
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  • Movement Education in Beginners

    (Two 30-minute classes per week.)

    Movement Education in Beginners and Kindergarten helps children to develop personally, socially, and cognitively through a variety of movement activities. Students are exposed to skill themes such as locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills, and are introduced to movement concepts that incorporate spatial awareness, levels, and patterns. 
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  • The Larger School Community

    Beginner classes take walks around campus to collect leaves, look for shapes, and make special deliveries. Through partnering and community time Beginners establish relationships with children throughout the school. By the end of the year, a beginner feels very much a part of the whole school.

Beginners Faculty

List of 8 members.

  • Maggie Beasley 

    B Gradehead
    Providence College - B.A.
    Lesley University - M.Ed.
  • Caitlin Jackson 

    B Gradehead
    Connecticut College - B.A.
    Lesley University - M.Ed.
    TTC '14
  • Rico Marino 

    Physical Education Teacher
    Keene State University - Bachelor's
    Keene State University - M.Ed.
  • Pam Maryanski 

    B Gradehead
    Smith College
    Pace University - M.S.
  • Erika Pfammatter 

    Music Teacher
    Vassar College - B.A.
    U. Washington - M.A.
  • Laura Ryan 

    B Gradehead
    Wesleyan University - B.A.
    Lesley University - M.Ed.
  • Victoria Solomon 

    Brandeis University - B.A.
    Simmons College - M.L.S.
  • Michelle Young 

    Physical Education Teacher
    University of Maine - B.S.
    University of New England - M.Ed.
This is more than a school — it's a beginning.
If Shady Hill is the right place for your child, there's no better place to start.
617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138