Led by experienced teachers, the Lower School's curriculum cultivates a remarkable place for children to learn and grow. We embrace a philosophy that inspires the growth of each learner at their own individually remarkable pace while providing rich opportunities to expand their curiosity, thinking, and social-emotional growth.

Students visit specialists in physical education, art, music, science, and Spanish, where flexible and outdoor classroom spaces inspire cross-discplinary explorations.

Collaborative lessons, celebrations, and activities between grade levels begin with our youngest students and this diverse classroom environment inspires further opportunities for deeper learning and further strengthens our tight-knit community.

Our 7:1 classroom ratio and co-teaching model allows our teachers to craft each child's educational journey and support each child every step of the way.

Language Arts

List of 6 items.

  • Junior Kindergarten

    Our youngest students are encouraged to notice and reflect upon sounds, rhythms, rhymes, syllables and other similarities of language. They engage with books and develop a sense of storytelling from pictures. They also grow their writing skills through explicit fine motor and letter formation instruction. Using writing folders, they practice estimated spelling and illustration. This experience encourages each child to take risks, build self-confidence, and become an adept storytelller. Intentionally integrated into academic experiences are social-emotional learning opportunities based on Responsive Classroom principles that help students navigate their first year within our school community. With a focus on cooperation, kindness, and conflict resolution, our students begin their journeys with the tools to develop into collaborative and socially-conscious learners.
  • Kindergarten

    The kindergarten experience is built around exploratory hands-on learning opportunities that nurture an ever-growing love for books and reading, foster a developing awareness of oral and written communication, and help children gain confidence in their own abilities. Interwoven throughout academic skill mastery is a dedication to social-emotional learning and development based on Responsive Classroom principles. Teachers cultivate a rich variety of experiences including shared reading, literacy exercises, songs, poetry, roleplaying, phonetic games where children are encouraged to explore language, extending and reinforcing their skills. Students write and draw in daily journals, chronicling their experiences and growth, while estimated spelling helps children become confident, articluate writers.

    Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are inseparable parts of language development. Each child is encouraged to develop in these areas according to his or her own readiness to maximize the highest individual potential of each learner.

    Our kindergarteners use language as a tool for problem-solving, creative expression, gaining, and sharing information.
  • 1st Grade

  • 2nd Grade

    At this level, we base language development on a child’s widening experiences. The second grade reading and writing curriculum adapts to individual needs, including advanced ones. 

    Using literature-based, phonetic, and sight-word approaches, teachers help students develop specific reading skills. During individual reading conferences and small group work, children discuss the content of their reading and strategies for identifying unfamiliar words, understanding passages, reading with expression, and evaluating content. 

    Our second graders use writing as a powerful means of communicating their feelings and ideas. Children write in a variety of creative forms, maintaining writing folders to promote organization of ideas and technical skills like spelling, handwriting, grammar, and punctuation. Formal expository writing also begins in this grade. Students learn the process of pre-writing, proofreading, editing, revision, and final draft. Compositions include literary analysis and personal essays.
  • 3rd Grade

    Our students become critical and thoughtful readers as they begin to more deeply experience literature. Using reading strategies of visualization, prediction, and connection, students are adept and confident readers. In Writer’s Workshop, they craft a personal narrative, informational text, and a persuasive essay. Students also apply principles of cursive handwriting.
  • 4th Grade

    The fourth grade language arts curriculum is a reading and writing workshop model that provides explicit and direct instruction in the skills and strategies of proficient reading and writing instruction. During Reading Workshop, students experience literature across a variety of genres with fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. In Writing Workshop, students learn the craft their writing through mentor authors. Students learn how to choose a topic and develop their work through the authorial process. Students write within each of the following genres: narratives, essays, and informational writings.


List of 1 items.

  • Kindergarten-6th Grade

    Hillbrook uses the Singapore Math method of teaching for grades K–6. Singapore Math is a highly respected program that has become increasingly visible in the United States. The program has its roots in the country of Singapore, which has routinely scored at the top of international math tests. 

    Key elements of Singapore Math include:
    • A streamlined approach suited for a school year
    • Emphasis on less breadth and greater depth
    • A clear focus on mastery
    • An absence of clutter and distraction
    • Emphasis on conceptual understanding
    • Movement from concrete thinking to deep conceptual understanding
    Singapore Math provides our students with an exceptionally strong foundation, one that ensures our students are exceedingly well-prepared for advanced mathematics.


List of 4 items.

  • Junior Kindergarten

    Life science and physical science are woven together in interdisciplinary units that complement student learning in homeroom. Students explore the campus and observe the seasons change firsthand, stimulating a lifelong interest and curiosity in the world around them. The unit also introduces different parenting and nesting strategies, and compares the characteristics and behaviors of various tree-home animals. Students craft models and art pieces based on forest creatures and the class role-plays tree-home dramas about raccoons, a mother bear and her cubs, and a family of owls. Early math concepts surrounding sorting, classifying, and measurement are emphasized at this time, as well as the physical science concept of warmth. 
  • Kindergarten

    Students continue their exploration of the campus by focusing on the creek as they study the properties of water and learn about riparian habitats. In the spring, students collect and study various aquatic plants and animals including freshwater snails, dragonfly nymphs, fish, and tadpoles. Students learn animal and plant life cycles as they watch the tadpoles eat plants, and the dragonfly nymph eating the tadpoles. As the tadpoles mature and the dragon fly nymph molts into a dragon fly, students observe the process of metamorphosis firsthand. Kindergarten students also cultivate their own garden, learning about soil types and what plants need in order to grow. They chart plant growth in science journals while learning about various garden insects. Students create projects including a terrarium and perform a role play od ladybug behavior to more deeply understand insect habitats and behaviors. 
  • 1st Grade

    Students continue their study of insects, learn insect anatomy, and explore the roles of these social creatures as they recreate their habitats through an egg carton art project. Students fill the egg cartons with pretend honey, pollen and honeybee eggs and larva as they role-play honeybee behavior. Next, students begin a chemistry unit with a GEMS publication, Involving Dissolving, where students investigate the mixing of liquids and solids. Using familiar substances, students create homemade "Gel-o," colorful disks, and crystals that emerge on black paper to make a "starry night." Students enter a Secret Formulas unit where they investigate properties of substances as they make personal brands of paste, toothpaste, cola, and ice cream. These activities have been carefully designed to convey key science, mathematics skills and concepts, anddynamic real-life experiences with chemistry. Students are instilled with an understanding of cause and effect, which is central to understanding of controlled experimentation. 
  • 2nd Grade

    In homeroom, students focus on African culture where they learn the different environments and geological processes that occur in and around the continent beginning with plate tectonics. Students learn the different layers of the earth, explore seismic waves traveling through the layers of the earth, and are introduced to continental drift. Through a geological history of Madagascar, they begin an intensive study on the unique flora and fauna of the island. Students hone their mastery of scientific classification, taking notes on the similarities and differences between different mammals. The students then focus on the horn of Africa and study the volcanoes of that region. Students build on their knowledge of plate tectonics in their deeper understanding of volcano formation and activity. Finally, our learners dive into the Congo for a unit on coastal mangroves and manatees, after which they learn about the outer ocean while focusing on squid and other cephalopods. These marine science units culminate with a squid dissection.
An independent Junior Kindergarten -8th grade school in Los Gatos since 1935

300 Marchmont Drive
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 356-6116 | info@hillbrook.org