Fifth grade is a pivotal year in the life of a student. Fifth grade students are the oldest Lower School students, and as such, serve as role models for the younger students. Their academic program is designed to support their growing independence and to facilitate a smooth transition to the Upper School.
Reading in the fifth grade focuses on the development of in-depth comprehension strategies for understanding fiction texts and strategies for obtaining information from non-fiction texts. Group discussions focus on character motivation, plot development, and the role that setting plays in a novel. Developing the inferential ability to read between the lines is stressed.
By fifth grade, many students are operating at a more abstract level, although they continue to have concrete tools available to them to model problems. They can relate previously learned concepts to new situations with increasing proficiency. Computation skills in the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) are strengthened and applied. Mental math, pre-algebraic thinking, and estimation are also developed. There is an extensive study of fractions and decimals. Metric measurement, area, volume, ratio, proportion, and percent are all units of study in the fifth grade mathematics program. The students have the opportunity to develop their algebraic thinking through the introduction of integers and the performing of the four operations dealing with integers.
In the fifth grade biblical study, students look at the first books of the Old Testament through II Kings. These studies include the life of Moses, Joshua, Ruth, the Judges, Samuel, and David. There is scripture memorization with daily sword drills to familiarize the students with the locations of the scripture.
In Social Studies, students focus on the history of the United States government and how it works. Students learn about the factors that led to the founding of the colonies, the sources of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution, and the key individuals and events in the American Revolution. Students develop an understanding of how the United States came to exist as a democracy. During the last quarter of school, students begin their search and discovery of the countries in the eastern hemisphere. Each student is required to choose a nation and to complete a notebook containing information he/she has learned about that nation. Reports are written containing information such as the economic state of the country, the educational values, the languages spoken, the traditions, holidays, and natural resources, along with the history of the chosen country.
Fifth grade students study geological forces that shape the earth. There is an extensive study of the planets, including the characteristics and exploration of the planets, as well as the effects of the planetary system. A study of the body systems and nutrition takes place during health class, which coincides with the unit of life science.
Technology for fifth grade students begins the year with a six-week keyboarding refresher course. Students continue to develop their research skills.
In addition to technology, fifth grade students experience Spanish instruction, music, physical education, art history, and library. Students participate in a chapel program once a week with visiting youth leaders from the area as speakers, along with various fine arts performances.