Elementary » Elementary Program

Elementary Program

Virginia Chance School is a Progressive Preschool-Elementary in a historic stone schoolhouse on 26 magical acres. Our elementary program offers a challenging, progressive approach that engages students in a hands-on, collaborative, and engaging curriculum and learning environment. This includes rigorous academics, a focus on building self-motivation and independence, a growth mindset, outdoor integration, and appreciation for our environment, responsible decision-making and utilizing critical thinking skills; therefore, preparing your child to excel in school and in life. 
The Chance elementary program – serving kindergartners through fifth graders — is a community of learners. Our integrated approach develops the whole child – encompassing academics and social, emotional, moral, and physical development. We guide children to optimize their potential during this critical developmental stage of childhood. We support and encourage children to become literate, academically-prepared, self-disciplined, and socially responsible individuals who are resilient and healthy in body, mind and spirit; therefore, teaching to the whole child – cognitively, socially, emotionally, morally, and physically. As our Vision, Mission, Philosophy, Best Practice Goals, and Standards/Milestones illustrate, we put the “whole child” focus into practice on a daily basis by creating classroom experiences that reflect these beliefs.

In our elementary classrooms, Chance students are immersed in learning opportunities across all domains while also developing and practicing essential life skills under the guidance of two certified lead teachers in self-contained classrooms. Our teachers are trained in assessment practices that guide instruction and learning experiences and are knowledgeable of grade-level curriculum standards and content requirements that meet the various age groups we serve in K-5th grade. We guide children to optimize their potential during this critical developmental stage of childhood. 

Upon completing our entire program, a child develops the foundation upon which a lifetime of learning will rest.


Daily Schedule

Children are placed according to their ages as of Aug. 1 of the school year. Elementary classes meet from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extended program options are available.
In elementary classrooms, Chance students develop and practice essential life skills under the guidance of two lead teachers. Both teachers are trained to lead, plan curriculum and assess. The classroom meets the needs of children with teaching methods and curriculum components based on a child’s developmental abilities.  

Elementary Classroom Configuration and Size

  • Kindergarten  
  • Multi-Age Classrooms:
    • First/Second Grade
    • Third/Fourth Grade
  • Fifth Grade
Our configuration allows us to provide intentional attention and focus to our kindergarteners as they transition from preschool to our elementary program. Kindergarten and our multi-age Primary 1st and 2nd grades focus on foundational literacy and numeracy skill instruction and practice, while our multi-age intermediate grades of 3rd and 4th are utilizing and applying learned reading, writing, and math skills across the curriculum.  Our multi-age pairings align with children's social and academic needs at this age and foster the learner-leader approach, which is a best-practice approach. Our 5th graders are provided with extended experiences across the curriculum with an emphasis on real-world application and connections with the community, therefore, fortifying each with a daily emphasis on the application of learned skills and practices in preparation for the middle school transition and beyond.
At our school, we have two teachers per classroom to provide the best learning experience to our students. Although the teacher-to-student ratio is low, our classrooms are spacious to accommodate this two-teacher model. Therefore, our classrooms cannot be categorized as having "small class sizes." Our program is designed to challenge your child to develop an array of relationships within the classroom, which is an intentional part of our teaching approach.


A typical elementary day includes:

  • Soft Start
  • Morning Meeting (greeting, share, activity, letter); SEL work
  • Outdoor Time/Snack
  • Literacy Block (reading, writing, word study)
    • Assessment
    • Read-Aloud (comprehension strategies)
    • Small Group, One-On-One Centers
  • Lunch and Rest
  • Math Block (number sense, operations, measurement and data, geometry)
    • Everyday Math-Spiral curriculum
    • Unit Assessment
    • Whole group Instruction (review and Introduce)
    • Independent Practice/Centers
    • Share
  • Inquiry-Based Learning Process and Projects (theme-focused - science or social studies led)
  • Closing Meeting (reflection)/Outdoor Time 
  • Specialists - monthly rotations


Soft Start

A dedicated time to transition into the school day with an open-ended, playful, exploratory time provides relationship-building and child-centered learning.This benefits children by priming their brains for the rest of the school day. Research has taught us how “play” allows children to practice prosocial behaviors, ignite their imagination and creativity, explore the world around them, and engage in reasoning. 


Morning Meeting

A dedicated time that brings the community of learners together and allows teachers to check the “pulse" of individuals as they begin their school day. Morning Meeting offers the following activities before more structured learning begins: 

  1. Students greet one another with eye contact, a smile, by name, handshake, movement, gesture, activity, music, passing an object, etc. around the circle
  2. Students share news or information about themselves, family, topics related to school or classroom studies, etc.
  3. Students participate in an activity building class cohesion, inclusion and cooperation through active participation
  4. Students take turns reading and sharing the morning message that highlights events of the day

Literacy Development

At Chance, students engage in reading, writing, and word study skill instruction, along with listening and speaking experiences, to build these skills and to share their strategic thinking. Large and small group activities, independent practice, and exploration are incorporated into the daily experience. Our reading block includes read-aloud to practice and apply comprehension strategies to extend one’s schema (prior knowledge) and offer exposure to various texts. Small group literature circles build from foundation skill instruction and practice in the early grades to analyzing, comparing and contrasting, studying an author’s writing style, etc., in the older grades. Both decodable and leveled texts are incorporated across grade levels, and we incorporate both explicit instruction and independent practice.

Word study focuses on orthographic mapping, building sight words and high frequency words, vocabulary, development, sentence structure, and functional mechanics such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar to support reading and writing development. Older students use and apply an inquiry approach with word study investigations. Also, exposure to and practice with a variety of writing styles and genres include narrative, informational, opinion, and poetry writing to support student writing skills and ability to meet specific criteria for each piece.

Click here to learn more about literacy in the early years of our elementary program.

Math Development

The math program uses a spiral curriculum that revisits concepts and adds new components. Concepts include numeration and order, patterns, functions and sequences, measurement, currency, time, geometry, and exploration of data and probability. A group lesson is typically followed by guided and independent practice. Students use manipulatives as they move from concrete levels of learning to abstract learning. Enrichment activities and research extensions invite higher-level thinking and real-world applications, helping learners see how math is naturally incorporated into other areas of learning. Real-life math experiences, math-literature connections, and math games support and encourage exploration, investigation, and problem-solving.
Click here or here to learn more about math in our elementary program.

Inquiry-Based Learning 

Students explore real-life subjects in science and social studies by blending the interests and questions of students along with guidance from standards, and accessing all curriculum domains throughout the process. Such practice expands knowledge through questions and research and encourages meaningful, engaging and collaborative project work. Often these projects have an aspect of stewardship that encourages students to learn how to care for their community and environment in an authentic and relevant way. 

Guided Inquiry-Based Inquiry provides a framework to develop and organize investigations, explorations, research and project work (PBL). The steps are process-oriented and include:

  1. Open (Activity, Provocation or Exploration) -  stimulating curiosity; catching students' attention and making initial connections; tapping into schema
  2. Immerse (Experiences and Resources) - building background knowledge; supporting and extending schema;  developing interests 
  3. Explore -  investigating; “dipping in” 
  4. Pause and Identify - identifying and clarifying the inquiry question (essential question); setting direction or focus
  5. Gather - constructing knowledge; devoting time to gather information that will respond to the question; building schema; deep diving; research groups 
  6. Create - choosing how to present new knowledge; gathering materials 
  7. Share - sharing with an authentic audience
  8. Evaluate -  reflecting on process; setting new goals

Closing Circle

This gathering time at the end of the day provides an opportunity for the classroom community to come together to reflect on their daily experiences. Questions such as “What went well for you today and why?” or “What was challenging and how did you problem-solve the challenge?” This time allows for teachers to check the “pulse’ of individuals before they exit for the day.

Specialist Curriculum

Specialist classes are an important component of a comprehensive and progressive educational program, supporting and expanding the development of the whole child. Our Elementary students get to dive deep into each of these areas of learning for a monthly focus with each specialist.


Art lets children explore their creative visions using various tools and media introduced each week. Preschool students are exposed to artistic exploration in preschool classes with their teachers, and Elementary students meet with the school’s art teacher during designated rotation times.


Our Science class brings the wonders of science with experiential learning and integrated outdoor discovery. Elementary students develop the skills necessary to function productively as problem-solvers in a scientific world and each student is involved in first-hand exploration and investigation, and inquiry/process skills are nurtured and expanded with hands-on activities.

Physical Education

Elementary students move to strengthen and exercise growing bodies. Elementary students meet with the school’s PE teacher and learn the value of being physically fit through organized skill development, and structured games and activities in the Funroom or on the field. Health discussions and applications are incorporated into daily classes.


Students gain an appreciation of music through singing and instrumentation. Elementary students meet with the school’s music teacher and sing a varied repertoire, perform with instruments, read and notate, and learn music’s role in history and culture.


Technology, library, and digital citizen instruction, under the guidance of the school’s media specialist, exposes elementary students to various educational apps, coding, the use of the Internet with safe search and best practice querying for reliable sources, as well as practice with keyboarding. Computers, laptops, and iPads are incorporated appropriately into elementary classrooms to expand learning and enhance research skills. With a visit to the library, elementary students experience rich literature, which promotes a love of books and reading. The school’s collection includes award-winning Caldecott and Newbery literature, theme study reference books, and parent resource books and is regularly updated, analyzed, and refreshed. Our literature also represents the diversity children will experience in the world, providing mirrors and windows to their own lived experiences.

Language & Culture

World Language and Culture broaden students’ awareness of other cultures. All students have exposure through theme studies and the sharing of traditions by Chance families and teachers. Elementary students become engaged in experiences that foster cultural understanding and sensitivity along with using a second language under the guidance of the Language and Culture Teacher. 

As a result of a Virginia Chance education, a graduate will demonstrate a/an:

Social Development

  • respect for space and boundaries for self and others
  • ability to resolve disagreements in an appropriate manner and with independence
  • ability to form healthy relationships with peers and adults
  • active participation in extracurricular activities and/or service 
  • knowledge and respect of family traditions, cultures, beliefs of self and others
  • camaraderie with peers and the ability to select a peer group in new situations by using acquired, appropriate social skills
  • ability to adapt to different social situations and act accordingly

Emotional Development 

  • ability to identify and express feelings appropriately, and in an articulate manner
  • self-reliance with attitudes, beliefs and interactions in various relationships
  • ability to name a problem and seek an effective solution
  • responsibility for own words, actions and behaviors
  • ability to choose activities that support one’s areas of interest
  • awareness of personal strengths and challenges; sets goals and strive to meet them
  • appropriate feelings to match specific situation
  • ability to regulate feelings appropriately

Self-Help Skills

  • ability to regulate voice and temperament in all settings
  • ability to regulate one’s body in all settings
  • ability to care for personal belongings and materials
  • ability to care for personal hygiene
  • ability to apply concepts of rules, fair play, and cooperation
  • ability for completion of tasks and responsibilities with ease, independence and in a timely manner


Moral Development

  • understanding of right and wrong regarding behaviors, actions and words
  • value system to operate by within one’s living and learning environment
  • well-developed conscience and be fair-minded
  • desire to participate as a person of compassion within a school environment, as well as demonstrate a willingness and desire to participate in in-house and outreach community service projects and events
  • empathy and sympathy for others; respect for the environment, people and animals

Cognitive Development


  • variety of strategies to develop meaning from a variety of texts
  • love of reading
  • appreciation and understanding of and exposure to a variety of literary forms, styles and authors
  • understanding of author style and the ability to critique, summarize and analyze a given text
  • understanding of an extended vocabulary
  • application of thinking (comprehension) strategies while deciphering texts 
  • ability to effectively choose a favorite author, genre, theme for independent reading


  • ability to write with clarity for a variety of purposes and audiences; therefore, understanding and effectively using criteria related to specific genres of writing (persuasive, personal narrative, nonfiction/research, interviews, poetry, fiction, fantasy, functional, etc.)
  • ability to develop and organize ideas by using a variety of graphic organizers
  • ability to utilize the writing process (brainstorming, first draft, revision, editing, final draft, publishing)
  • ability to evaluate self-selected “best” work for personal portfolios
  • ability to write in cursive legibly


  • ability to listen to others with an open mind, with attention, and with grace
  • ability to follow multi-step directions successfully and independently
  • effective and critical listening skills during one-on-one, small group, and large group discussions with peers and adults
  • effective listening skills while working cooperatively and collaboratively with others


  • ability  to speak with confidence, clarity and fluency in a variety of situations
  • ability to speak in an articulate manner with appropriate vocabulary and expression
  • use of speaking mechanics to communicate with others effectively; the ability to use appropriate eye contact, volume and appropriate intonation
  • ability to articulate ideas, feelings and opinions appropriately, in a variety of settings
  • ability to respond effectively to a variety of recall and inferential questions


  • appreciation of mathematical tools in real-life situations
  • use of discussion, reading, writing, listening and speaking and visual representation to express mathematical ideas and processes
  • ability to reach conclusions about math problems and justify solution processes
  • ability to use a variety of strategies in computational situations
  • an understanding of number and operational sense, basic algebra and geometry, measurement, probability and statistics, patterns and relationships and multiple problem solving strategies
  • accuracy on daily work, assessments and homework

Inquiry-based learning (Theme Study - science and social studies)

  • ability to differentiate between fact, fiction and opinion in relating historical events and their place in history with possible impact on future events
  • ability to rewrite research information into own words
  • ability to present research in a logical, creative format
  • use of maps, charts, graphs, and geography tools to identify and interpret data
  • ability to use a variety of tools to gain further information (charts, books, pictures, graphs, technology tools - Smart Board, computers, IPads, Chromebooks, etc.)
  • ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively while assessing, organizing, and interpreting information and data
  • ability to incorporate processes, skills and behaviors central to science or social studies/history
  • proficiency of the following skills: observing, measuring, experimenting, quantifying, analyzing and thinking critically through collaborative and cooperative group interactions
  • understanding of the scientific process/method (hypothesis, materials, predictions, observations and conclusions)
  • understanding of the relationship and integration of STEAM thinking (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) across all curricular areas
  • ability to utilize 21st century learning skills 

Physical Development (gross motor and fine motor)

  • ability to participate in individual, dual and group sport activities
  • competence in movement concepts, motor skills and physical endurance and stamina
  • appropriate balance and coordination
  • ability to apply strategies in games and activities
  • competence with writing utensils, technology tools, manipulatives and other fine motor materials

Specialist Areas: 


  • ability to think creatively and express own ideas through artistic means
  • an understanding of the elements of art: line, shape, color and texture
  • an understanding of how to use various art tools for different art processes and experiences- drawing, painting, collage, clay sculpture, printmaking and fiber art, etc.
  • an awareness and appreciation of aesthetics
  • an awareness and respect for one’s visual expression and interests
  • an art vocabulary through oral critiques
  • recognition of styles and characteristics of various art forms and style
  • an appreciation and understanding of the historical and cultural evolvement of various art genres and influences for the future

Media (Library and Technology)

  • awareness of a variety of genres and is able to self-select favorite genres, series and authors independently
  • understanding of how to navigate a library effectively and with purpose for needed resources for research and/or pleasure reading and learning
  • understanding and ability to use appropriate keyboarding skills, word processing, database, PowerPoint and spreadsheets
  • ability to use a variety of technology tools to create, share, inform and organize research and presentations
  • ability to author, publish and conduct research successfully and independently across all curricular areas


  • ability to express creative ideas using various instruments, musical tools, and technology
  • understanding of the discipline of musical instruction and participation
  • understanding of musical influence in cultures around the world
  • established musical vocabulary
  • appreciation and knowledge of various musical instruments, styles and genres both historically and culturally
  • ability to participate in individual, small group and large group performances
  • ability to read musical notation
  • ability to create and show rhythm

P.E. and Health/Nutrition (Physical Education)

  • ability of coordination, balance, endurance, strength and core stability
  • self-discipline and self responsibility for overall health and fitness
  • ability to work/play in cooperative and competitive games and activities
  • ability to develop strategies and be an effective team member
  • ability to offer encouragement to others and display appropriate team spirit
  • ability to display positive sportsmanship 
  • ability to take risks and learn through trial and error
  • well-developed mind and body connection
  • ability to take care of personal hygiene, establish other personal healthy and nutritional habits and utilize mindfulness for overall well-being


  • understanding and respect for the environment and animals and their habitats
  • understanding of and the ability to generate new ideas about nature, life science, physical science, and earth and space science
  • understanding of the relationship of science, math, social science, art, the environment and global issues
  • understanding of and can apply STEAM thinking effectively across all curricular areas
  • understanding of scientific principles, appropriate questioning, the ability to make reasonable predictions, and use scientific methodology to problem solve, test, perform simple statistics, in order to draw conclusions
  • pride and commitment to being an environmental steward for the community and planet
  • ability to transform information and knowledge into experiences and skills that encourage active learning and creative problem solving

Guided by what's best for children, Chance School strives to accommodate the individual needs of each child. However, there are instances where we recognize that a student may require support beyond what our capabilities allow, particularly in areas such as behavior, emotional stability, or learning differences. In such cases, Virginia Chance School reserves the right to withhold placement to a student who may require such support.