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Text: %22Phillips Brooks School Curriculum Guide%22 over image of thoughtful student in the Library

Curriculum Guide:


Academics are the heart of what we do at Phillips Brooks School. Our approach teaches students so much more than how to read and write or add and subtract – it teaches students to consider why an answer is correct, to see multiple pathways to the same answer, and to consider answers that haven’t yet been found.

Our students are artists and musicians, scientists and mathematicians, inventors and discoverers. PBS students love to learn, and the things they learn at PBS inspire them to start their own projects or seek out opportunities for deeper understanding.

They build and code and solve. They ask juicy questions and seek out answers, with an array of tools for building knowledge at their disposal. We believe the world needs more young people ready for the struggle required for intellectual discovery and invention. PBS is here to prepare them.

We define our academic program across all grade-levels by outlining three key objectives from our Five Promises and the 10 Things We Know and Love About PBS:

  • Deliver a challenging and collaborative curriculum
  • Balance outstanding academics and thoroughly integrated emotional intelligence
  • Hire and develop inspiring teachers whose expertise and growth mindsets ensure a high-quality classroom experience

The Basics

Photo of students in the Early Learning Center around Mr. Mars, who is reading a book

The Early Learning Center is a joyful, vibrant space where teachers facilitate a Reggio Emilia-inspired early-childhood program for children 3 to 5 years old. Children turning age 3 by September 1 are eligible to join our preschool program; those turning age 4 are eligible for our pre-Kindergarten program.

The ELC is usually comprised of one preschool, one pre-kindergarten, and two mixed grade classes. Each classroom has one lead teacher and one associate teacher; ELC is also supported by an additional associate teacher who dedicates regularly scheduled time and support in each class.

Our elementary program consists of 2 homeroom classrooms at each grade-level. Each homeroom is designed for 20 to 22 students with one lead teacher. Kindergarten through 2nd-grade classrooms have one associate teacher each; the 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade classes share one associate teacher per level.

In these homeroom classes, students delve into core subjects like literacy and mathematics. Resource specialists teach library, music, physical education, science, technology, and visual art. Instruction in emotional intelligence is core to our academic approach and is woven throughout the curriculum.

In addition to lead, associate, and specialist teachers, students are supported by 3 learning specialists – one focused on the ELC, one on our K–2 learners, and one for our 3–5 students – a Student Wellness Manager focused on emotional intelligence instruction, and two grade-level directors who oversee curricular development and faculty growth.

Unique Experiences

  • Individualized, personally meaningful learning: workshop-, lab-, and project-based approaches are inquiry-based, hands-on, and connected to genuine interests.
  • Students are empowered as agents of their own progress, with a vested interest in their intellectual and personal growth.
  • Vibrant, dynamic activities and active investigations are typical across all areas of the curriculum.
  • Collaboration and respect for different perspectives are key components for successful team- and community-building.

Best of Both Worlds

  • Strong academics and practice in emotional intelligence are thoroughly integrated, modeled, and practiced throughout each day.
  • Individualized learning for each child happens in a highly collaborative atmosphere.
  • Students see sustained, focused development of their cognitive and interpersonal skillsets, including critical thinking and creative problem-solving strategies: resourcefulness, resilience, extensive experience with public speaking, positive relationship-building attributes, powerful teaming abilities, technology and media literacy, and memorable service-learning partnerships.

Flourishing Children

  • Every teacher is dedicated to understanding each child as a learner and a person. We know and love each student.
  • All learning experiences are intentionally designed to cultivate students’ individual strengths while building a compassionate community.
  • Students are guided to reach their full potential through continual challenge and shared reflection in a supportive and empathic setting.

K–2 Overview

We believe that the first few years of school are a time for making new friends, engaging intellectually with curricular topics, building self-confidence, and discovering how much fun it is to learn!

Our Kindergarten through 2nd grade program is designed to instill curiosity and wonder, whether students are learning science, math, literacy, or any other subject.

Home Learning

PBS values family time and play time. Our intent is to minimize any stress at home associated with homework; therefore, our approach is flexible.

Kindergarteners begin bringing familiar books home and practice reading aloud with their parents or caregivers starting in the spring.

1st-graders receive a school-to-home reading folder and are expected to read for 10 to 15 minutes on most weeknights.

Homework begins in 2nd grade and consists of a home-learning packet and independent reading. It is expected that this will take about 20 to 30 minutes, on average, per night each week. This can vary, depending on a family’s schedule.

In order to accommodate after-school activities and free time, home learning is often assigned early in the week and due near the end of the week. Some home-learning projects may even extend over the course of a month.

The goals of home learning are to…
  • Apply concepts learned in class to the real world (prepare a meal using math; invent a solution to a problem; visit the local library)
  • Provide a meaningful way for students to show their families what they are learning about in school
  • Help students develop responsibility and organizational skills
  • Build strong work habits

3–5 Overview

In our upper-elementary grades, students build their academic skills and dive deeper into their learning, expanding their curiosities while also growing their independence.

3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders know more about themselves, care deeply for their friends, and become greater advocates for themselves and their community in their reading, writing, and speaking opportunities.


Homework assigned in 3rd–5th grades serves a variety of purposes:

  • Help students develop responsibility and organizational skills
  • Create strong work habits
  • Reinforce concepts already covered in class
  • Encourage and incentivize independent reading

Reading is an essential part of homework at PBS. Upper elementary students are expected to read every day, for approximately 30 minutes.