Curriculum Overview

Our liberal arts curriculum is rooted in a Catholic humanist tradition, a unique academic and evangelical approach to Catholic education, which instills in students an understanding of their inherent dignity as children of God, and the intellectual freedom to seek and recognize Truth. We strive to fulfill our mission by ensuring that our school motto, “Fides, Scientia, et Gaudium” is woven into every aspect of our curriculum

Classes include Religion, Reading, Language Arts (English, Spelling, and Handwriting), Mathematics, Science, Natural History, Social Studies, Fine Arts (Art and Music), Health and Safety, Physical Education, Computer Education, Library and World Languages (choice of Spanish or Latin in 7th and 8th grade), Muses:  A mix of Drama, Recitation and the Arts, Music Drums and Choir (7th and 8th grade), Trivium (7th and 8th grade).

Additional elements are woven into the educational experience at St. John the Beloved Academy to best facilitate growth and development. We have a modified block schedule, a beautiful campus featuring a large outdoor playground and fields, multiple recess time to enhance student concentration and time outdoors, a house system to help strengthen and cultivate our Mission which encourages school spirit, friendship, and fun, just to name a few.

Please refer to the Parent Page of the Arlington Diocese website for a detailed list of curriculum guidelines at https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/catholic-schools/curriculum-guidelines/.

Religion

Students receive Catholic religious instruction daily including Chapel time. Weekly and monthly Masses are offered for all grades and a personal prayer life is cultivated in each of our students. The books used are:

  • Sadlier Publishers for grades K-4
  • Sophia Institute used for grades 5-8

Language Arts (English, Spelling, Handwriting)

Success in all areas of learning relies on competency in the four areas of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. In working toward this goal, recognition of varying learning styles, developmental levels and teaching methods is essential. We also use The Well Trained Mind™, Writing With Ease series which teaches elementary students how to transform thoughts into coherent paragraphs.

Many of our elementary school teachers have Received Orton-Gillingham Training, which is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia. This training includes understanding:

  • The nature of the dyslexic learner
  • The neurobiology of reading
  • Reading development from decoding to reading for knowledge
  • The OG Approach: principles and knowledge of lesson plan design
  • Knowledge of the history and structure of the language
  • Knowledge of the basic assessment measures
  • Intensive supervised practicum

Lower School Grades

Reading

Students in grades kindergarten through third grade use the Daily 5 framework for literacy. This helps students build their reading stamina and proficiency. The daily practice in reading to self, listening to reading, working on writing and word work help students to become better readers and writers.

 

Spelling

Teachers use “Words Their Way” word sorts, which help students to study and learn spelling based on common spelling patterns, and to identify “oddball” words that don’t follow these patterns. Nightly practice of the word sorts and assigned spelling activities reinforce the patterns and how they can be applied to new words. 

 

Handwriting

Students use the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting series to practice manuscript letters and cursive handwriting to learn correct letter formation, and proper word spacing. 

Intermediate & Middle School Grades

Reading and Language Arts

A classical curriculum in Language Arts is offered for grades 4-8. The Literature Program is an intensive course that introduces students to the world of classical literature. Rather than utilizing a textbook, the students read, analyze, and discuss the material presented in a variety of novels, plays, short stories, essays, and poetry covering such topics as justice, faith, hope, war and peace, human relationships, and the human condition. The literary forms in which these topics are presented include allegory, irony, satire, parody, picaresque novels, comedy, narratives, suspense, tragedy, sonnets, odes, and Romantic and Elizabethan poetry in addition to these elements, 7th-8th grade students study rhetoric and humane letters as an extension of our Language Arts Program.

In addition to their reading assignments, students hone their writing skills with a significant number of writing assignments. We have also incorporated the use of Humane Letters and Rhetoric into our 6-8 curriculum as well as The Well Trained Mind™, Writing With Skill which helps with teaching other skills for middle school students, such as outlining, research, citation, and the construction of full-length essays in history, literature, science, and other subjects.

 

Mathematics

The Mathematics Curriculum uses the Singapore Math method for students in grades K-6. Our modified block schedule allows math classes at all levels to be scheduled at the same time of day. This allows students to move up or down a level as needed.

This method is focused on mastery, which is achieved through intentional sequencing of concepts. Some of the key features of the approach include the CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) progression, number bonds, bar modeling, and mental math. Instead of pushing through rote memorization, students learn to think mathematically and rely on the depth of knowledge gained in previous lessons.

An attitude that math is important and approachable is also essential. Students perform at a higher level when their potential for understanding and success is assumed.

Advanced Math is offered in the middle school, including Pre-Algebra and Algebra I.

 

Science

The science program uses the Memoria Press curriculum, which has two goals prior to high school science. First, to introduce students to the world of nature by studying the things it is made up of through outdoor exploration and observations —birds, insects, trees, mammals, and the heavenly bodies. Second, students are given a narrative account of the development of the sciences—they are given science in a story form, in a way they can best understand it.  Some additional highlights of the program include:

  • Emphasis on an ecologist/naturalist approach to scientific inquiry
  • Appreciating God’s creation
  • Learning powers of observation, documentation, and analysis through use of a nature journal
  • Exploring concepts in physical science, ecology, botany and anatomy and physiology

 

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum objective is to help students gain a basic knowledge of patriotism, civics,  national symbols, geography and map skills, and to develop a sense of the importance of family and community and respect for the rights of others. Social Studies is taught alone as well as integrated into a daily curriculum where it can become part of the core subjects.

In addition, our school’s curriculum includes the “The Story of the World Series” by A Well Trained Mind™. This four-volume set covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Fine Arts (Art & Music)

Art

The goal of our art program is to encourage creativity, development of motor skills, focus, perseverance, and confidence in students.

 

Music

Students learn the fundamentals of sight-singing and music theory, building on the Ward Method taught in classroom music. Additional offerings include:

  • Multiple Choirs offered
  • Optional Music lessons on Friday
  • Drama and Theatrical training and performances

Physical Education

Play is an integral part of our curriculum which helps enhance student concentration. Our Physical Education classes promote and model lifetime wellness by teaching health concepts and physical fitness activities which are an integral part of a holistic Catholic education. Our students participate in physical education three times a week and have multiple recess times throughout the day.

World Language

Students are fortunate enough to have weekly Spanish language classes in grades K-5. Middle school students are given the option of taking Latin or Spanish for 6th – 8th grade.

The curriculum teaches listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture with emphasis on communication. Classes expose students to the beauty and richness of other languages and civilizations. The study of world language strengthens cognitive thinking skills and supports the native language of the student and reinforces English grammar.