Beyond the Classroom
Chapin recognizes that educating the whole child is essential, so that they may begin to develop into creative and thoughtful young adults. The school provides Lower School students with a variety of opportunities to explore the world outside of academics. Students participate in the performing arts, community service projects and special programs designed to foster their abilities to develop healthy and lasting relationships.
Organized by both Chapin and our sister school, Brearley, Clubhouse is an after-school enrichment program for students in Kindergarten through Class 5. Students who participate in Clubhouse can also take advantage of an extended-day option that allows them to remain at Chapin as late as 5:45 p.m.
Under the supervision of teachers and qualified Clubhouse personnel, students have the chance to broaden their imaginations, increase their level of physical activity, and develop a deeper appreciation for the arts through the diverse range of activities offered each trimester. Participation in Clubhouse — especially interacting with students from a neighboring school — encourages the girls to widen their definition of community. They go beyond the boundaries of their own experiences by working together and exploring an array of perspectives.
Clubhouse activities may include:
- Dance Adventure
- Inventions and Concoctions
- Jewelry Design
- Kids Engineer
- Science Wonders
In keeping with Chapin’s mission of helping young women develop community responsibility, Lower School students engage in a number of community service and service learning projects throughout the year. Most projects are guided by each grade level’s homeroom teachers. For example, students may help to collect food for shelters, donate books to people in need or visit the elderly at a nursing home. Students also take on various initiatives themselves, holding bake sales, for example, to raise money for our sister school, The Kibera School for Girls in Kenya.
While girls in the Lower School have ample opportunities to express their creativity inside the classroom, they also sing, dance and act in a variety of performances, and display their artwork throughout the school.
With support from the arts department and homeroom teachers, students at each grade level develop a performance that is uniquely their own. In Kindergarten and Class 1, students improvise dances and songs based on picture books. They are guided by the dance and music departments, and learn the basics of occupying a stage and delivering dialogue. Class 2 girls separate into small groups, each group developing a short play based on a chosen theme, such as fairy tales or creation myths, which is enhanced with song and dance. In Class 3, students develop a story derived from the three countries — India, China and Kenya — studied in social studies. They incorporate songs and dances from those countries and create a musical.
Often, student artwork is incorporated into the performances. In addition to being displayed in select school locations throughout the year, student paintings, drawings and sculptures are featured in the Lower School art show held each spring.
No matter the grade level, every girl has numerous opportunities to speak, sing, dance and create. She develops confidence in her ability to perform in public, and gains the understanding that the arts are a powerful medium for self-expression and exploration.
In the Lower School, Chapin’s Life Skills program helps students develop their social, emotional and physical awareness, so that each girl may gain the confidence, resiliency and empathy to lead a thoughtful, engaged life. A full-time school psychologist works with Lower School students, faculty and parents on Life Skills programs and issues, including mindfulness exercises once per cycle in each classroom.
Activities are varied and take place both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom, many assignments encourage students to use “I” statements to talk about their emotions, wishes and hopes. Such “I” statements help girls begin to learn to advocate for themselves and to communicate clearly with others. Other activities, such as role-playing exercises, allow students to practice handling confrontation within friendships.
A bi-monthly group named Banana Splits brings together students who have experienced divorce, separation, death or other loss in the family. Girls get together to work on fun activities and art projects as a way to connect with one another and share what they may be experiencing. For girls who are adopted, a bi-weekly lunch group provides girls with a caring, supportive environment in which to discuss their family experiences.
Every Lower School student learns to respect herself and others, maintain healthy relationships, communicate clearly, and advocate for herself, thus laying the foundation for a successful and well-adjusted life.