Academics

Curriculum Overview

The curriculum of Covenant is designed to support the school’s mission:

To provide an exceptional education for children as image bearers of God in order that they might enjoy and reflect his wisdom and beauty.

The final goal is missional:

To prepare students for a life of service to God.

We achieve this by teaching from a Christ-centered worldview, developing reasoning and rhetorical skills, and by reflecting upon truth, goodness, and beauty.

The curriculum for each grade includes:

Bible
Students learn that God’s Word is truth, and that it is applicable to every facet of life and learning. The teaching of God’s Word is integrated into all areas of study, including history, science, mathematics, language, literature, and art, and students are shown how the Bible provides the foundation and context for all learning.

In daily Bible classes, students study the Bible sequentially from Genesis to Revelation during the Grammar Stage (Grades 1-5) and again sequentially at a deeper level in the Logic Stage (Grades 6-8). More extensive biblical and theological studies are completed during the Rhetoric Stage (Grades 9-12). Through the study of God’s Word, students develop an understanding of the main events and people in Scripture, basic theological concepts and major biblical themes, the attributes and characteristics of God, and the plan of salvation. Students are immersed in the lives of those faithful to the spreading of the gospel, are encouraged to develop the Christian discipline of regular memorization of Scripture and consistent prayer, and are encouraged and equipped to become life-long students of the Word of God.

Language Arts
Our Language Arts program encompasses and integrates phonics, literature, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and composition. In Kindergarten through Grade 2, students receive intensive phonics instruction to equip them with the phonetic skills needed to become fluent readers with strong comprehension. Students are introduced to high quality children’s literature beginning in Kindergarten. Teachers read aloud to the students and ensure that they are developing listening comprehension skills, which provide the foundation for reading comprehension. Students narrate, or orally summarize, the stories that they have heard, further developing both their listening comprehension and oral language skills.

In all grades, a variety of excellent literature is used to teach reading skills and to encourage a love for reading. Students are carefully monitored to ensure that they are learning to read fluently, both orally and silently, and that they are learning to fully comprehend what they are reading. In the Grammar Stage, comprehension is focused on answering, orally and in written form, concrete questions about the literature being read, summarizing key sections, and describing character traits. In the Logic Stage, as the capability for abstract thought matures, students learn to analyze literature, reading carefully and critically with an understanding of the Christian worldview and identifying world views of various authors. Throughout all of the stages, students are encouraged and equipped to develop a life-long love of reading excellent literature.

As students are encouraged to develop a passion for reading, they are also given the skills to become excellent writers and speakers. In the early grades, students learn to spell correctly, learn basic rules of grammar, and memorize and recite poems and passages from the Bible and other great literature. They learn by imitating the works of great authors, reproducing dictated passages and copying passages from classical works of literature. Students are taught how to construct correct sentences, write coherent paragraphs, and compose effective essays. They are introduced to many styles of writing through the study of excellent literature, and are required to speak and write often and correctly in all subject areas. They learn what a gift language is by dissecting and arranging it in winsome, coherent, and convincing ways.

History and Geography
Like all other areas of study, History is taught from a Christian worldview. Knowing God depends on knowing History – what God has done for people as recorded in the Scriptures, and what He has done for people in the last two millenia. Knowing oneself also depends on knowing History – where we came from and why we are who we are. Students see God’s providence as it is revealed in recorded history, learn the historical significance and chronological position of major people and events of history from creation to the present, and develop an understanding of the influence of historical events on contemporary thought and culture.

History is taught using a literature-based approach, including an emphasis on primary sources and biographical studies. Students are also encouraged to be “self-educators” by delving deeper into topics that are of particular interest to them. World History is studied chronologically, from ancient to modern times, in Grades 1 through 7, enabling students to develop a thorough understanding of the context of historical events. Although the latter part of these studies includes significant study of the role of America in World History, a more in depth and comprehensive study of American History and the U.S. Constitution is completed in Grade 8. Geography is also studied systematically and comprehensively, with a different part of the world covered each year during the Grammar Stage. In the Rhetoric School (Grades 9 – 12), students complete a more in depth study of World History from ancient to modern times.

Mathematics and Science

Mathematics

Mathematics is a powerful language used to describe relationships and patterns. The certainty of its results are achieved through the application of pure logic. The language of mathematics communicates truths which are found not only in the physical world, but also in the abstract realm where its outcomes are often surprisingly useful and also astonishingly beautiful. We pray that our students will not only develop an appreciation for the power and beauty of mathematics, but that this appreciation will direct them to gaze upon the living God, the author of all mathematical truth, and that they will worship Him for His limitless power, perfection, and beauty.

In order to derive the greatest benefit from the study of mathematics, it is crucial that students are trained to think deeply about concepts and to trace the logic behind each and every result. Instead of forcing students to rigidly adhere to prescribed steps, we must encourage them to experiment, explore, and to keep asking questions. This has a formative effect on the minds of young students, producing more disciplined, logical thinking. It also yields a much stronger retention of the material, the flexibility to apply knowledge to new situations, the ability to discern best approaches to problems, and a true delight in the subject matter.

Science

Students explore deeply the physical world God has made and are encouraged to appreciate its awesome beauty and complexity. Students are given the intellectual tools to understand complex scientific concepts and to pursue scientific careers if they so desire. They also reflect critically upon the place of science in our society and learn to appreciate that science is a human discipline that has developed over time and is subject to change.

In the Grammar Stage, students develop an understanding of basic scientific terminology, vocabulary, and the scientific method, and enjoy many hands-on experiments. Students are shown that, because God created the universe, it has inherent order which makes it possible to hypothesize and experiment, as well as to identify, classify, and categorize elements of Creation. As studies progress, students learn to differentiate between theory and fact. They become familiar with major scientists in history and their contributions and discoveries. Students develop an increased appreciation for God’s perfect design in nature and the universe, and man’s stewardship of the earth.

Latin
One of the fundamental aspects of Classical Christian education is the study of Latin. Latin was regularly taught in American high schools as late as the 1940s. It was considered essential to a fundamental understanding of English, the history and writings of Western Civilization, and the understanding of Romance languages. However, like many traditional particulars of good education lost in the name of “modern” or “progressive” education, Latin’s advantages have been neglected and forgotten in recent times.

Students at Covenant begin their study of Latin in third grade. The primary benefits of the study of Latin include:

  • Latin is a very systematic language, and trains the mind to think in an orderly fashion. Students of Latin are trained in a method of rigorous analysis, and the ability that is acquired is not limited to Latin. The study of Latin equips young minds to encounter unfamiliar material in a disciplined way.
  • Latin is not a “dead language”, but rather a language that lives on in almost all major western languages, including English. The study of Latin improves English vocabulary since approximately 65% of English words have Latin roots.
  • Inflective languages, those languages such as Latin that have case endings which require memorization and analysis, are superior for improving language skills. The study of Latin greatly improves students’ understanding of the nature of grammar and languages in general, improving English skills and overall understanding of languages and communication.
  • The study of Latin lays an excellent foundation for subsequent study of any of the Romance languages, including Spanish, French, and Italian, since they are based on Latin, as well as the study of law, medicine, and other professional disciplines.
  • The study of Latin greatly enhances the understanding of the history and writings of Western Civilization, and the impact the classical cultures have had on our modern culture. Rhetoric School students who have completed extensive Latin studies are able to delight in reading ancient texts in the original language.
Logic
Logic is the skill of correct thinking and conceptual development. It is the thinking through of similarities, comparisons, and differences in order to induce the correct general conclusions. Studying logic and practicing logical thinking prepares students for the development of wisdom. Unfortunately, logic is all but forgotten in modern schools.

During the Logic Stage (Grades 6-8), students study the various types of logic including informal logic, categorical logic and symbolic logic. Logic has a central place in our Logic Stage curriculum in that it is a subject and skill that is applied and used in virtually every other class. For example, students in history, literature or science classes are required to think logically about the content they study and to respectfully expose any fallacies they detect in texts, presentations, or discussions. Their writing in these classes is assessed for logical sharpness, and examinations presuppose and exercise logical skill. These skills in logic are also foundational for more extensive studies in the Rhetoric Stage (Grades 9-12).

Art
Students are encouraged to appreciate and imitate the beauty of God’s creation through art. Students are taught to use a variety of art media and are taught the basic fundamentals of drawing to enable them to create adequate renderings. A subset of the students’ art projects are integrated with the historical period that the students are studying to further reinforce these studies.

Students observe great artwork, learn about the history of the works and the relationship between art and culture, and describe and discuss their opinions of the works. They also learn by imitating the great works they have observed as they begin to develop their own creativity and self-expression. Students are encouraged to express themselves artistically in a manner that honors God.

Drama
The Theatre and Drama program at Covenant introduces students to one of the earliest expressions of western thought and cultural activity: the tradition of dramatic literature and theatrical performance. Tales of epic adventure and the practice of storytelling punctuate the historical past. Which of us do not enjoy a great story?

Students at Covenant experience how stories are told and re-told through the lyrical splendor of dramatic verse, dialogue and action. In the context of a classical approach to education, the program seeks to engage and delight students of all ages with the rhetorical beauty of great dramatic literature; it also strives to give the students an understanding of both the historical and cultural contexts of these narratives, and how the dramatic arts have informed western thought and literature over time.

The program at Covenant equips students to ask meaningful questions of the dramatic text and performance event. When and under what circumstances were these plays written and produced? Which prevailing ideas and historical events inform the content of the literature? How are these texts in dialogue with their cultural moment? Students are also asked to think about the conditions of performance. For example, how was Aeschylus’s Agamemnon produced during the 5th century BC? How does the spectacle and stage-craft of the ancient Greeks impact the meaning of the dramatic verse? Upper school students are challenged to consider the complexity of theatre history and the production of accurate historical evidence. Finally, the students are asked to view the performance event as a way of reading and interpreting the historical past.

There is also a vital practical component to the Theatre and Drama program at Covenant. During the school year there are productions by the Upper School and Grammar School, with scripts written or selected to complement the historical and literary material the students are studying in their core studies. Particular emphasis is placed on the students’ verbal expression. Students are trained to properly use their voices and bodies on stage, simultaneously equipping them for successful public speaking. As the program develops, students will be given the opportunity to try their hands at script writing and adapting prose for the stage.

Music

“Sing unto the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things…Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn–shout for joy before the LORD, the King” (Psalm 98:1, 4-6).

At Covenant Classical School we firmly believe that music forms a central and important role in education as well as in the life of every believer. God has graciously given us this gift of music. It brings refreshment to our souls and with it, we glorify God and extol His name.

As far back in time as we can know, music has been an important facet of every culture. We can trace the study of music back to the writings of the early Greeks, beginning with Pythagoras (500 B.C.). Plato and Aristotle’s doctrines of the nature of music were foundational components to education in the Middle Ages. During the Medieval Period, music had significant emphasis in the quadrivium as a speculative science (musica speculativa). In addition, many students aspired to enter clerical orders and their musical training was primarily practical in nature (musica practica). The reformer, Martin Luther, benefited from the study of both musica speculativa and musica practica. He was a strong proponent of music education in the schools. He recommended that musical training should be given to children of all ages. He suggested, “All children, large and small, should practice music daily, the first hour in the afternoon.”

In the classical Christian school, one aspect of our methodology is the integration of all subjects. We have seen how music is useful to aid grammar students in the memorization of facts and doctrines. However, the study of music in and of itself is a tool to unlock the beauty and mysteries of the world God has made. Music is the champion of integration–within the study of music lies the science of sound, mathematics, history, poetry, philosophy, and theology. Music study is also beneficial to one’s character development in the areas of perseverance, self-discipline, and teamwork.

Foundational to a classical Christian education is the pursuit of goodness, beauty, and truth. Most Christian schools have been strong in the area of truth and goodness. However, beauty has either gone the way of the popular entertainment industry or it is sorely neglected or avoided all together. The study of aesthetics is not an easy task, but one that Christians must undertake.

The arts in any given culture are a reflection of what kind of worldview is at the core of that culture. In the popular culture of our day, who would deny that music takes a central role in the promulgation of an individualistic, youth-focused, and materialistic society? If this is true, how important it is to reclaim this art and set it at the feet of Christ! What better way can Christ’s people take back the culture for godly music than to commit ourselves to educate diligently, thoughtfully, and patiently our children to pursue and relfect what is beautiful.

The Music Program at Covenant

At Covenant, students are instructed in the fundamentals of music theory and vocal and instrumental music, and are encouraged to select some area of vocal or instrumental music to pursue in depth. Students develop an awareness of and appreciation for various musical styles and forms. They listen to the works of great composers, learn about the history of the works and the relationship between music and culture, and describe and discuss their opinions of the works.

Grammar School

In the grammar stage, much attention is given to experiencing instrumental and vocal music through listening, singing and engaging in eurhythmic activities. A wide range of music is introduced from a variety of historical periods and cultures. The students begin the process of developing musical literacy. Emphasis is placed upon cultivating a deep appreciation for music.

Logic School

In the logic stage of music, students are given the opportunity to order music knowledge in a variety of ways. In music history, they will trace the development of music throughout time in its historical context. In music theory, they will be challenged to further their understanding of language and notation of music. In music performance, they will be introduced to hymns and songs from the various historical periods of music.

Rhetoric School

In the rhetoric stage of music, students are provided with opportunities to put into practice all that they have learned in the grammar and logic stages. The rhetoric stage focuses mainly on performance as well as the continuation of music theory, composition, and conducting. This course is designed to meet the musical needs and interests of the serious music student, students who desire to further their knowledge of music, or for students who intend to enter the ministry.

Physical Education
Students are encouraged to recognize that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and, in cooperation with parents, are encouraged to knowledgeably establish and maintain good health and nutritional habits. Students are taught basic exercises and the benefits that these exercises provide for various body systems, as well as the function of different muscles and how to strengthen them. Instruction is provided in basic game skills such as throwing, hitting, kicking, and catching, helping students to improve coordination, agility, strength, and endurance. Biblical patterns of behavior are encouraged through activities requiring cooperation, team work, and good sportsmanship in competitive situations.

In third grade, students begin the study of Latin, which is essential to a fundamental understanding of English, history, and great literature. Also integral to a classical education are the study of formal Logic, which begins in 6th grade and formal Rhetoric, which begins in 9th grade.
Academic goals are achieved by following the sequence of the curriculum; each grade level presupposes and builds upon the previous grade. Class sizes vary according to grade and course, but are limited to 18 students.

We strive to establish a stimulating and supportive environment in which average and above-average learners are challenged and thrive, and in which students develop a love for learning and the desire to be life-long learners. Our Classical Benefits page highlights additional benefits and national academic performance averages of students educated in the the classical approach.

No one truth is rightly held till it is clearly conceived and stated, and no single truth is adequately comprehended till it is viewed in harmonious relations to all the other truths of the system of which Christ is the centre. ~ A. A. Hodge

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