Lower School: 1st-5th

Venture into the hallways of NSU University School's Lower School and you will witness children who are joyfully engaged in learning, whether in the classrooms, the hallways, or the outdoors. In addition to emphasizing proficiency in reading, writing, and math, our Lower School curriculum focuses on world languages, social studies, science and innovation, physical education, and character development. Music and visual arts are also an integral component of our curriculum as they help to develop creativity, open-ended thinking, and cooperation.

We know that children are naturally curious, and our Lower School educational team cultivates each child’s curiosity and imagination, inspiring a love of learning. The Lower School curriculum is research-based, meeting children at their academic level of readiness. We guide our students to take risks, stretch themselves, and become critical thinkers, preparing them to meet and surmount high academic standards.

We also know that children learn best when they are given hands-on activities, which can take many forms. In the Innovation Lab, students build working robots out of technology scraps. To learn about supply and demand and sales and profits, fourth grade students sell gently used toys to raise money for a non-profit organization. Our youngest students are often the source of the biggest ideas at USchool. Our goal is to ignite learners’ minds in limitless ways.

Personalized Instruction in the Classroom

Lower School finds the best in all of our students by providing them with multifaceted classrooms and an instructional methodology that differs from traditional models. Our faculty members approach the teaching and learning process by identifying differences in children and finding their best learning styles. Teachers act as facilitators and enable students to be the center of the decision-making process. Classroom learning is considered to be active and engaging.

  • Student learning profiles control instruction (readiness, interest, etc.).
  • Assessment is diagnostic and ongoing.
  • Multiple options and choices are common.
  • Academics receive an interdisciplinary approach, curricular integration, and a thematic approach.
  • Varied instructional arrangements are used on a regular basis.
  • Integrated use of technologies enhance individual student learning.

THRIVE (4th and 5th Grade)

Our fourth and fifth grade students have the opportunity to participate in a unique program called THRIVE, which focuses on teaching organizational skills, study skills, goal making, time management, prioritization, how our brains control our body, and the exploration of fixed versus growth mindset.

Over the course of eight weeks through a series of discussions, students are able to learn how to effectively plan for the week, both academically and socially, and learn to approach life with the idea that they can accomplish anything through hard work.

Electives (Grades 3-5)

In grades three through five, students have the opportunity to explore their interests and choose an elective. This elective is offered one day during their "specials" rotation and runs throughout the school year.

Students can choose to explore:


Lower School Drama is an introduction to theatre. Students will practice movement, vocal exercises, improvisation, script writing, and will read scripted material to increase knowledge of theatre and comfort in speaking publicly. Most of all, students will have fun and learn about theatre arts while creating a character, play, or working on a game.


Musical Theatre is a class where students learn the fundamentals of movement theatre, including vocals, choreography, acting, and stage elements. Throughout the year, students will have the opportunity to learn and explore an assortment of musicals and prepare a short musical presentation for the Lower School in the Spring.


The Digital Arts class is designed to introduce students to a variety of digital skills while encompassing creative and critical thinking. Students will sharpen these skills through participation in video production and digital photography. Students will explore each component of digital arts for one semester.


The Computer Coding and Robotics class introduces and builds concepts in basic computer coding and VEX Robotics. Students will apply their critical thinking to create original coding programs. In Robotics, students work together in small groups to problem solve and build a working robot. Students will complete one semester of computer coding and one semester of robotics.


The Dance elective is a developmentally appropriate movement and dance activities class. It is a choreography based co-ed class that explores ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and modern dance styles. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the annual dance concert, however, participation is optional. In order to participate in the dance concert, students must be available for both performances and the dress rehearsal. Performance dates will be announced at the beginning of the school year.


The Strings class is designed to introduce students to the violin. Students will learn to read notes in first position and play familiar melodies. Technique and proper form will be stressed. Students will have the opportunity perform at the end of the year in the Spring Concert with the Middle and Upper School students. A limited number of violins can be rented from the instructor or can be rented from local music stores.


This class provides students in fifth grade with an opportunity for beginning instruction on a traditional wind band instrument (flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, etc.). Using a standard band method book, students on different instruments can progress in both individual skills and group ensemble. The class will prepare them for advancement to Middle School Band.


World Language in the Lower School is part of the specials’ wheel rotation. Students may choose to study Spanish or French. During this class, students will be introduced to learning basic conversation in French or Spanish, as well as an introduction to the culture.

Innovation and Science Labs

Children are naturally curious; this quickly becomes evident as one observes them interact with the world around them. Our Lower School students learn about science by doing science. Hands-on activities, carefully crafted experiments, and regular visits to our Science Lab expose students to the scientific process of hypothesizing, classifying, comparing, making predictions, observing, and drawing conclusions.

Many of these concepts carry over into the Innovation Lab where students explore concepts of engineering, programming, robotics, and STEM skills through hands-on activities and experiential methods. Technology is naturally embedded into many activities in the Science and Innovation labs, as well as in their classrooms every day. Both labs lend themselves to guided and authentic discover, building each student's interest in the evolving world in which we live.

After school activities

The After School Activity Program provides opportunities for students to pursue interests and talents beyond the regular school curriculum. This program supplements the daily experiences of NSU University School students by providing specialized instruction in a variety of areas weekday afternoons, between the hours of 3:30 and 5:00 p.m., on a fee basis.

Some classes include, but are not limited to:

  • Art for Beginners
  • Yoga and Mindfulness
  • VEX Robotics
  • Weaving
  • Lego League Robotics Jr.
  • Cooking Classes
  • Curtanna
  • Gymnastics and Tumbling
  • Cheerleading
  • Chess
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Ballet
  • Hip Hop
  • Musical Theatre

After care is also available from 3:15-5:45pm at an extra charge. Early morning supervision is provided daily from 7:30-8:05am at no charge.


  • BCCTM (Math) Club
  • Book Clubs
  • Intramurals
  • K Kids (Key Club)
  • Performing Arts Groups (singers, chimes, and recorders)
  • School Newspaper
  • Science Club
  • Spanish Club
  • Spanish Heritage Club
  • Treasures & Dreams Journalism Club
  • Wonder League (Innovation Club)
  • WUTV

Students also have the ability to create a new club.

Special events

  • Afternoon of Art
  • Book Clubs
  • Book Fairs
  • Career Day
  • Cultural Unity Week and Fair
  • Engineering Week
  • Fairytale Festival
  • Field Day
  • Grandparent's and Special Friend's Day
  • Hour of Code
  • International Feast
  • JA BizTown
  • Junior Author Celebration
  • Key Club Carnival
  • Leadership Breakfast and Retreat
  • Make-a-Wish Market
  • Math Olympiads
  • Mind Lab Tournaments
  • Mother's Day Tea
  • Noetic Math Competition
  • Penny Harvest
  • People Fair
  • Read-a-thon
  • Shark Tank Jr.
  • Souper Bowl of Caring
  • Spelling Bee
  • Thanksgiving Feast
  • Theatrical Performances
  • Word Master Challenge
  • 50th Day of School Celebration and Sock Hop
  • 100th Day of School Celebration

Student leadership

  • Make-a-Wish Student Board
  • Safety Patrol
  • School Store
  • Student Government

Faculty Highlight

Lower School News

Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy

Congratulations to Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal for completing the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy (NIXLA) – an online strategic diversity leadership development and institutional transformation program. The immersive, highly selective five-week program offered Kaiyal an invaluable opportunity to further develop her skills as a leader and identify powerful institutional strategies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at NSU University School.

Read more about Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy
Ready, Set, Write!

Lower School students spent their mornings this week participating in an informal writing assessment called the Great Write Shark, which is a means of assessing the development of skills that have been taught over time.

Read more about Ready, Set, Write!
Lower School Breaks Fundraising Record for American Heart Association

During the months of February and March, our Lower School students participated in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser in their physical education class where they learned about heart healthy skills and had fun with their friends jump roping. We are thrilled to report that our Lower School raised more than $24,000 for the American Heart Association, making this the most money raised for this event in school history!

Read more about Lower School Breaks Fundraising Record for American Heart Association
Ms. Michele Garren

Lower School Innovation Lab Instructor, Ms. Michele Garren, is one of our in-house STEM experts and enthusiasts who teaches engineering, electronics, robotics, and coding to students beginning in junior kindergarten and progressing through fifth grade in our cutting-edge Innovation Lab.

Read more about Ms. Michele Garren