Learning to Love Learning
The early years of students’ education are so important — for the academic foundation they will build, the character they will develop, and the worldview they will form. As a parent, you’ve poured into your child and want to ensure the values you’ve instilled in them will be reinforced, not challenged. At Portsmouth Christian Academy, we partner with parents to equip their young learners for meaningful lives, integrating biblical truth in the classroom and beyond.
The Lower School at PCA encompasses kindergarten through grade 5. We refer to grades K-2 as Primary and grades 3-5 as Elementary. During these formative years, our students experience the joy of community and develop a love for learning that will carry them through their academic journeys.
Below, you’ll find an overview of our program, including:
Differentiated Learning in a Christ-Centered Environment
We believe that God made each child unique and recognize that no two students learn in the exact same way. Because of our small class sizes, teachers can differentiate instruction to connect with students and maximize their learning. Through phonics-based reading, hands-on math, STEM-based science, and blended learning, students build a strong academic foundation as they become critical thinkers.
Bible study is not limited to one part of the school day. Teachers model biblical principles and integrate God’s word into every subject, instilling Christian character and values in their students. At PCA, we don’t just want our students to become good learners; we want them to become good friends and community members, who love God and their neighbors.
Why Do Families Choose PCA for Primary & Elementary Grades?
Parents who choose PCA value a strong academic program that will provide solid foundations across the core subject areas. Attitudes about school are formed early on, which is why our Lower School teachers utilize Whole Brain Teaching, a method that keeps young students active and engaged. As a result, our students develop an authentic zeal for learning.
In Lower School, core subject areas include:
Students begin exploring their God-given talents and discover new interests through our enrichment classes:
A Sense of Security for Parents & Students
Safety is our number one priority, and we go to great lengths to ensure that parents and students have peace of mind on our campus. Well-designed, age-appropriate classrooms and playgrounds allow students to learn and explore in a safe, high-quality learning environment. An on-site security coordinator, on-site nursing staff, and a thorough emergency operations plan set the foundation for safety at PCA. Our exterior doors are locked at all times and our interior doors remain in the locked position when both open and closed for quick response. Additionally, we run background checks on all faculty, staff, and volunteers, so you can rest assured that anyone interacting with your child is known and trusted.
We encourage parents to be involved in the life of our school and welcome them to campus often. A few ways for you to be involved include:
Day in a Life of a PCA Lower School Student
A typical day at the Lower School begins at 8:10 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. Busy parents appreciate the opportunity to utilize our before and after-school programs, which run from 7:15 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m, respectively. While the schedule for each grade level varies slightly, Lower School students generally move through the following daily activities:
Each morning begins with prayer and an engaging Bible lesson. On Fridays, students attend Chapel, worshiping with the campus community and hearing inspiring messages.
Our phonics-based curriculum promotes strong literacy skills and helps students become avid readers.
Young learners need brain breaks and plenty of fuel to keep their minds and bodies active throughout the day.
We create an early excitement for math using manipulatives and hands-on activities. Teachers differentiate learning to keep pushing students to the next level of proficiency.
Students are able to bring lunch from home or parents can purchase lunch through our Lunch Program at the beginning of each quarter. Students love seeing their favorite restaurants offered at lunch time; vendors have included Chick-Fil-A, Panera, and local restaurants offering sandwiches, pizza, and Chinese food.
Whether in music class or P.E., students look forward to learning new skills, playing fun games, and interacting with our dedicated enrichment teachers.
Students learn about God’s world through hands-on STEM projects, explore our country’s history, and discover how they can be good citizens.
Lower School students move from honing their handwriting skills to drafting their own short stories, an amazing transformation.
Meet One of PCA’s
Lower School Teacher
Ms. Shanna Ketchum
Educational Background: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Secondary Focus in Psychology
Years of Experience: Over 13 years total; 8 years at PCA
Favorite Book: Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
Words from Ms. Ketchum:
“When students feel seen, known, and loved, it opens the door to learning in so many ways.“
For me, teaching starts with relationships. It’s such a joy to learn about my students so I know each one more deeply, and I believe it’s important for students to have moments where they see different sides of their teacher. The excitement they get when I join in a game of Gaga Ball, go sledding with them, or sing along to their favorite songs is fun for me, but also builds the connection we share.
The PCA community (co-workers, students, and families) is unlike any other I have been part of as a teacher. I have been so blessed to witness students pray for one another, raise money for charity at Christmas instead of giving each other gifts, make a prayer blanket for a sick student, be baptized, and so much more. These are moments that will stay with me for years to come.