Language Arts

Our language arts curriculum is focused on propagating a love of language, reading, writing, and communication. Every teacher prioritizes reading and writing as the building blocks for all other subjects and every classroom is language- and literacy-rich. We provide a strong foundation in language arts guided by research-based practice and the Common Core State Standards.

To cultivate strong writers and communicators, our teachers use the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Workshop. Instruction is provided responsively in small groups and individual conferences, and teachers emphasize the writing process—brainstorming, drafting, revising and publishing—in all grades. Teachers supplement this approach with Sitton Spelling and Word Skills, Classical Roots word study, and daily grammar lessons.

Our students:

  • build competency in reading, writing, oral communication, word study, and handwriting every day
  • are exposed to rich, varied multicultural and multi-genre literature
  • apply critical thinking skills to analyze literature and reading passages
  • learn the strategies, skills, and tools to write in many genres—from narrative and opinion/argument to fiction and poetry
  • practice public speaking skills in small groups, whole class discussions, and individual presentations apply research skills to their writing


We believe that math is a universal language and an invaluable tool for understanding the world and solving problems. At every grade, our students explore mathematical concepts and discover new ideas, always building their knowledge and proficiency.

The NPES curriculum aligns with National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Common Core State Standards and combines computation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills in a format that directly ties math to students’ lives.

Our students:

  • learn basic math fact skills, place value skills and the meanings of operations
  • use manipulatives, drawings, oral and written words, and symbols to represent and solve problems
  • find patterns, use logical reasoning, and build their critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • find multiple paths to solutions, and use both standard and invented algorithms to solve problems
  • revisit math concepts over time in different ways, in increasing depth, and using different contexts and examples
  • learn to take risks and approach problems from multiple angles
  • support their ideas with evidence and explain their thinking in written and verbal formats while developing the skill of automatic recall of number facts and procedures


Children are inherently curious and naturally approach the world like scientists. From our constructivist perspective, we believe that new knowledge is acquired when exploration and discovery are at the heart of learning in a dynamic, hands-on environment.

Our teachers are guided by the Next Generation Science Standards, which define cohesive, age-appropriate standards based on current research and international benchmarks. Emphasizing depth over breadth, these standards provide a guideline to the key scientific ideas and engineering practices that all students should learn.

Our students:

  • begin scientific inquiry with a thoughtful, challenging question that arises from practicality, curiosity, or invention
  • explore questions further as they observe, share data and ideas, and examine literature
  • engineer models, test and retest ideas, develop new approaches, and revise assumptions or hypotheses
  • make observations and collect data systematically through science notebooking
  • analyze and interpret data to draw conclusions and develop theories
  • take risks and tinker while seeing failures as progress toward learning
  • think critically, analyze information, and solve complex problems
  • engage in well-developed and thoughtful arguments based on evidence
  • communicate information orally, in writing, and through creative presentation tools
  • take a deep dive into physical science, earth and space science, life science, and engineering
  • learn overarching science concepts such as cause and effect, and energy and matter understand the real-life process of science and its relevance in our rapidly changing world

Social Studies

Social studies at NPES centers on a meaningful curriculum that helps prepare students for lives as members of the global community. Aligned with Illinois Social Science Learning Standards and National Council for the Social Studies Standards, our teachers have designed an interdisciplinary, skill-based curriculum with a focus on the five themes of social studies—history, geography, economics, culture, and government.

At NPES, social studies extends beyond the classroom. Student-led projects give learners the chance to share their discoveries with the broader school community. And, through civic engagement and service learning, students gain an understanding of their place in the community and their ability to impact the world around them.

Our students:

  • follow important current events and learn about them in the context of history
  • revisit themes and concepts in a spiraling fashion over the years in increasing complexity to build on their understanding and reinforce previous learning
  • study the five themes of social studies from a local, state, regional, US, and global perspective
  • reenact history by taking on the roles of historical figures, participating in debates and visiting historical museums visit Springfield, Illinois, and Washington DC, as part of their study of the Illinois and US Constitutions

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