Lead / Create / Contribute
235 Hope Road, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724  /  732.542.4777

An Early Start Leads to a Strong Finish

Ranney's Lower School, including our Early Childhood Beginners (3-year olds) and Pre-K as well as our Kindergarten through Fifth Grade programs, inspires children to develop an investigative spirit and build academic and social confidence. Small class sizes and collaborative learning teams enable our faculty to know each child’s strengths and weakness to offer the right balance of challenge and support.

Our professionally trained Lower School faculty employ experiential learning activities to cultivate curiosity and a natural love of learning. During each cycle, children are provided with a range of inquiry-based science and creative art experiences, exposure to various genre of music in addition to the opportunities to explore rhythm, choral, band, and orchestra instruments. Exposure to French, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish begins early with the development of aural understanding and oral production. All Lower School students are exposed to age-appropriate robotics activities, enjoy the non-fictional and fictional worlds found in the Bharara Family Library, as well as daily use of our thoughtfully designed playground.

In the upper grades of Lower School, children have a choice of electives including Robotics, Band, Chorus, Orchestra, or a specialized art experience, such as “Young Artist Studio".

Students build confidence as they perform and engage in public speaking at Lower School gatherings and special events in our Panther Hall auditorium. Students share the school’s expansive athletic complex, which includes an indoor heated pool for aquatics instruction.

As a campus spanning age 3 through grade 12, students have opportunities to learn from older students and mentor younger students, all while learning to be good citizens and contributing members of our community. Ranney’s expansive campus offers a multitude of unique experiences where children can discover their talents and build the confidence to find their own path to success.

Lower School Leadership

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Pamela Long

    Dr. Pamela Long 

    Head of Lower School
  • Photo of Allison Reddington

    Allison Reddington 

    Assistant Head of Lower School
  • Photo of Lynn Hawkins

    Lynn Hawkins 

    Administrative Assistant, 732.542.4777, ext.2126
  • Photo of Susanne DeCristofaro

    Susanne DeCristofaro 

  • Faith Azevedo 

Lower School Curriculum

List of 8 items.

  • Reading & Writing (Orton-Gillingham)

    Ranney's balanced literacy workshop model motivates children to develop strong comprehension and decoding (reading) skills as well as composition and encoding (spelling/writing) skills. Using the Orton-Gillingham approach, literature circles, class novels, and the selection of “just- right” books, we provide opportunities for group instruction and individual skill-building. Our Learning Specialist supports students in groups at each grade level. Students participate in a Writers Workshop that includes instruction in paragraph writing, grammar, and mechanics. Students also practice penmanship—both manuscript and cursive—as well as keyboarding. Library classes each cycle support the development of literacy and research.
  • Science and STEAM

    Lower School Science is inquiry-based: teachers and students pose questions and students engage in experiments, conduct research, and collect data to build conceptual and factual knowledge. Each grade participates in annual engineering opportunities that originate with a problem to solve, introducing and enhancing student understanding of the Design Thinking process, a creative and iterative process for developing solutions to problems through hands-on construction and prototyping, and this culminates in a fifth grade Capstone Project. Students have opportunities to construct their designs in our Lower School STEAM classroom.
  • Technology and Engineering

    Students are introduced to coding and robotics early with curriculum in Beginners through fifth grade, along with Robotics as an elective in fourth and fifth grade. Our students have participated in local, state, and world competitions. SMARTBoard® technology, iPads and laptops in all classrooms support teacher instruction and student learning. Beginning in third grade, students are assigned their own Chromebook for classroom use. As a “Google School” students learn to work at school and access and extend their work at home.
  • World Languages and Global Studies

    In Kindergarten and first grade students explore French, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish languages. In second grade, students select one language to study during Lower School. Social studies units in Lower School progress from the understanding of “Me” to understanding “We,” ultimately developing good citizens with a global perspective. Leveraging the Historical Habits of Mind curriculum, students seek evidence, build empathy, understand cause and effect, identify connections and reflect on social impact locally and globally. Lower School field trips reinforce learning. Experiences range from nearby trips to explore the rich local history to visits to Ellis Island, Philadelphia, and the United Nations.
  • Performing and Fine Arts

    Students in fourth and fifth grade may participate in a spring musical production (in an ensemble role in fourth grade and in a cast role (or tech & set-design) in fifth grade). Third, fourth and fifth-graders may elect to participate in Band, Chorus, or Orchestra. Fourth and fifth-graders may elect to participate in Graphic Arts. All Lower School students participate in music and visual arts, taught by specialists, each cycle. Qualified orchestra, band, and chorus students may participate in the Central Jersey Music Educators’ Association honors festivals.
  • Health and Athletics

    Students participate in Physical Education (including aquatics instruction) three times per cycle. “Sports Combo” and Panther Cubs sports clinics introduce students to a variety of sports. Health includes instruction on topics such as safety, nutrition, and hygiene. Parents are invited to preview instruction on puberty (fourth/fifth grade).
  • Character Education and Community

    Daily Morning Meetings empower students to create their own class rules, nurturing a sense of belonging and emotional safety in the classroom. Bi-monthly Division Gatherings (led by fifth graders) focus on community values (e.g., respect, gratitude, responsibility) and feature student presentations and performances. Parents play an important role in building community through the Ranney School Parents Association (RSPA) and by engaging in classroom activities and events as outlined by the grade level teachers. All Lower School parents are invited to special events and performances, and Parent Gatherings offered on various topics of interest approximately once a month. Students have many opportunities to participate in community service and service-learning projects. Students participate in project-based learning in our Community Garden and design thinking in the Innovation Station. Experiential education is found throughout the day including lunch where students practice manners and conversation with classmates and adults at their tables in the Commons dining hall.

    A variety of after-school activities are offered to our students each trimester. Ranney also offers Summer Enrichment courses offering remediation or enrichment as needed.
  • Extended Day Policy

    The Extended Day Program (EDP) is intended for working families to help with after school childcare. There is a lottery system to enroll into the EDP.

List of 6 items.

  • Kindergarten

    Academic life becomes more formalized and structured in Kindergarten. Students come to school dressed in uniform and are expected to accomplish tasks in various settings and manage their own supplies. Playtime remains an important part of the program, but now there is much more emphasis on academic instruction and lengthening attention span. Kindergarten students focus on the development of listening, speaking, thinking and writing skills. In Kindergarten, we develop organizational skills and independent work habits. Students learn to take responsibility for following directions and completing homework class projects. Students also learn to become responsible citizens within the school community as they help their teacher, grade-level faculty and peers with classroom tasks.

    The primary goals for kindergarten students are to become independent readers and eager problem solvers. They explore language arts, learn to recognize consonants and vowels, apply phonetic rules and recognize weekly “red” words. These skills are developed using the Orton-Gillingham approach to foundational literacy skills. Through sentence writing and drawing, students begin to develop self-expression. In Mathematics, students learn to problem solve and help their teacher with daily word problems that focus on sequence, pattern tracking and on the monthly calendar. Students are also expected to grasp numerical concepts, such as numbers with greater or lesser values; solve math problems in addition and subtraction up to the number 18; and count by twos, fives and tens up to 100.

    In addition to classroom subjects, Kindergarten students also explore art, music, world languages, library, science, health, technology and physical education (including aquatics), with specialized teachers for each area. Favorite projects among our Kindergarten students include our family traditions study and student-of-the-week presentations, which support the development of information gathering, public speaking and creativity resulting in families becoming an integral part of our classroom life.
  • First Grade

    First grade marks the big step from early childhood into elementary school, a time when children face many new and exciting challenges. The first-grade program is built upon the educational foundation developed in our Early Childhood program.

    Further development of Language Arts is an integral part of first grade. Creative writing is emphasized through poetry and stories, and independent reading is fostered through instruction in guided reading groups and supplemented with applied practice in personally selected leveled literature. Fiction, biographies, folktales and fables are all explored. Skill instruction concentrates on the development of phonetic skills, fluency, comprehension, retention and understanding word meanings. A variety of projects, such as book reports and art activities, are incorporated into the curriculum helping to reinforce reading and public speaking skills. Our students are exposed to a variety of literary genre. Throughout first grade teachers cultivate a desire to learn through reading within our students .

    The use of Math In Focus: Singapore Math provides first-grade students with a cohesive and sequential pathway to developing a strong conceptual understanding of number and operations through problem-solving. Students develop number sense through a variety of activities that use concrete manipulatives to represent number, place value and operations. As students experience how numbers work, they incorporate the use of pictorial strategies, such as number bonds, as they begin to move toward working with numbers in a more abstract manner. Students develop their ability to compose and decompose numbers, a critical skill that enhances their ability to calculate mentally when problem solving. Students master basic facts and tackle complex addition and subtraction problems, develop concepts of time and money, and apply measurement skills to real-life problems.

    First-grade science is inquiry based and hands-on. The scientific method and laboratory skills are reinforced, and a wide variety of experiments and discussions take place. Topics introduce students to concepts in earth science, biology, chemistry, environmental science and physics. The use of technology tools further allow students to explore and better understand how things work.

    Technology plays an important role in the first-grade curriculum. A project-based integrated approach to learning a variety of technology tools is used. Student instruction in technology can take place once a cycle or as often as necessary to complete a project in a timely manner. Students are introduced to word processing, computerized drawing, age-appropriate Internet use and keyboarding. They also begin developing research skills using the Internet. Internet safety is emphasized and computer and/or Ipad use is integrated into all classroom learning.

    Organization and study skills are taught in first grade as well, including managing homework folders, and planning for projects and tests, so that by the time first-graders progress to second grade, strong independent study habits are in place and they are prepared for the next level of challenge.
  • Second Grade

    Second grade is the time to extend and strengthen concepts and skills that have already been mastered as well as learn new skills and strategies. By introducing more complex and challenging material and by encouraging independent learning, our students develop initiative and confidence in their growing skills.

    Reading continues to develop in second grade as students strengthen their ability to decode (read) and encode (spelling) multisyllabic words while increasing fluency and efficient expression, which results in greater comprehension of the material. At the close of second grade, students shift from  “learning to read” to “reading to learn” in third grade. Guided reading provides time for direct skill instruction while the students will develop their facility in the application of reading strategies to the self-selected and appropriately leveled books in their book box. Our Charlotte’s Web unit is well loved and is always one of the highlights of the year!

    In a writing workshop format, children begin to express themselves through the written word. A creative writing journal is introduced. Students work on organizational structures, grammar and the mechanics of writing skills. They also learn to apply their spelling and vocabulary skills in all subjects. In addition, cursive (script) writing is taught and used for the first time.

    The development of essential study and research skills commence in second grade.  Some special monthly highlights are:  oral and written book reports, a "family feather” for Thanksgiving, January research projects focusing on important historical figures, and a Charlotte’s Web diorama giving students the opportunity to put their communication skills and creative talents to use.

    As students develop their mathematical thinking, the Math In Focus: Singapore Math program introduces second-graders to bar modeling, a critical tool used throughout the remainder of the program to analyze and create a visual model of how to interpret and solve a presented math problem. In addition, students begin to learn multiplication, division, graphing and real-world problem-solving involving multiple steps.

    Students in second grade truly enjoy and thrive with hands-on learning experiences as they begin to study new content in science and social studies. They study the concept of “community” and what that means. They also learn about important historical figures and events. Here, the first concepts of geography are introduced by studying maps, continents and world cultures. Science is inquiry based, providing students opportunity to explore activities and seasonal themes that focus on plants and animals, heat, light, sound, machines, magnets, electricity, air, water, engineering and the mechanics of the human body. Students begin to develop an understanding of the components of the scientific method.

    Technology plays an important role in the second-grade program. The use of computers and other technologies as tools for learning is project based. Students learn to use various tools to acquire knowledge or to express their learning. Therefore, word processing is strengthened to aid students in transferring their thoughts onto the computer, which provides for efficient editing and revision. Ipads offer opportunities to strengthen skills in all content areas.
  • Third Grade

    In third grade, the learning environment is focused on encouraging each student’s desire to learn. Study techniques and time-management tips are taught, moving students to become more independent and self-motivated by completing daily homework assignments and preparing for and taking tests. Computer skills are reinforced, organization skills are emphasized, and educational software on computers and ipads as well as the Internet are used for research and communication.

    As always, language arts and mathematics are at the core of the curriculum found within all subjects. In language arts, students concentrate on creating well-developed sentences and paragraphs and hone their spelling and grammar skills. Reading comprehension is developed using modeled skills. Guided Reading provides direct instruction in fluency and comprehension skills. Third-grade students apply their skills as they read literature such as: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz. The reading of novels is followed up with a creative project related to the book.

    In mathematics, students begin to move from concrete learning to pictorial and abstract thinking by deepening their conceptual understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. With Math In Focus: Singapore Math, students apply learned concepts and skills to solve a wide range of multi-step real-world problems. They strengthen their use of bar modeling to demonstrate visually the question actually posed and the steps necessary to solve sophisticated real-world problems.

    Students explore geography focusing on identifying the seven continents, major oceans, and the states so they recognize “where” they are in the world at large. They learn about New Jersey’s regions, people, and history and how they relate to and impact each other. Students learn to apply research and presentation skills when completing projects related to what they have learned. In the spring, a Native American unit culminates in a special Lenape Day celebration.

    In third-grade science, students are engaged in a learning process that begins with curiosity and moves toward scientific literacy. Units of study include: electric circuits, the solar system, the rock cycle, soil decomposition and weathering. They plant a Three Sister’s Garden while learning about plant growth and development.Engineering projects are incorporated into the units where appropriate.
  • Fourth Grade

    In fourth grade, students practice writing skills in every subject. Using the writing process and the writing workshop format, students go from generating ideas to a series of conferences and revisions to a completed project that fully articulates their thought processes. Writing workshop introduces personal narrative, poetry, personal essay, science fiction and literary essay. The writing process is used when completing all major written projects. While the curriculum becomes increasingly demanding, there are great opportunities for student creative expression and exploration.

    Students read independently on a daily basis immersing themselves in authentic literature, guided reading groups, and independently selected books. Students analyze material, apply sequencing, inferencing, and synthesizing skills, as well as collect and evaluate information in all subjects. Students identify author’s purpose for writing by focusing on main ideas and supporting details and character motivation by making inferences about characters’ words, actions and interactions. Novel Study includes titles such as: The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, Shiloh, Number the Stars, and Holes. Students prepare a book report based on individual Newbery award winning books. Further, students become active participants in learning through discussion and through individual and group projects.

    Mathematical concepts and skills are developed to facilitate sophisticated problem-solving. Math instruction incorporates the use of concrete materials and pictorial representation as students develop their ability to think abstractly. Math In Focus: Singapore Math for fourth grade develops students’ abilities in the areas of multi-digit multiplication, place value, long division, fractions, decimals, geometry and measurement. Students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division on a higher level and with multi-digit numerals. Students further develop critical thinking skills with multi-step word problems through the application of bar modeling, a mathematical tool that allows students to demonstrate visually their understanding of the problem posed and their strategy for solving.

    A study of North America and the different regions of the United States and the location of each state are part of the focus in Social Studies. Students investigate the geography and culture within each region of the United States. Reading and comparing maps also provides opportunities for conversations about major geographic themes, such as human interaction with the environment, movement and Earth’s regions. Each student prepares a report on a state and completes a timeline of the life of a famous African-American. The students also complete an immigration project showing what they have learned about their own history and how it relates to immigration and the United States. Use of reference materials and note taking are also modeled and reinforced.

    In science lab,students become familiar with the nature of science and the habits of mind as they investigate mixtures and solutions, light and color, motion and design,earth’s shape and gravity, schoolyard habitats and gardening. Students begin to apply the scientific method by developing hypotheses and recording observations to reach a conclusion.

    Morning meeting and the responsive classroom approach is an important part of fourth grade comprised of four sequential components which include greeting each other, reading the morning message, sharing, and a group activity. This is a place where students learn social skills and build a classroom community. Students become active in the life of the school through class trips, after school programs, and clubs.
    The technology program in fourth grade is designed to support student projects and classroom demonstrations. With this is in mind, students study word processing, publishing and spreadsheet applications. They also develop more advanced research skills using their own laptop and other  technologies in the classroom, the Lower School's Searle Library and the media center.
  • Fifth Grade

    The fifth-grade curriculum is designed and presented with emphasis on organization and study skills. This is accomplished through the use of an organized folder for student work, class webpages, and the use of calendars for planning and executing long-term assignments. Students are guided to the efficient application of a system for the recording of class notes and test preparation. Students develop skills with the use of both hardbound and electronic reference materials, such as the dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, almanac and encyclopedia. The technology lab, SMARTBoard, Internet and 1:1 laptops are used for researching topics of study and for aiding in the development and creation of projects.

    In Language Arts, we emphasize the development of advanced reading comprehension skills. Through guided reading, teachers model and guide use of effective reading strategies and comprehension skills. Students are taught the conventions of good writing, which include punctuation, grammar and strategies for accurate spelling. The writing skill that is a focus in fifth grade is self-expression which is applied throughout a selection of genre.

    Math In Focus: Singapore Math helps fifth-graders students build solid conceptual understanding of math principles, which are then applied to unique problem solving situations. The program makes use of a concrete-pictorial-abstract progression bringing depth to understanding and number sense. Students use various types of bar modeling to visually illustrate the analysis of multi-step word problems. This process allows students to later articulate their thinking through conventional algorithms.

    Social Studies begins with understanding the reasons European countries explored and claimed land in North America. The curriculum includes the study of colonization, slavery, tension among the colonies, and unity of 13 colonies in their fight for independence. Students experience social studies through innovative teaching practices that include dramatic role playing, creative simulations, research, group projects and writing activities.

    By the time students get to fifth-grade science class, they have progressively improved their abilities to conduct scientific investigations independently and in small groups. They are making careful observations, measuring with greater accuracy and using evidence to support their thinking. Units of study include: Atoms, Elements and the Periodic Table, Characteristics of Life, The Engineering Process, Cells and Body Systems and Pond Ecology.  

    Capstone is a culminating project focused on a personal topic of interest in which our students are expected to use their repertoire of Lower School academic skills and experiences to complete a fully integrated paper and presentation. This significant experience highlights media research, English, literature, technology skills and public speaking.

Ranney School

235 Hope Road
Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Tel. 732.542.4777

Our mission is to know and value every child, nurturing intellectual curiosity and confidence, and inspiring students to lead honorably, think creatively, and contribute meaningfully to society.