Because Daystar’s curriculum is designed to reflect the interrelatedness and beauty of Creation, learning is multi-faceted as students explore the complexity and diversity of the world. Students explore curricular content through integrated, thematic units and the fundamental skills of reading, writing, numbers and thinking are emphasized throughout the curriculum. Through this approach we seek to develop enthusiastic, joyful, and disciplined life-long learners.
Through the language arts program, students develop their ability to read, write, speak, and listen. Quality literature is the backbone of the reading program with a focus on reading for meaning. At the primary level, a phonetic approach is used to develop spelling and reading skills.
Throughout the year, teachers assess and diagnose student reading skills and respond with focused, deliberate instruction to develop students’ reading skills. Students learn to identify cause and effect, to distinguish fantasy from reality, and to recognize patterns and irregularities. From the beginning students are taught reading behaviors such as predicting, skimming, clarifying and summarizing. Each year students study a number of literature genres and authors from different cultures.
The language arts curriculum stresses the enjoyment of language and communication. Students develop a love for story and realize the importance of writing as they use it throughout the program. The development of writing skills are taught as a process requiring prewriting and planning, drafting, revision, editing, and presenting or publishing. Students are constantly challenged to discover and clarify their thoughts and to express themselves coherently and effectively. Grammar, mechanics, spelling, research and study skills are taught as tools that serve the communication processes. An anthology of student writing is published each year.
Vocabulary development is also an important part of the program. Students work with words they encounter in literature as well as key words in areas such as, science, math, and social studies. In the upper grades, students work toward an understanding of word relationships and etymologies to arm themselves to interpret widening circles of meaning.
Students have regular opportunities to learn and practice speaking skills. This occurs throughout the program through such activities such as book reviews, story retelling, group discussions, presentation of unit and home projects, scripture reading, and creative drama. Public speaking is the focus of a special event held each spring.
Daystar students learn basic math concepts, acquire computational skills, and are encouraged to apply problem-solving strategies to everyday problems.
The math program is designed to challenge students at their own level of mathematical thinking by making use of manipulative materials, skill specific games, practice, word problems, and “thinking stories.”
The Saxon Math program provides the structure of the math program. It is a “hands-on success-oriented series that emphasizes manipulatives and mental math.” The program is divided into three main components: instruction, practice, and assessment.
The continual practice built into the program helps students commit concepts to long-term memory
and makes it easer for them to recall and use the concepts in the future.
The study of a foreign language and the culture of its people enhance students’ understanding of others. Learning languages increase students’ listening ability, memory, creativity and critical thinking - all of which are thinking processes that increase learning in general.
It also enhances students’ general academic achievement, promotes positive attitudes toward diversity
, and increases overall sensitivity to language. Daystar teaches Spanish starting in kindergarten.
Instruction in the fine arts imbues children with an aesthetic sensibility with which they can respond to God’s creation.
Through the arts, students can touch the humanity of others—especially those different from themselves, developing an appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures.
Professional artists are regular and welcomed visitors to Daystar to share their work and experiences.
In the visual arts, students explore a wide range of materials and techniques, learning the unique nature and characteristics of each. Students are introduced to line, shape, volume, pattern, and balance — developing a "visual vocabulary” for communicating with art.
In music, students participate in a variety of musical experiences and develop their own musical capabilities. They learn the language of music, study famous composers, and explore the music of other cultures and different eras in history.
In drama, students engage material and express themselves through activities including choral readings, reader’s theater, role-playing, pantomime, skits, and plays. Students also have opportunities to participate in staged plays and musical performances.
Students participate in physical activities for enjoyment, skill development, self-expression, and social interaction. They practice and develop basic skills for team sports, individual sports, exercise, fitness, rhythm, dance, and movement.
Topics of health units include nutrition, systems of the human body, health habits, dental hygiene, fitness, and drug education.
In the science program, students explore the created order through unit studies in physical, earth, and life sciences. Each year students explore at least one topic from each of these three areas. The program is designed to introduce scientific content through firsthand experiences. Classroom and onsite investigations engage students in observations, measurement, interpretation, prediction, and other processes essential for the development of scientific literacy.
Special effort is made to observe and study the natural world at close range. Spring Valley Nature Center, Lake Michigan beaches, Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, Shedd Aquarium, Garfield Park Conservatory, and the Morton Arboretum provide a variety of opportunities for students to interact with ecosystems, plants, and animals.
Through their science explorations students gain an understanding of the laws God has established to govern creation, the importance of using the resources of the earth responsibly, and how creation is intricately interdependent.
Through the Social Studies program students develop the skills and tools needed to study cultures, areas, and eras. They gain an appreciation of the dynamics of cultures both similar to and vastly different from their own.
Using an integrated, thematic approach, students investigate the interaction of people with each other and with the world in which they live. They develop a geographic framework in which to explore how land features, climate, and resources impact cultures and people. As they look at historical events, they explore the impact of decisions at the time and for the future. Biblical themes such as justice, stewardship, responsibility, economics, and community are explored and discussed as the essence of the units.
The rich resources of the city of Chicago provide learning spaces for these studies. For instance, Daystar students learned about China by spending a day in Chinatown and eating in a Chinese restaurant. They learned about Chinese Culture through visits to the Art Institute, the Field Museum, and the Chinatown library. When studying transportation, students toured Meigs Field, the Chicago Airport system, Union Station, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute.
The story of God and His people is the foundation of the Bible curriculum at Daystar. Through storytelling, children in the lower grades shape their own identity with God’s people as they respond imaginatively to the stories. Students in the intermediate grades study the Biblical narrative to discover God’s character and understand his relationship with his people. Middle school students explore how God’s Word shapes our worldview and guides us in our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world.