Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago's Children Since 1876


Primary School: Pre-Kindergarten-Grade 2

Letter from Elizabeth Coleman, Head of Primary School

Coming to a Sacred Heart school, you have entered into a family and have come to a home." So begins Life at the Sacred Heart, the long-standing School Rule for Sacred Heart students around the world. This is an especially appropriate description of the Primary School, in which our youngest students are first introduced to the family of Sacred Heart. During these beginning years, students come to know their new school family and, in time, begin to think of Sacred Heart as a true home.

The Primary School lays the foundations for children as students and lifelong learners in a nurturing and stimulating environment. Teachers are well versed in the developmental stages specific to this age group and work to instill an excitement about learning and an eagerness to form community. The coed kindergarten lays the groundwork for the Schools' co-institutional model, allowing boys and girls to get to know one another. In 1st grade, children break into single-gender classrooms, allowing teachers to tailor the learning in their classes to the needs of each student using their knowledge of brain research, of educational theory and of each child in the room.

We focus on instilling confidence and a sense of belonging in these early years at Sacred Heart. Teachers and administrators work to know each child individually and to provide the kind of daily encouragement that allows all children to flourish. Kindness, respect and responsibility are all qualities we actively seek to affirm in our youngest students.

We also work to lay a solid foundation of skills that will support later learning. In the Primary School, we carefully and purposefully balance developmental growth and academic achievement. Early learning cannot be rushed. No two children learn the same way, or at the same pace, and so we make sure there are enough adults on board—homeroom teachers, teaching assistants, special area teachers, an enrichment coordinator, and reading support teachers—so that learning opportunities can be individualized in ways that benefit each child.

Children this age learn best by doing, which is why our curriculum is organized around inquiry-based, hands-on activities in line with the children’s genuine interests and real world contexts. Children explore a variety of topics through reading, writing, and active investigation. They publish class books and perform plays they have written. They practice multiple problem-solving strategies and work on explaining their mathematical thinking. They do the work of real scientists as they question, observe, and analyze phenomena they experience in the natural world. They build French and Spanish vocabulary through games, projects, and role-playing. They express themselves creatively through the visual and performing arts. The Sacred Heart Primary School places children on the path to a life-long love of learning. Our curriculum encourages curiosity, stimulates thinking and helps to instill in each child a sense of self-confidence. 

Our goal is for students to leave the Primary School with confidence in their abilities, a sense of joy in and responsibility for their new school family, and the security that all members of the community are working together to help them grow to be their best selves.


Primary School Curriculum


Meg Steele
Head of Schools

Dr. Elizabeth Coleman
Head of Primary School

Marjie Murphy
Director of Curriculum and Instruction

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