Elementary School at Matheny

In Matheny’s Elementary School classrooms students engage in creative lessons that follow the New Jersey Common Core State Standards and the Core Curriculum Content Standards. Students participate in centers-based learning to foster academic and social skills growth. They learn to take turns, actively listen, make decisions, and participate in highly motivating interactive lessons.

Matheny teachers utilize the Accessible Literacy Learning (ALL) curriculum, a highly effective method for teaching students with disabilities to read. Developed at Penn State, this program is specially designed to meet the needs of students with complex communication and physical access challenges. ALL eliminates the need for oral responses, helping non-verbal students to learn to read.

The teachers, therapists, and paraprofessionals continuously collaborate to provide developmentally appropriate experiences in the classroom that encourage our students to become more active decision makers in creating their own milestones. A Centers-Based Learning approach is used to enhance academic progress while reinforcing appropriate social skills.

Assistive and educational technology is a major part of each student’s instruction. Because of this emphasis on technology, Matheny students establish the ability to have individualized communications and their learning opportunities increase through the hands-on and interactive experiences.

Monthly assemblies and field trips to destinations such as museums, aquariums, and sporting activities reinforce student learning objectives.

Key Goals of the Elementary School:
  • Enhance academic learning while reinforcing appropriate social skills
  • Develop each student’s ability to have individualized communication
  • Develop essential literacy skills
  • Develop student’s interest levels through a multi-sensory approach to learning
  • Increase each student’s knowledge of grade level topics through hands-on and interactive learning experiences

Visual and Performing Arts

Music and Art classes provide another modality for student learning. Instruction follows the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) and all the activities conducted in these classes support the instructional content occurring at the student’s respective grade level.

Through the use of multisensory instruction our music classes provide the students another avenue for articulating their own thoughts and ideas. Listening, seeing, moving, feeling, and participating are all important aspects of the music curriculum. Music Instruction is integrated with the thematic units occurring in each elementary school grade level so there is close collaboration among all teachers and the reinforcement of learning.

Students create music with iPads, conduct recording sessions, and produce annual music variety shows with the use of adapted instruments.

Our art classes provide motivating opportunities to see and experience the world through visual, three dimensional and tactile modalities. Lessons are designed to support classroom instruction as a collaborative approach to reinforce self-direction, decision-making, and the art standards.

Materials are adapted to maximize student participation through positioning, fine motor adaptations, and specialized communication supports. For example, while studying the Renaissance period of history, students lying face up and using adaptive splints to hold paint brushes were able to experience what it must have felt like to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

For many of our students, movement activities and developing individual physical abilities offer important opportunities for self-expression and skill development. Physical Education (PE) at Matheny School focuses on the development of motor skills and patterns, hand-eye coordination, body awareness, and overall fitness. Adapted PE teachers continually make adjustments in the program to accommodate each student’s needs and to maximize participation.

The goals of our Physical Education program are to:

  • Improve body awareness
  • Enhance lifelong health and physical fitness
  • Identify functional independence through adaptations
  • Develop the student’s confidence and build self-esteem through realistic short-term goals

Matheny School students experience team spirit and utilize the skills they’ve learned during PE class by participating in adapted versions of traditional sports. Through the use of adapted equipment and modified rules, students engage in such sports as:

  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Football
  • Lacrosse
  • Basketball
  • Golf
  • Floor Hockey
  • Swimming
  • Baseball
  • Obstacle Course Relays

These team activities provide the students many opportunities to develop their leadership, problem solving, cooperation, teamwork, and social interaction skills.

Our students particularly enjoy the occasions they compete against regular education students at public and private schools as part of Matheny’s Community-Based Adapted Physical Education Program. During these visits, all the students utilize adapted and assistive technology to compete in traditional physical education activities such as soccer, football, and bowling. For information about participating in this Community program contact: jhintenach@matheny.org.

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