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Lower School

Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4

Better is possible…At The Harley School, joy in learning is at the center of all we do. We are a community of educators and students who have a passion to learn and to impact the world around us.

We encourage curiosity and inspire discovery. Our unique approach delivers a challenging academic program that creates a diverse and close-knit community while nurturing students’ strengths and helping them reach their full potential.

Why Lower School at Harley?

The Lower School at Harley spans Nursery (ages 3 and 4) through Grade 4, offering a social and thematic curriculum that keeps children and their innate desire to learn at the center of everything we do.


Hands-on learning. Students at the Harley microfarm, a cross-divisional experience.

Inspiring excellence and lifelong learning.

In Harley’s Lower School, we expand our classroom boundaries to give students the kind of experiences that ignite childrens’ passion for knowledge, turning every day into an intellectual adventure.

Joy in learning connects children to their amazing world with their minds, hearts, and bodies. Learning is multisensory and fun. This approach helps children think independently, meet challenges creatively, and ultimately achieve their full potential.

(ages 3 and 4)

The Harley School’s Nursery program is specifically designed for children ages 3 and 4, featuring play as a vehicle for learning while engaging curious, growing minds. At Harley, we believe preschool education establishes habits of mind which form the foundation for learning—inspiring and igniting joy, which students carry with them from age 3 to graduation day and beyond.

(Kindergarten and Grade 1)

Our full-day Kindergarten and First Grade combine for a truly unique experience, allowing students to develop at their own pace while promoting growth through challenge and joy in learning.

While these formative years are technically the “start” of formal education, our students feel safe and comfortable as they are encouraged to learn through play and thematic lessons, which allow them to go beyond memorization, to understanding, applying and creating. Our children flourish when we support their wonder and meet them where they are. It’s this unique approach that sets Primary at Harley apart.

Grades 2, 3, 4

In Grades 2, 3 and 4, students explore with hands-on projects, encounter inspiration and continue to create a foundation for wonder and inquiry.

From Grades 2 to 4, children grow in so many ways. They mature as they engage with the intentional curriculum, which respects that children will approach a subject or content area differently as they experience more of the world. They hone their skills and develop proficiency in them so that they are the ones driving the learning. Not only are they learning new content and more sophisticated skills, but they are also learning how and when to use these skills as they work together, encounter new material, and demonstrate their understandings.

Our Students

As members of the Harley community, children in our Lower School flourish as learners and develop as individuals. We encourage our students to embrace their differences, celebrating diversity as they learn to actively participate in and help improve the world in which they live. Our students are not simply special because they are part of Harley. Harley is special because of them.


Learning environments.  We learn outdoors and in nature, taking advantage of our ample campus and natural setting.

Primary goals of our Lower School program are to:

  • Promote learning
  • Foster intellectual curiosity
  • Develop self-regulation and responsibility
  • Nurture personal and social growth
  • Encourage independence
  • Inspire participation and cooperation

At Harley, we emphasize a developmental approach to education that allows children to learn at their own pace and in ways best suited to meet their needs. We challenge children to master and apply basic skills while learning in new situations, as well as emphasize learning through experiences designed to meet the needs and interests of each child.

Our Curriculum

The Lower School curriculum is child-centered, developmentally-appropriate and inquiry-based, providing truly authentic learning experiences. We believe happy children learn, so our curriculum balances cognitive and academic development with social-emotional growth and self-awareness.

In the Lower School, children study math, reading, writing, social studies, and science through thematic, integrated, and hands-on lessons. Students learn what it means to be a civic person through active participation in classroom community meetings, service projects, and tending the organic micro-farm. Specialists in art, music, literature, library, performing arts, world languages, physical education, sustainability education, and technology work with students to connect and extend the academic program.

Lower School Curriculum

Project based learning. Students at Harley are active learners, applying classroom knowledge to real and authentic projects. 

Cultivating a love of literature.  The Lower School library features a world literature collection. Students in Lower School study comparative literature as part of the curriculum.

At Harley, Our Lessons Are…


We promote physical and mental fitness by providing an intentional environment that is saturated with opportunities to encourage social-emotional, physical, and mental development.


Whether in daily morning meetings, rotating lunch table assignments, or weekly community assemblies, meaningful interactions continually strengthen and refine our respect for the diverse people in our lives and the world around us.


Our small class sizes allow teachers to connect with students in ways that offer insight into their individual needs, help build confidence, establish a high level of trust, and equip students to offer their best work.


Our thematic approach allows for intentional instruction, crossing-over academic subjects and intimately weaving together lessons in ways that incorporate creativity and the arts with science, mathematics and more. It also supports student risk-taking and “failures” in order to build confidence and find creativity in different approaches to problem-solving.


Children are continually learning. Developing the ability to ask robust and probing questions to satisfy their natural curiosity, reflecting on and revising their thinking, and learning how they learn best, all contribute to them becoming lifelong learners.

Harley Highlights

  • Hands-on, experiential learning
  • Freedom within structure
    Everyone participates
  • Discovery and outdoor play
  • Small class sizes, allowing faculty to build deep connections with students
  • Experienced, vibrant, educators who understand and are passionate about children as learners
  • Thoughtful, structured schedule
  • Healthy snacks and lunches included in tuition
    Gluten-free, allergen-free, and diet-sensitive options available

Technology meets engineering. Our technology program begins in Kindergarten and features hands-on learning, using the design thinking process as well as an introduction to coding.

Acorn Grants Are Now Available!

Interested in learning how to make a Harley education possible for your child? Acorn Grants are smaller grants awarded to families who may not be eligible for need-based financial aid.  It is a grant of up to $5,000 intended to put the Harley education within reach for your family. The Acorn Grant stays with your child until graduation. 

Come for a Visit

Learn more about what makes The Harley School experience unique.

The Harley School

1981 Clover Street
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 442-1770

©2021 The Harley School