Grade School

Grade School

St. Monica Academy students in grades 1-8 follow a comprehensive and cohesive classical curriculum which
includes the study of religion, language arts, math, history & geography, science, art, music, Latin and PE.

How Our School Compares to National Standards

Click on the image to the left to see how St. Monica Academy students compare to national averages.


In addition to formalized religious instruction in first through eighth grades—which uses the Baltimore Catechism, Golden Bible, lives of the saints, and the Faith and Life series—the literature and poetry selections complement the religious instruction, and the Latin studies include the memorization of prayers in Latin. First and second grades focus on preparation for First Confession and First Communion, which take place in May of second grade. Religious instruction for fifth through eighth grades includes reading the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Mark, the Acts of the Apostles, The Case for Christianity, and The Story of a Soul (autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux).

Language Arts

Language arts instruction begins in first and second grade with an emphasis on phonics as a tool to learn reading. Students also begin to build grammar and vocabulary, to comprehend what they read, to spell and write sentences, memorize and read poetry, and master handwriting. The development of these skills continues throughout the grade school years using grade-appropriate texts for the study of spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. The language arts curriculum includes a rich library of student- and teacher-read books, stories, and poetry. A small sampling includes, in the lower grades, the Little House on the Prairie books, and poetry by Longfellow, Milne and Stevenson.

Literature throughout the grade school years complements the studies in history and geography. During the fourth grade year when students study California history, for example, they also read Island of the Blue Dolphins, based on a true story about the survival of a Chumash Indian girl abandoned on an island off the California coast in the early 1800s; Blue Willow, the story of a family of itinerant farmers in the Central Valley; Patty Reed’s Doll, the story of the Donner party; Anita of Rancho Del Mar, the story of life on ranchos near Missions set in Ventura County; By the Great Horn Spoon, stories about the California Gold Rush; The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps, a novel about the building of the railroad and Chinese laborers; Journey to Topaz, a novel about the Japanese internment during World War II; The Stories of Juana Briones, stories told by a Mexican immigrant whose family helped build the presidio of San Francisco; Stowaway to California, a novel about Father Junipero Serra, and two books about the California Gold Rush.


Grade school students use the Saxon Math series for first through eighth grade instruction. Beginning in the third and fourth grade classroom, students may advance beyond their grade level in math. Students have the opportunity to begin Algebra I in seventh or eighth grade if they are ready to do so.

History and Geography

Young students begin learning history through the lives of great Americans, and geography by an introduction to maps and globes. Students progress through the years to a deeper study of history, covering California history and early American history in third and fourth grade, ancient history and North American history in fifth and sixth grade, and world history and United States history in seventh and eighth grade. Geographical studies complement the period of history studied, and as described above, the literature for each year complements the historical period being studied.


Science instruction begins in first and second grade with the study of the seasons, weather, and water cycles in first grade and of the natural world in the second. Third grade students study simple machines, rocks and soil, space and planets. Fourth grade students study biomes and habitats of North America and flora and fauna of the Arroyo Seco. Fifth grade students study earth, life and physical science. Sixth grade students study life science, focusing on cells, classification, plants and animals. In the seventh grade, students study earth science. Physical science is studied in eighth grade. Hands-on science activities are a priority in the science curriculum. Students attend frequent field trips to local scientific exhibits.

Art and Music

Throughout the first through eighth grade years, students participate in art and music activities with specialist teachers. In fifth through eighth grades, students also study the history of sculpture, the history of music, the history of painting, and the history of architecture.


Latin instruction begins in first and second grades with students memorizing prayers—Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be—in Latin. In the third grade, instruction in structure and vocabulary begins with an emphasis on the English language’s Latin roots. Formal Latin instruction takes place in fifth through eighth grades with an emphasis on Latin grammar.