core knowledge

Our Elementary School Educational Plan

Our elementary school uses the Core Knowledge Sequence to build a solid educational foundation for our children. The Sequence is a coherent, cumulative, and content-specific plan based on the idea of E.D. Hirsch, Jr., educational reformer and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. Hirsch’s educational approach, founded in 1986, is based on the idea that content matters. In his research, Hirsch found that students who were well-versed in broad subjects like history, geography, civics, the arts, and basic science were better prepared to read college level texts compared to students who lacked this basic background knowledge.

Core Knowledge Resources

Core Knowledge Sequence Chart Core Knowledge Sequence Chart (1127 KB)

Although current events and technology are constantly changing, Hirsch argues that there exists a common body of lasting knowledge and skills that form the educational basis for all students. For example, the Sequence specifies that all second-graders read classic literature such as The Fisherman and His Wife, Iktomi Stories, Peter Pan, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and the Mythology of Ancient Greece. In history and geography, the children study the world’s great rivers, ancient Rome, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, among other subjects.

The elementary school, in conjunction with the Core Knowledge Sequence, sets high expectations for all children that are achievable due to the cumulative, sequential way that knowledge and skills build.

Music, art, physical education, and technology classes are available for all students in grades K–5. All students participate in library time once per week.  Several after school activities are offered, including: Odyssey of the Mind, Spanish, dance, teacher-led enrichments, PTO-sponsored events, and chess, running, and homework clubs.

Homework and Reading

Homework is an essential part of education. It prepares students for high school and college and for entry into the working world upon graduation. It also helps to develop a strong work ethic and personal organizational skills. Homework is an opportunity to review what is taught in the classroom, and to acquire background material.

Reading is an important part of the TPCA culture. We encourage our young children to read, or be read to, at least three times per week, and preferably every day. We believe that becoming a competent reader is critical to being a good student and a first step to being able to explore the world. To support reading activities at home, teachers offer a wide-range of reading incentives, and all students participate in the annual Reading Challenge.

The following chart can be used as a guideline for homework and reading expectations.  

First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

Average Nightly Work Load (Monday–Thursday)

5–15 minutes per night, plus family reading time, starting in November

15–25 minutes, plus family reading time

25–35 minutes, plus reading time

35–45 minutes, plus reading time

45–60 minutes, plus reading time

60–75 minutes, plus reading time